Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Our Witness: Making the Sale

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on a stand and it gives light to the whole house. Mt 5:14-15

I was checking out one of my fellows after he had seen a few patients in clinic. “That last patient pulled the Jesus thing on me,” he said. “What do you mean?” “You know, she told me about Jesus and tried to save me.” “Well, obviously her faith was important to her.” “I know, but I just don’t need others to tell me what to believe. I need to settle on truth as I see it.” “At least you know she cares about you enough to share something important with you, just like you might tell someone about your wedding and invite them to attend” “It’s fine to share; I just don’t like feeling like I’m a sale is being made.” Our conversation ended but our relationship is ongoing. I did not share my own faith at that encounter, using it instead as a time for God’s Spirit to work, praying for God to fit my witness in at his proper time.

It is not easy to share our faith with our trainees or colleagues. We work within professional and expectational boundaries that need to be respected, even as we earnestly seek to express our witness for Christ. We can abruptly cross those boundaries at times and hurt our witness, just as we can from fear refuse to speak when God calls us to--- with the same result. My personal experience and my interaction with most doctors suggest that we more often hold back from fear than we are too boldly abrupt. The fear of confronting a colleague with information they don’t want to hear and the concern that such a confrontation will affect their respect for us is a real hindrance to our witness. So, how do we balance appropriate boundaries with courageous witness when it comes to our colleagues?

I think first that our hearts need to be right. Do we pray each day that God will use us to live and speak to our colleagues the Gospel? Even if we don’t feel like it, do we ask God to use us anyway, because we love Him?

Secondly, do we have specific colleagues that we ask God each day to bring to Him through our lives? Do we pray specifically for these each day, such that when we encounter them, we remember that morning prayer?

Then, do we have ready faith flags and faith stories? Can we point to God in brief phrases and are we ready with brief stories of God’s goodness in our lives, when conversation allows them in natural ways.

Finally, are we listening intently for God’s Spirit with each encounter? “Show me, Lord, an opening for Your truth during this encounter. Let me be obedient to Your whisper and speak as You prompt.”

God’s business, God’s transforming power, sometimes through us, more important than our fears.

Dear Father,
Give me a burden for my colleagues. Let me listen for Your whisper and always be ready to speak Your truth to them, gently or forcefully, in love, as You lead. Touch them and transform them with Your love and power so that we may all be together with You in love forever. Amen

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