In the church, "compassion" is used to defeat nerve. My first autumn as a bishop, a wise old pastor told me, "I think you are a gift to us. But I worry that you will grow to like us, to befriend us, and as you do, you will become less effective in helping us. Be careful! We Alabamians will charm you into complete ineffectiveness."
Empathy causes clergy to go limp.... In our therapeutic culture, when friendship and personal support are exercised without any theological control, the group becomes coercive. Being an empathetic and caring member of the group becomes more important than truth or results. Too often an appeal to "relationship" is code for: (1) the purpose of your ministry is to maintain harmony with me, (2) harmony with me is a higher purpose than the mission of Jesus, (3) do not violate the niceness boundary and threaten my comfort
Empathy is too low a goal for ministry of Word and sacrament. We therefore need to spend less time asking "How are we feeling?" and more time asking, "Why are we here?"
William H. Willimon, Bishop: The Art of Questioning Authority by an Authority in Question (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2012), pp. 82-83.