Welcome to the Hollymont blog and book club! Yes – book club. Let’s read and learn together about what our girls need to succeed and grow into who God created them to be. Feel free to read along and email your comments to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or just join me on the blog as I recap from our current book. Hopefully we can all learn something new from each other.
Our first book is called UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World written by Dr. Michelle Borba. Throughout the book she lays out 9 essential habits that provide what she calls the “Empathy Advantage”. Those habits are being able to recognize feelings, have a moral identity, understand the needs of others, have a moral imagination, keep their cool, practice kindness, think “us” not “them”, stick their necks out and want to make a difference. The book is divided into 3 sections – how to help children develop empathy, how to help children practice empathy and how to help children live empathetically.
It’s no secret that there is an epidemic of self-absorption in our society. In her Introduction, Borba lays out the premise for the need for empathy as a foundation to humanity. She says that self-absorption kills empathy. With the deluge of social media and advertisements that push the idea of promoting self, it’s no wonder we have lost our ability to be empathetic. The effect it is having on our kids is staggering. They are becoming more entitled, competitive, self-centered and individualistic according to Borba. Confidence and drive are good things when coupled with empathy and a mentality that sees beyond the mirror.
While Borba’s premise has a secular base, the whole of the Christian faith is built upon a God who shows the ultimate form of empathy by sending His son to earth to live among us and serve His people with love and compassion. This love was culminated on the cross where God sacrificed His son so that we could have eternal life with Him. Living out that same compassion and love should be what we are known for. Unfortunately, that is not always our first response. My hope is that as we look at Borba’s observations and suggestions and Scripture, we can begin to frame how to guide our children (and ourselves) to become more naturally empathetic and loving.
Camp is a great place for teaching and practicing empathy. We strive to build a community that seeks to listen, understand and respect one another. We encourage each other through our struggles and accomplishments. The bonds built over their weeks together last a lifetime. All of this is done with the truths of Scripture at the center and we can say with great confidence that it works. We have seen our girls learn to love and respect people from all parts of the world and all walks of life. It is a beautiful picture of God’s love and plan for His people an encouragement to me as I see the difficulties of the world around us.
I pray this book serves as a spring board to help both you and the Hollymont staff as we seek to develop empathy and compassion in ourselves and the children entrusted to us.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17