What the Minister Expects of the Doctor

The relation between the physical and the spiritual.

By EDNA F. PATTERSON, M.D., Paradise Valley Sanitarium, California

One of the statements a doctor must put on the birth certificate of every squirm­ing, newborn child which he ushers into the world is "Born alive." From that time on the doctor stands as guardian of that child's health, combating physical maladies in every epoch of his life.

The minister's spiritual children must also be "born alive" into the kingdom of grace. And his work is concerned with that of guiding his children in the conflict with sin. So the work of the spiritual counselor and the physical -healer supplements each other. "The body is the only medium through which the mind and the soul are developed for the upbuilding- of charac­ter."—Ministry of Healing, p. 130. How vitally important it then becomes for the physician to obtain a clear vision of his duty in carrying out this dual program.

"The physician who ministers in the homes of the people, watching at the bedside of the sick, relieving their distress, bringing them back from the borders of the grave, speaking hope to the dying, wins a place in their confidence and affection, such as is granted to few others. Not even to the minister of the gospel are committed possibilities so great, or an influence so far reaching."—Ibid., p. 132.

"The first labors of a physician should be to educate the sick and suffering in the very course they should pursue to prevent disease."—Medical Ministry, p. 221.

Since the doctor's work partakes of this spir­itual nature, he will be a vital part of the church membership. The pastor will rightly expect to see the face of his doctor friend in his Sabbath services. In fact, he may receive a double bene­fit by teaching a Sabbath school class—first, for his own sake ; and second, for what he can impart to others. Young people especially are inspired when they see the doctor leading out in religious meetings.

Let us hope the minister will see to it that the time-consuming, poorly organized Sabbath services that we sometimes see will not wear out the patience of the professional man who is accustomed to working by appointment and promptness in a well-organized office.

Our doctor is a rational scientific Christian. He carries no peculiar fanatical ideas about ex­tremes in diet. Neither does he use religion as a cloak to hide behind in covering up his ig­norance in the scientific care of his patients. He will not be so highly technical that he stands off among the "untouchables." This doctor is a wholesome, happy, radiant, Christian. He im­presses you with the assurance that here is one in whom you can place your confidence; with no doubts as to the outcome. All that surrounds this doctor will speak for him. His automobile, his home and surroundings—these are a con­stant witness to his faith. His office is a testi­mony of his fidelity.

The waiting room displays attractive denom­inational books and papers for both old and young. These are seeds which will later bear fruit. A minister of another faith was so im­pressed by the books in our office that he re­quested the address of the publishers, so he could send for his own.

Another avenue of service which brings rich rewards is the mailing out of our periodicals to the patient list. One outstanding patient was de­livered from the dope habit and alcoholism by reading Our Times, which we had sent to her.

The doctor will watch for every opportunity to drop a word concerning the truth we repre­sent. One patient said, "I am not a church mem­ber, but when I come here, I always feel as if I should become one." Another prominent woman said, "It isn't your pills or medicines which help us, but what you do to us." (I cer­tainly never preached to them.)

Since the medical work is such a tremendous power in. breaking down prejudice in the com­munity, the doctor will qualify himself as a pub­lic speaker, assisting the minister with his evan­gelistic campaigns by giving health lectures. The church members will be organized into home-nursing classes, and encouraged to lend a helping hand in the healing program.

The work of the pastor and the doctor will go forward hand in hand. No place for jealousy, envy, or suspicion will be found in God's plan. In his hours of discouragement the minister will find in the warmhearted physician a true psychologist who can comfort and relieve the burdens of life.

The pastor wants to see his doctor friend succeed, but he will try to steady him so he will not be carried away with the lusts of the flesh, and have money-making become his goal. A man may be a devout Christian while he is com­pelled to live simply and in comparative humil­ity, but on the pinnacle of success he becomes dizzy and loses his spiritual balance. For "he that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with in­crease." Eccl. 5:10. Surely prosperity is often the death knell of spirituality.

Recently we attended Sabbath services in one of our smaller churches in southern California. The humble church building and its pews looked about the same as they did twenty years ago. Among the worshipers were a doctor friend and his wife, who invited us over to see their new home. The estate was marvelous in­deed, and the home and furnishings were liter­ally "out of this world." I felt that the Sabbath had been desecrated by our even looking at them. "Said the angel, 'They can secure but one world.'"

The pastor and the church members will re­member the doctor in their prayers, binding him to the throne of grace. God will bring heal­ing out of the natural order of things. The church does not have to wait until illness or misfortune strikes to pray for its members.

Finally, if the doctor's work should close and he himself be called by the grim reaper, the minister will be the strong pilot who will guide him through the narrows. And then in that last rite, the funeral sermon, we will not have to search through the records to find some words of comfort for the grief-stricken family. His works will follow him. The busy doctor has earned his rest in Christ awaiting the Life-giver. And the pastor can truly say, "Behold me and the flock that Thou hast given me, Thy beautiful flock."


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By EDNA F. PATTERSON, M.D., Paradise Valley Sanitarium, California

May 1948

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