Great article, John. Some people are more inclined naturally toward these traits, especially empathy, but they can all be acquired through practice. The thing that improved my compassion and empathy the most was to become a Stephen Minister at our church. This is a person (trained through a months-long course) to just be a listening friend for someone going through a crisis. We don’t offer solutions (which is hard at first). We just offer Christian friendship, a listening ear and our presence. It’s amazing what a humbling and compassion-growing experience this is.