Christ-followers working in healthcare fields “do not have to check Jesus at the door when we clock into work,” said physician and prolific author Dr. Walt Larimore. Instead, he urges workers to become “everyday missionaries wherever God plants you.”
Speaking Feb. 17 at a Gregory Center for Medical Missions forum, Larimore provided advice he’s developed over 41 years as a family physician. Dr. Dana Strachan, dean of the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy, told forum attendees Larimore has shared his wisdom in 41 books, 30 medical textbook chapters and numerous television shows. Among his award-winning books is “Going Public With Your Faith: Becoming A Spiritual Influence At Work.”
Larimore recalled guidance he received from his pastor’s wife when he was in college considering a medical career: “It’s not really a career in medicine; it’s a call to a ministry of healing.”
This ministry, said Larimore, has a spiritual component grounded in prayer. Praying for his patients became a daily discipline for him.
But before sharing spiritual matters with a patient, the healthcare professional must earn the right to be heard, he said. And the first requirement is “to be excellent in your work: do everything you do as unto the Lord.”
Often Larimore found that patients would “open the door” to talk about spiritual things, and they would be excited to learn their physician prays. From his “pre-op” checklist, he had nurses ask about allergies, family histories, etc., and end with the question “Would you like the doctor to pray with you?”
“Once I started doing that,” he said, “I only had one patient say no.”
Larimore urged practitioners to go through their day being sensitive to the patient and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. When you find a patient open to a spiritual conversation, he said, then it’s appropriate to explore spiritual topics. He alluded to 1 Peter 3:15-16, which calls for Christians to be ready to tell their own faith stories when people ask.
“For those of you who are in the workplace, are people asking about your faith?” he asked. If not, “maybe your life isn’t attractive, and your ‘salt’ not flavorful. And when they do ask, it’s a holy moment.” That’s the time to share, with gentleness and respect, not in a pushy, arm-twisting manner, he said.
The Scripture doesn’t call upon Christ-followers to convict people, Larimore said. “But our job is to meet people and love them, joining God in His work and leaving the results to Him.”
Photo: Dr. Walt Larimore gave advice for how to share your faith when working in healthcare during the Gregory Center for Medical Missions forum Feb. 17 in the DeSantis Family Chapel.