Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Our Colleagues: Our Witness

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. I Pet 3:15

I found out years after my residency that two of my fellow residents had come to Christ with my witness having influenced their decisions. I was amazed because I had not fit in with them during the residency; I was too “straight-laced” for them. They later commented that they had envied my lifestyle and commitment. If I had known that they were watching, I probably would have blown it, but my innocent living for Christ paid later benefits in saved lives. How can I live my life intentionally so that my colleagues see Christ in me? In spite of my imperfections, how can I demonstrate character that draws my fellow doctors and students toward a closer relationship to God? These are questions we all need to keep in mind.
–Ruth Bolton, M.D

Representing Christ is no easy thing; secular people often watch to see if faithful Christians are “perfect.” They accuse us if we are Christ-like and they accuse us if we are not. We know that perfection is beyond us, and yet we are indeed called to be holy in all we do. God expects us to “walk the talk” in order to make an impact on our world. We stand in full view of our colleagues, caught somewhere between their expectations as our fellow workers, our desire to please God and our fallibilities as human beings. How do we ever get it right? Somehow God does it through us.

Worthy Goals
If you truly want to be an impact player in relation to your colleagues at the office or hospital, it will help to keep these goals in mind: practice excellence, demonstrate leadership, stand beside hurting colleagues, golf more, encourage, communicate accurately and honorably and be ready with truth.

  • Practice excellence
    Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."
  • Demonstrate leadership
    Reflecting Christ in sacrificial service, with competence, speaks boatloads to our colleagues who are watching to see the Christ we follow. Maybe you should consider such leadership roles in your institution. People notice. Christ can be glorified.
  • Stand beside your hurting colleagues
    Many times the hospital grapevine is a very vicious rumor mill. Have you ever considered volunteering to be on a committee that helps hurting doctors? Have your colleagues ever asked you to be an expert witness for them in their malpractice suits? Does that new doctor in town or in your practice have a place to go for Thanksgiving? Our colleagues remember who stands with them when they are in pain. Be there with Christ and they will see him as he really is.
  • Golf more
    It took me over fifteen years to learn that my passion (addiction, possibly) to golf was honored by God. I have been able to interact with many colleagues through the annual hospital golf tournament. I don’t think I would know most of the doctors at our hospital if I didn’t golf. It has allowed me to interact with people much more comfortably. I’ve always said that our character is not made on the golf course, it is revealed! It’s an incredible way to witness–all you have to do is count all your shots and not cheat!
    –Ruth Bolton, M.D.
  • Encourage
    Most doctors need encouragement. We work long hours; the pressures of paperwork, malpractice and relationships are hard. Some of the best friends we have in medicine are the ones who have encouraged us when we have had one too many nights of no sleep and a too busy schedule.
  • Communicate accurately and honorably
    We are mandated to hold fellow Christian colleagues accountable; we must do so biblically and honorably. Even more so, we must never denigrate the character of our colleagues who are not Christian by inaccurate communication or gossip.
  • Be ready with truth
    God tells us to be prepared to give an account of the truth. Our medical schools often teach that a doctor must be “values neutral” because of the position of power we have over the naked patient in front of us. It is not ethical to “force” our values on them. Indeed, we are not called by God to force our views on anyone; we are called to witness, to tell the truth as we see it. I have learned to confront values neutral thinking with the statement:
    Remember that people without God’s truth are blind and you may be the ray of light they need. Your colleagues will only hear rational arguments from a secular worldview if they do not hear good reason from Christians as well.

    Dear God,
    Help me with humility to be Your presence among my colleagues. Help me introduce them to You through acts of love and words of truth. Amen

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