Dr. Mike Collins
Bowling Green, Kentucky
Four letters express to a degree my thoughts on how any lay person including a doctor can serve his community as he or she serves the Lord. They are TELL which stand for Testimony, Empathy, Labour, and Love.
The most important tool of service any Christian physician has is their testimony of a personal experience with Jesus. At every opportunity we must seek to tell what God has done for us through Christ. Our testimony may be given with meekness and humility and we must rely on his Spirit to give us the right words at the right time as we remember how Jesus always had the time and appropriate approach to those he came upon who were in need. Our lives should back up our testimony as will be discussed with the other three aspects of TELL. But nothing we do can replace the direct expression of our new birth experience. If we truly desire to share our experience God will provide the right place and the right time. This isn't necessarily the office setting for those who come to the office with physical illness. They are in a position of physical need and this must be tended to first and with compassion that is in itself a witness. God is the source of that care and if we allow him to minister through us then there shall be subsequent opportunities to tell what God has done for us spiritually as we credit him with all our abilities Christian doctors should strive for excellence in everything and give God the credit for success in the natural and spiritual endeavors. As patients see us do our best for them physically it will open future doors to personal witness and testimony.
Empathy is that quality that allows us to have a deeper understanding of our patient's experience that is beyond feeling and is a springboard for compassion. We can have feeling or sympathy for others without having the knowledge of how the illness is impacting them inwardly. Empathy is deeper than sympathy. If we have experienced illness ourselves we in better position to share empathy with them. Any saved physician can have empathy with a patient who is lost as we all were lost and condemned at one time and we felt that condition as conviction prior to being saved.
Labour is more than intense work for a season. It is continuity in an endeavor to provide ongoing and above the average care. Christian physicians should be intense and hardworking "not slothful"(Romans 12:11) We should incorporate the 'two mile" philosophy in what we do not to please men but to show Christ working through us. We should labour yoked with Christ realizing we cannot meet the expectations of others, our families or ourselves without his daily supply of grace and strength. It we rely on his strength we can do all things that make us successful providers and witnesses.
Love comes from God and the sacrificial love that Christ had is something he will share with us if we ask and are willing to let him provide it through us even at a cost (and there will always be a cost to true love as He showed us at the cross). Yes we should love every patient and yes we should love those who are dissatisfied or demanding as well as even our enemies. We will never please everyone but through Jesus we can love everyone. Through our earnest efforts to meet physical needs we can show them we love them and they will sense we care for their spiritual needs.
It is not easy to express these thoughts although it is certainly easier to talk about something than to do it. But if we really desire to be a true servant to Christ and man we can do it for "his yoke is easy" (Romans 12:11.) This word easy does not imply the absence of difficulty or struggle but does mean that we are yoked with Him the yoke is well fitting and bearable throughout all the labour of love we perform with him.
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