The Character of a leader: Compassion

“Love is not a feeling – it’s an act of the will.” Or is it?

Allow this short introductory video to give you a wider scope to the importance of compassion in the leader’s character before we reflect on today’s Scripture reading (


Matthew 9:35-10:1

35  And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.  36  When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37  Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”  10:1  And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

Observation and reflection questions

  1. Reflect on the text by answering the following questions briefly:
    • What is the context of this text? I.e. what was Jesus busy with at the offset of this text? (verse 35)
    • What did Jesus notice during his itinerant ministry? Say this in everyday language. (verse 36)
    • What did this observation caused Jesus to feel? (verse 36)
    • How did Jesus respond to his disciples? (verse 37-38)
    • How did Jesus respond to the need? (10:1)
  2. What then was Jesus’ motive for the instruction and commissioning of his disciples?
  3. As you reflect on the text try to visualize the events. How and why was Jesus’ heart moved with compassion?  What allowed him to notice the need in the towns and synagogues?
    • Based on this observation, what is necessary for one’s heart to fill with compassion for people?

Personal reflection and Application

Jesus leadership was always motivated by compassion – love that wells up in our hearts and stirs up to fulfill a need.  To read more about compassion as the motive of Jesus’ ministry, read this article What is Love?. (

  1. Consider the condition of your heart. Have your heart grown harder or softer for people in the last six months?
    • How do you measure it?
    • Why did it grow harder or softer?
  2. Recall one instance in your life where you were moved with compassion to do something for someone or a community. When and where was this? Who did you feel for?  What was the need and how did you respond?
    • WHY did you feel for him/ her/ them?
  3. Consider the people you lead (such as your small group or family or people at work). Reflect on one or two of them: their past, their current situation and struggles, their ambitions.
    • In which way can you identify with his/her past?
    • In which way can you identify with his/her current situation and struggles?
    • In which way can you identify with his/her ambitions?
    • Can you understand what they feel? Can you how you are quite alike?
    • Now pray for him/ her from your heart and afterward send a message of encouragement.


Thank God for the compassion he has on you and kindness he extends towards you. Pray that the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all” (1 Thessalonians 3:11).