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We find spiritual growth and guidance in our daily life in many shapes and forms. Experiences with our community, church, friends and family help nurture our faith and encourage us to deepen our relationship with God.
Whether we use our hands to help heal, serve meals, build homes or comfort a child, we give back to our community through one of the most fundamental principles of Christianity — service. But, like many aspects of life, serving others often comes with its fair share of challenges.
The Differences Between Self-Serving and Serving
According to Rachel Naomi Remen, a doctor who specializes in retreats for cancer patients, we all tend to approach life in three distinct ways: Helping, fixing and serving.
We help others when we see them as weak.
We fix others when we see them as broken.
We serve others when we see them as whole.
While the first two actions still address the needs of others, we often do them to make ourselves feel better. When we assist people because we see them as weak or broken, we unintentionally place ourselves above them. Instead of serving their needs, we believe we’re doing them a favor by sacrificing our time and energy.
Even though we may not even realize it, these actions stem from egotism or selfishness, rather than faithfulness. In this way, we serve our own interests rather than fulfilling God’s work.
In order to truly serve God over ourselves, we must remember this important passage from Corinthians:
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (6:19-20).
When we serve the people around us, we must remember that our hands are not our own — they do not act on our behalf. Our hands act as instruments that God uses to heal others.
The Importance of Compassionate Care
This responsibility to practice the word of God transcends just our own actions. Think of the golden rule:
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12).
While this concept may seem straightforward enough, we can find contradictions of it in our daily interactions. For instance, remember the last time you visited your doctor? Did you feel like your physician helped, fixed or served you? Did you feel as if your care team addressed the needs of your body, mind and spirit?
Surprisingly, 65% of patients want to discuss their spiritual concerns with their doctor, but only 10% actually receive it. Our health care may excel when it comes to diagnosing conditions, treating pain and curing diseases, but these actions primarily only help us or fix us. Instead of walking away from these medical situations feeling comforted and whole, we often feel scared and alone.
When compassion falls to wayside, how can we truly heal? Faith can’t simply be replaced with test results and medicines. Whole patient care is dependent on our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
The Elements of Compassionate Care
People experience pain on many levels during times of distress. Often the fear, isolation and panic of a serious illness affect us more than actual physical suffering. During these moments of confusion and doubt, you may find yourself questioning God’s intentions. Why did this happen to me? Will my family be all right? Why have you abandoned me when I need you most?
Critical health issues can put your devotion to the test, and without proper guidance from those who serve you, you may struggle to stay connected to your faith. In order to bridge the gap between medicine and religion, you need compassionate care from your medical providers. So what, exactly, should you look for in your caregivers?
Do They Project a Compassionate Presence?
Serving others means more than running tests and prescribing treatments. Compassionate caregivers actively listen to their patients’ fears, hopes and dreams. In order to truly serve your needs, doctors must first understand how your emotions and motivations shape your whole personality.
Do They Address Your Spiritual History?
The fundamental values of your family and community affect your health in many ways. Your spiritual beliefs often impact how you react to problems and how you cope with stress.
On a greater scale, they can reveal who you rely on for support and how you address the bigger questions of life.
Do They Incorporate Spiritual Elements Into Your Care?
Once your caregivers understand where you come from and what drives you, they can incorporate spiritual healing into your treatments. Many medical facilities offer professional help from chaplains and other religious leaders. These specialists can provide additional resources, support and advice.
Connecting Healthcare and Spiritual Wellness
At AdventHealth, we strive to serve you better by bridging the gap between health care and spiritual wellness. By embracing the elements of compassionate care, we aim to provide you with treatment that will support your mind, body and spirit.
As we reach out to others in our community, let’s hold this excerpt from Galatians close to our hearts:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” (5:13).