Compassion: It Comes First

This past week I participated in a series of complicated / important / charged conversations…

  1. conversations with my classis concerning a response to human sexuality / same-sex marriage / ordination of LGBTQ persons.
  2. a conversation with my middle school youth group about spiritual gifts (which we’ve been studying together for the past few months).
  3. a conversation with my parents about God’s sovereignty and human free will.
  4. a handful of conversations about President Trump’s inauguration.
  5. a conversation with myself about self-care.

I felt all sorts of ways during those conversations, and each one required a self-assigned time out afterwards. Over the course of the week, I sensed God putting something important on my heart during that down time:

Being compassionate is more important than being right.

In all of those conversations, I came head-to-head with a whole host of beliefs, convictions, nuggets of wisdom, arguments, and assumptions that I either shared or completely disagreed with. But God kept pushing me toward compassion (which is frustrating, because I *love* being right).

When I say “being compassionate,” I don’t mean “I-will-be-compassionate-in-the-way-that-I-want-to-be-and-you-just-have-to-receive-it-regardless-of-what-would-actually-make-you-feel-cared-about.”

When I say “being compassionate,” I mean…

  • “I will listen to you. I will explain what I am hearing you say. If I get it wrong, I will try again. I will take the time to understand you.”
  • “Your story is as valid as mine. My story is not normative.”
  • “I will actively choose to recognize your humanity in whatever way matters most to you.”
  • “I will not make this conversation about what makes me comfortable.”

At this time in my life, I am called to know the stories of the people and denomation I serve, and of the Bible I love. I am called to hours and months and years of listening, and lots of withholding judgment. Someday God might call me to some compassionate table-flipping (like Jesus in Matthew 21), but I’ve got some learning to do.

I love being right, but God calls us to compassion.


This is an adorable picture of my cousin Carly (left) and myself (right) taken by our Aunt Caroline. Carly is someone that I really enjoy listening to, and someone that I experience compassion with (even when our convictions do not always align). I really appreciate her!!


Just some initial thoughts, but I still have lots of questions…

How do we do compassion when we disagree?

When is it more appropriate to listen?

Does God ever call us to loosen our grip on some of our convictions?

How do we respond when someone (friend, spouse, pastor, etc.) tells us we’re coming on too strongly?

How do we respond when someone (friend, spouse, pastor, etc.) says we need to grow in our compassion?

By all means, let me know if you have this compassion thing worked out.



Author: aedewaard12

Wife. Pastor. M.Div. Reformed. Feminist. Runner. Enneagram Activist. Mediocre Writer. Lover of the Bible. People call me Aud (it suits me).

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