“Whatever you have learned or received or head from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9, NIV 2011).
I had a Christian student shadow me in my clinic this past week. I prayed that morning that God would let me manage my patients the way I normally do and not attempt the “super-Christian” look to impress my student. I succeeded.
Twice that morning we had to “do the talk,” as Daniel later described it, first with one of my hepatocellular cancer patients who had failed all therapy.
I explained to the patient that we had exhausted all possible treatment modalities and that he would not live for many more months. I assured him that we would be there for him and provide for him the best possible quality of life. I asked him about his support system and specifically about his religious faith. He said that he was a Christian and had a church, though he said it as if it was of little importance. I did not think it was best to explore the issue further at this visit. His wife was present. We provided his pain medicine and established a follow-up appointment.
After they left the examining room, I asked Daniel how he thought the visit went. He was somewhat pensive but responded that he thought it went fine. I pushed him a bit and asked, “Really, how might I have done a better job with this patient?”
After a short pause, Daniel offered, “You could have prayed with him.”
It took a moment for me to digest the thought and I then replied, “You’re right.”
Mentoring is a two-way street, especially if we look at it as discipling. Mature doctors imagine that we have much to offer young students and doctors. And we do. God has taught us older doctors a great deal within the living of our lives in Christ. It is our responsibility to share that with younger men and women so that God might more readily work into their lives what He has worked into ours.
But there is also much that we have lost or forgotten. Concerns of the world have covered up the energy and the freshness of God’s glory in our lives. When older Christian doctors share their life with younger Christian students and doctors, the presence of youthful faith is like sandpaper that removes the rust of living so that the shine might return. In my own experience, the discipleship/mentoring endeavor is clearly a two-way street.
So, what younger person is God asking you to disciple? If we don’t recognize him/her, it is likely that we are not seeking.
And, if you are younger, which man or woman does God wish you to connect with, in order to grow in discipleship like Jesus wants? If we don’t see him/her, it is likely that we are not seeking.
If God so wishes, we have a step to take:
“I would love for you to come hang out with me and see how a Christian doctor tries to do it.”
“Do you think I might come and spend some time with you at work? I would love to see how a Christian doctor does it.”
What a responsibility you have placed in my hands to connect with another so that both of us might be better disciples for you.