As a healthcare professional, you (typically) have 15 minutes or less to make a difference.
So, what do you do?
Needless to say, the patient in front of you (and God – see Colossians 3:23-24) expects you to do your best for them clinically.
But assuming you do that, as Christians we know God also wants us to “treat the whole person” to the best of our ability. How do you that when there are a million things to choose from and you only have a few moments?
Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as we follow the Great Physician:
- We need to accept the limitations that come with living in a fallen world, being broken ourselves, and simply not being all-knowing like God. This means that, sometimes, we may not know what to do for a given patient, and that’s OK.
- We can always show God’s love, though. Beyond medical care, many times patients simply want to know we care, even if we can’t “fix” things.
- We need to prioritize! (This relates to the first point). With the help of God’s Spirit, we need to discern what matters most and try to speak to that. “Make the best use of the time… understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15)
- Before we can speak more specifically to someone’s issues, we need to restore hope. If someone doesn’t (practically) believe change is possible, why would they do what we’re asking them to? As Christians, we need to become experts at giving specific hope for today, not just for heaven.
- We should try to balance speaking to behavior with speaking to “the heart” (biblically, not only the emotions, but thoughts and will, too). Jesus says (Luke 6:43-45) that our behavior is driven by what’s inside of us – our most fundamental commitments). So, if we want to help someone stop overeating, for example, we need to figure out why they’re overeating for real, long-term change to take place.
- We can develop a network of friends, professionals and other resources that can continue caring for our patients outside of our time with them. That may include pastors, counselors, other believing healthcare providers, churches, and community organizations. The key is to have the connections in place ahead of time so that you can direct patients there on an as-needed basis.
Again, all of this is incredibly difficult and way easier said than done. At the same time, God is giving us many opportunities to help others change every day. Most of them come in bite-size chunks of 15 minutes or less, so we need to be ready.
As you look at the suggestions above, which one could you work on in the coming week? Better yet, invite another friend in medicine to work on it (or another area) with you. Remember that, as you do, Jesus goes with you (Matthew 28:20).