The Greek word ellos means to feel sympathy with or for others. People with this gift are comforters who enter into the grief or happiness of others, having the ability to show empathy. To show empathy goes beyond sympathy. Sympathy feels for others, empathy feels with others. Empathizers emotionally go through what the victim goes through. They minister to the sick, the poor, the mentally challenged, the prisoners, the blind, the aged, the homeless, etc. They are willing to deal with people, and minister to these people who have needs that most other people feel very uncomfortable working with.
Mercy-Showers seem to always say the right thing at the right time. They are the ones people call first when they hurt because something bad happens, or when they feel great because of some good thing happening to them. When there is a death, Mercy-Showers are the first to be at the house holding someone’s hand or fixing a meal. When there is a promotion on the job or a large amount of money comes in, Mercy-Showers hug and jump up and down with the person.
Mercy-Showers are generally not found teaching Sunday school or leading a group since their personality is one of soft-spoken love. They are not usually leaders since they would hurt too much if they had to scold someone or push to get the job done. People love Mercy-Showers because of all the love they receive from them.
If you are a Mercy-Shower, you have the Spirit-given capacity and desire to serve God by identifying with and comforting those who are in distress. You are the person who understands and comforts fellow Christians.
Some people think of Mercy-Showers as being weak or compromisers, but they usually have some strong beliefs and principles. It’s just that they do not like to hurt anyone’s feelings, so they do not express them very often. Some people also have a tendency to “use” Mercy-Showers since they are so easygoing. When church members visit Aunt Matilda at the nursing home or hospital, they usually spot the Mercy-Showers since that’s where they spend much of their time. Mercy- Showers are full of prayer requests at any prayer meeting since they are close to those who are hurting.
When do Mercy-Showers best use their gift? In times of sorrow and in times of great joy. People with this gift often use it in conjunction with another gift in an area of service, such as deacon, youth worker or hospital visitation minister. That way they get the contacts they really want, people who need their sympathy and a shoulder to cry on.
Mercy-Showers should probably take a counseling course. Since they are sympathetic, they tend not to bring the necessary changes into a person’s life to correct the problems that require the counseling. The other alternative is to develop a list of people to whom they can refer people who need counseling or help. That way, they can offer sympathy and understanding and allow someone else to bring about the necessary changes.
For example, if they were to encounter a person who has a problem because of the presence of known sin, it would be good for Mercy-Showers to find Prophets who can confront the sin or Exhorters who can give steps to solving the problem. The Team concept of counseling is to use gifted people where their gift will do the most good.
Health workers, counselors and other caregivers tend to be Mercy-Showers by nature. They have a sincere desire to help people and the ability to sympathize and empathize with people, often putting themselves “in the other person’s shoes.” Sometimes they are dragged down by taking other people’s problems home with them.
Mercy-Showers must build some barriers on their feelings and establish strong biblical principles to prevent Satan from using the gift as a stumbling block before the Holy Spirit can use it as a stepping stone.
Dr. Larry Gilbert is founder and chairman of Ephesians Four Ministries, and founder of ChurchGrowth.org. For more on spiritual gifts, see Dr. Gilbert’s books from which this article was excerpted: Team Ministry: Gifted to Serve (for pastors and group leaders) and Your Gifts: Discover God’s Unique Design for You (for individuals and groups).
Articles in this series include…
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Shepherding?
- Do You Have the Spiritual Gift of Administration?
- 10 Characteristics of The Mercy-Shower
- 13 Burdens, Desires and Strengths of The Mercy-Shower
- 10 Special Needs and Weaknesses of The Mercy-Shower
- 5 Ways in which The Mercy-Shower is Misunderstood
- 4 Ways Satan Attacks the Gift of The Mercy-Shower
- 11 Places where The Mercy-Shower Gift can be Used
- The Witnessing Style of The Mercy-Shower
Lead others to discover their spiritual gifts.
For pastors and group leaders.