A Christian who happens to be a doctor

I’M A DOCTOR, and I have often been told that the practice of medicine is a calling, much like being called into Christian ministry.

The truth of the matter is that as Christians, ALL of us have been called by God – whether bankers, teachers, hawkers, doctors or pastors. We have, first and foremost, been called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Beyond that, our calling (or vocation, as Martin Luther calls it) is that station in life which God has assigned to us, in which we are to live out our Christian lives. As Paul puts it in 1 Cor 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”

It is not just the work I do that God has called me to. My role as a husband and father and son-in-law, as an employer and a member of my church, and even as a citizen of Singapore – all of this is part of my calling as a Christian. All of life belongs to God. Bought with a price, we are not our own, but we serve our great King wherever He has placed us.

Understanding this clearly has helped me better fulfil my calling in all areas of life. The most important role that underpins all this is my position as a child of God, who loves Him and serves Him. Instead of seeing myself as a doctor who happens to be a Christian, I now see myself as a Christian who happens to be a doctor.

What’s the difference?

For one thing, my occupation no longer defines me as a person, as it sadly does for many people. It is also no longer merely a way for me to earn an income – rather it becomes a way for me to glorify God and to serve my neighbour – which, of course, is nothing other than to fulfil the two greatest commandments!

You see the difference this makes?

It certainly makes me a better doctor, because I find myself guided by a strong conscience, with the over-riding goal of seeking the glory of God in all the decisions I make at work, whether clinical, financial or otherwise. I keep my patient’s interest foremost in my mind, not because of a professional ethical code or even a desire to build a reputation as a good doctor, but simply because I know that doing this pleases the Lord and honours Him.

It makes me far more ready to waive fees for needy patients, because I know this will please and glorify the Lord.

It makes it easier to brush off difficult or ungrateful patients, and to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in dealing with them, because of Paul’s advice in Col 3:23 – “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Knowing that my work is sanctified allows me to humble myself, so that Christ may be glorified in what I do, and how I respond to situations.

Most importantly, understanding that I am a Christian who happens to be a doctor makes me far more eager to fulfil the Great Commission by sharing the Gospel with those I meet. I recognise that it is God Himself who has put me in a situation where I meet so many different people every day, in a setting conducive to intimate conversation.

While it is important to be witnesses for the Lord by our life and conduct in the community (“lifestyle evangelism”), I have lately come to realise that there is no substitute for sharing and proclaiming the Gospel in words. Consequently I have found myself, more often than before, discussing the topics of sin and death, facing judgement before God, and the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ at every opportunity which the Lord provides. I encourage you to do the same in your workplace. After all, “how then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” – Rom 10:14.

I believe that our vocation (whatever station in life God has called each of us to) is God’s personal gift to each of us. It is to be received with thanksgiving, and lived out wholeheartedly. Let us serve Him all our lives with joyfulness and gladness of heart (Deut 28:47).