A busy intersection with people walking

It Starts with Empathy

“You are surrounded by people. You pass them on the street, visit them in their homes, and travel among them. They are all children of God.” (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service, 2018).

In Elder Jorge T. Becerra’s April 2021 general conference talk, “Poor Little Ones,” he shares the story recounted in Acts 3:1–7 of Peter and John going to the temple. On their way in, they came upon a man who was unable to walk. “Peter, fastening his eyes on him with John, said, Look on us.” Peter then took the man “by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” Elder Becerra reflects on the use of the word fastening, which he defines in this context as “[directing] one’s eyes or thoughts to or…[looking] intently at” (dictionary.com). When Peter and John fastened their eyes on this man, they looked past his disability, focusing instead on his potential to be healed. Elder Becerra observes that Peter’s “love for this man and a desire to help him caused an increase of capacity and ability in the man who was weak.” Peter looked on the man with empathy and saw past his limitations, which helped him to see the man as God saw him, and through God’s power Peter healed him.

Four people standing with their arms around each other

Photo by Helana Lopes

I believe that the way Peter looked at the lame man is the key to truly seeing others and wanting to help them. As we go about our day, how many people do we pass by? As we start to pay more attention to the people around us, we can develop feelings of empathy and love, which will cause us to want to minister to them. Having empathy for our brothers and sisters is a good way to start seeing past our differences, stop focusing on ourselves, and truly embrace the second great commandment: to love our neighbors as ourselves. With love in our hearts, we will truly understand the purpose of ministering. 

Read the rest of Jorge T. Becerra’s general conference talk, “Poor Little Ones.”

Source: General Conference

—Morgan Heath, Latter-day Saint Insights

Find more insights


Learn more about ministering on the Church’s “This is Ministering” page to find ideas on how to minister to others. 

Read Stacey A. Shaw’s BYU devotional about “Your Path of Discipleship” and how our differences give us more opportunities to help others. 

Take a look at the tender story about President Russell M. Nelson in the Liahona titled “Our Good Neighbor.”

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