Some of our readers may have noticed that I've been away for the last few weeks. I'd made plans to use most of the time working on our upcoming book on mental health inclusion in the church, but became "sidetracked" by a consulting project in which I was asked to make recommendations for redesigning the systems for providing psychiatric care to kids in a nearby city.
While reflecting upon the attributes of an excellent system of care for kids with psychiatric issues and their families in the future, I've been spending quite a bit of time thinking about my future in medicine and the future of the practice group in which I serve.
Aside from this blog and Key Ministry's social media platforms, in a typical week I come in contact with more people through my work than anywhere else. This post from iDisciple articulates my thoughts about work and worship far more effectively than I ever could. If I claim to be a Christian, my work and the work of the other people in the practice for which I'm responsible should reflect the attributes of Christ.
I've wanted families coming to our office to experience care that's unmistakably different from what they've encountered in the past. What that means in practice is that I've placed very high value on setting aside the time to be thorough and complete in my evaluations of kids and teens, taking the time to understand not just the "what" but the "why" behind the problems that brought them to us in a way that leads logically to an effective treatment plan. I've also looked for opportunities (when medically appropriate) to go the extra mile for some of our patients in an extravagant way that reflects the extravagant grace Jesus has extended to all of us. Showing up in person to advocate for kids at school meetings has been one way in which we've gone the extra mile. House calls are another.
Our ministry, and the churches and ministries we serve also seek to reflect the attributes of Christ through the ways in which we reflect Christ's love to families impacted by disability. One year ago this weekend, a highly valued and exceptionally competent professional colleague of mine (who also happened to be agnostic) died very suddenly and tragically. He had been so impressed by the willingness of hundreds of volunteers at churches across our region to provide free respite care for families of kids with emotional, behavioral, developmental and physical disabilities that he volunteered his services as a trainer for our ministry. He joined the Board of another like-minded ministry in our region serving kids with autism spectrum disorders. I don't know whether Ethan ever "prayed the prayer" but he was clearly impacted by his experience of Jesus as reflected by his followers.
Our practice has found itself in an environment that with each passing year grows more hostile to our model of caring for kids and families. I won't bore our readers with the details, but the combination of much more expensive health insurance for many of the families we serve accompanied by much higher deductibles, substantial restrictions in use of flexible spending accounts, decreases in productivity from cumbersome documentation requirements and abusive "prior authorization" demands from pharmacy benefit managers, demographic changes (fewer kids in our region) and a steep drop in demand for counseling/therapy services have left us with an unsustainable business model.
The parallels between the struggles of our practice and the struggles that many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are wrestling with as they seek to be witnesses in an increasingly hostile culture that continues to shift beneath their feet.
Many of us put our lives are on display through our social media presence. And much as our practice is becoming worn down by the challenges to provision of excellent care in a hostile environment, many of our fellow Christians are struggling to discern what to do say or do when faced with a selection of potential leaders with attitudes ranging from ambivalence to open hostility about values that many of us hold dear...the culture of life, religious liberty, the design and purposes of the family and freedom of conscience.
In much the same way that our practice's challenges have forced me to re-examine what we do at work and why we do it, the shift in the culture is forcing many friends who publicly identify as Christian to reexamine their views about candidates for office...and their advocacy of causes and candidates. The common thread I've been wrestling with is this...
How shall I proceed in a way that honors Christ's reputation?
So...if we're wrestling with a business challenge or providing a service or advocating for a specific candidate or cause, the question on the table is this - will this action reflect well upon the reputation of the One I claim to serve in front of a hostile world?
Know a family impacted by disability in need of help finding a local church? Encourage them to register for Key for Families. We can help connect families with local churches prepared to offer faith, friendship and support, while providing them with encouragement though our Facebook communities. Refer a friend today!