The Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy

Issues Kids Deal With / Leadership //

In ministering to children from disrupted homes, we stress the need to empathize with what the kids are going through – not sympathize! This great video is one of the most succinct explanations of the difference between empathy and sympathy that I have found.



The video makes some great points, and I encourage you to watch the whole thing (it’s only 2:53 long after all).


One of the interesting things in the video was a study of professions where empathy is relevant and identifying four components of empathy:

  1. Perspective taking (taking someone else’s
  2. Staying out of judgment
  3. Recognizing emotion in other people
  4. Communicating that

There are some great takeaway quotes from the video too:

Empathy is being with people.

Empathy is a choice and it’s a vulnerable choice.

Rarely, if ever, does an empathic response start with ‘At least…”

I think my favorite observation though comes right at the end of the video:

Because the truth is, rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.

No matter what tools you are using or how well thought out your ministry is, it is relationship that is the key to everything.





About the Author

Wayne Stocks is a happily married father of four. That didn’t stop God from calling him into ministry to children of divorce and in single-parent situations. Wayne’s mission is to minister directly to children of divorce, educate others on its effects on children, equip them to work with those kids, and call the church to serve, support and minister to them and their families. You can find out more about Wayne’s ministry at and more about him personally at