By: Dr. Page Wages
As veterinary professionals, we wear so many hats and juggle many roles. In addition to our roles in the veterinary industry we are mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, sisters and brothers. We serve in our church and communities, many of us own farms or properties we must manage, and we have commitments to our families. We may be single parents, caring for our own elderly parents, or caring for sick family members. But beyond those hats, we also wear that hat of being a Christian. So the question lies, while juggling all of our roles, how can we live out the call of the Great Commission? In Matthew 28:19 Jesus says “Go and make disciples of all the nations,” but how do we accomplish that while still managing everything else on our plate?
First and foremost, the most important recognition is that yes, we are veterinary professionals…but you must ask yourself the following question: Are you a veterinary professional who is also a Christian? Or are you a Christian who happens to be a veterinary professional?
If it is the latter and you feel called to serve but not called to go, then that is your calling! It is not wrong to stay instead of going into the jungles of the Amazon, or onto the freezing tundra of Alaska, or to the depths of Mongolia to share the Gospel! God has written on each of our hearts what our calling is. What is your God-given calling and where is your mission field?
For me, it is everyday. God uses our ordinary lives to do extraordinary things! Think about the stories from the Bible. Who did Jesus hang out with? The high government officials, or the religious leaders? No. He chose to be with fishermen and tax payers, with the cripples, and servants. Just ordinary people. When He rose from the dead and was on earth for 40 days…did He go to Herod and Pilate and show them they were wrong? No, he served breakfast to his disciples and visited regular people. God uses ordinary people, like you and me, to do extraordinary things!
So, how can I serve without going?
There are so many ways that you can serve in your local communities, churches and with your practice. Let me share with you some ideas:
You could invite friends, clients and/or coworkers to church, at least at the holidays, and then continue to ask each week. Be persistent. I had one staff member who I knew was struggling some, and I would always ask if she wanted to join me for church on Sunday. After about a year of asking, she came, and then she continued to come…because she found something she realized she was missing.
You could volunteer your time and skills with a rescue organization or assist with the local county in having low cost Rabies clinics.
When you talk about your problems with others, don’t hesitate to share that you have been praying about it, or when talking to a client about a sick pet, offer to pray with them for their pet. I have talked to veterinarians who offer to pray with every pet they euthanize, and while that may sound scary, very few clients declined.
Try to keep a positive attitude and show your friends and coworkers what it means to be a Christian. If a stranger just walked into your practice and then the one down the road, would they notice a difference between the two and how you interacted with them?
Don’t be afraid to tell people about being a Christian. It’s ok to step out of your comfort zone and take that chance. How is your life different from others? Do not lose hope when praying for a friend, family member, or client. It is ok to send a note or tell someone you are praying for them.
If you go on a short-term trip, hang the pictures from your trip on the wall with a sign to ask about your trip. If you know the person, show your love for them and perhaps ask to pray for them. Eventually they will get curious and come back to you with questions. We keep all the books from our mission trips on the front counter, and clients ask about them all the time. If you haven’t gone on a short-term trip, the next idea could be a great alternative.
Sponsor a veterinary professional through CVM and hang up their information on the wall in your practice. Or you could be a CVM Ambassador by ordering Poster Packs or Coloring Kits to use in your clinic. We hang the professional posters in our clinic and will collect donations from clients who want to support our mission efforts.
When you are doing things with others take the time to pray before a meal. It sends a strong signal.
In my practice we have a culture where we don’t swear. If someone swears, a quarter is deposited into a piggy bank. This “game” has curbed any new staff and doctors from swearing and helps us all be mindful of the words we are using.
Model for the rest of your loved ones, your commitment to Christ by attending church regularly. Make it a priority! Model your servant leadership by tithing your time and talents and being a part of church. Talk about what is going on at your church and invite others to come with you. Forward your calls during that time with a message on your phone that you are in church and they can call an emergency veterinarian or reach you after a certain time.
Take the time to study the Bible and pray alone every day. Keep your focus on Him! I had a friend tell me once that when she got busy and wasn’t studying the Bible every day, she would get cranky!
Take the time to study God’s Kingdom through a course or class offered. Continue to learn to equip yourself for the time you are called to take part in a specific task. The Perspectives course on the World Missions Movement is excellent and you can look online to see if there is one in your area. The Chalmers Institute has an online course on the book Helping without Hurting. Liberty University and others have online classes as well. I recently took a Conflict Management class through Liberty and have used my new skills in the workplace and have some amazing results! Never stop learning and growing in your knowledge of God’s call on your life.
God has given each and every one of His children a dream, which is a calling, and the skills and talents needed to fulfill that dream. Look at Joseph and Abraham in Genesis, David throughout the Old Testament, Peter and Paul in the New Testament, and the many others throughout the Bible.
Sacrifice your practice, your patients and clients, and your relationships to Him. Step out of your boat of comfort, like Peter did in Matthew 14:22-32, keep your eyes on Him and you will see extraordinary God Moments every day. At the end of every day, I like to record my highs (good things), lows (things that didn’t go as I thought), and God Moments (things where I saw God). If you are looking for God in an ordinary life, you will find Him. Every day. It all starts will a willing heart and arms and feet that will serve. Join me in serving our extraordinary God through every ordinary day.