A Renewed SpiritualityNurturing Hope: Christian Pastoral Care in the Twenty-First CenturyThe Power of ListeningJoy Together: Spiritual Practices for Your CongregationSabbath Keeping FastingPrayers of the Old TestamentPrayers of the New TestamentSabbathFriendingA Garden of Living Water: Stories of Self-Discovery and Spiritual GrowthDeath in Dunedin: A NovelDead Sea: A NovelDeadly Murmurs: A NovelPersonality Type in CongregationsBeating Burnout in CongregationsReaching Out in a Networked WorldEmbracing MidlifeAdvent DevotionalDraw Near: Lenten Devotional by Lynne Baab, illustrated by Dave Baab

Creativity, imagination and empathy

Lynne Baab • Friday July 31 2020

Creativity, imagination and empathy

I have long believed that imagination is required for empathy. In order to enter into another person’s feelings and thoughts about their life, I have to be able to imagine someone else’s reality. Here’s the definition of empathy, from a communications textbook, that I use when I’m teaching listening skills:

“Empathy is the cognitive process of identifying with or vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. . . .When we empathize, we are attempting to understand and/or experience what another person understands and/or experiences.” [1]

Notice the verbs in that definition: identifying with, vicariously experiencing, understand, experience. Imagination plays a key...

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Spiritual diary of self-isolation: responding to terror by listening to Jesus voice

Lynne Baab • Sunday March 29 2020

Spiritual diary of self-isolation: responding to terror by listening to Jesus voice

For the past three weeks, I’ve been writing devotionals for my church every Friday, using the daily lectionary. Here’s the one that was sent out yesterday.

To the church in exile,

God’s peace to you. Today I’m going to start by describing the opposite of peace – terror.

The word “terrified” means to feel extreme fear. For me, anxiety is a kind of background murmur – not pleasant at all – and I have felt it far too often in the past month. Extreme fear is worse. It shouts loudly and impacts my whole body. I feel terror in my stomach, my chest and...

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Grief AND thankfulness: How to listen

Lynne Baab • Thursday January 30 2020

Grief AND thankfulness: How to listen

Imagine that your friend is talking about something important. You hear hints of grief and thankfulness, and you want to listen well and draw out those two ideas. Here are some suggestions for helping your conversation partners explore grief AND thankfulness, going from the basic to the more complex.

1. Pay attention to – and avoid – typical roadblocks to listening. My personal favorite is giving advice, which turns conversations away from emotions and thoughts and focuses on practical solutions (and away from my conversation partner’s thoughts to mine!). Another common way of stopping listening is to take the conversation back to...

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Providing Christian Care in Our Time: Skills for Pastoral Care

Lynne Baab • Friday August 17 2018

Providing Christian Care in Our Time: Skills for Pastoral Care

Stress is ramping up. I use the term “new/old” to describe the stress people today deal with. “Old” sources of stress include all sorts of stressors that have always been around, such as illness, grief, unemployment, and family discord. New sources of stress include political polarization, the tyranny of smart phones, and the rising cost of housing and education. Understanding the new/old sources of stress that people face today is a key skill for pastoral care.

In my previous post, I wrote about trends in pastoral care, and in the post before that, I introduced the idea that our understanding of Christian pastoral...

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Featured books

Featured articles

New: Listening for God: The Joy of Spiritual Practices

Lynne Baab • Sunday August 9 2020

(Originally published inHorizons: The Magazine of Presbyterian Women. May/June 2019, 11-14.

New: Christians and Food Waste: Slowing Down and Savoring God’s Gifts

Lynne Baab • Sunday August 9 2020

(Originally published in Presbyterians Today, July/August 2019, 8.)

New: Developing a Missional Approach: Being Sent into the World as Jesus was Sent

Lynne Baab • Sunday August 9 2020

Originally published in Tui Motu InterIslands, Independent Catholic Magazine, New Zealand, September 2017, 26, 27.