Serving During Surgery

Serving During Surgery

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Portrait of medical professionalsNot long ago, I was once again was well-served by an outstanding medical team.

Over a dozen people at the Billings Clinic pooled their training and talents to repair a small hernia in my abdomen. From beginning to end, they cared for me with the utmost in professional skill and personal attention.

As a result, I’m mending quickly, with no infection, little residual pain, and an even greater respect for the men and women who serve in our medical community.

As Corlette drove me to the hospital at 5:30 am, I prayed that not only would the surgery be successful but also that I would have many opportunities to bless the people who would soon be caring for me. In particular, I wanted to live out the SERVE principle with each person I encountered that day.

  • Smile
  • Explore and empathize (show interest and compassion)
  • Reconcile
  • Value (express appreciation and admiration)
  • Encourage (put wind under their wings)

From the receptionist to the surgeon, I made it a point to greet each member of the team with a big smile and a cheerful “Good morning!” Everyone smiled warmly in return. Sometimes I had time to add, “Thank you for getting up so early today to take care of me,” which usually triggered  a chuckle and opened the way for conversation.

Exploring people’s lives takes so little effort and yet it’s so rewarding. “How long have you worked at the Clinic?” “What do you like most about your job?” “How many patients do you serve in a day?” “Why did you choose to be a surgical nurse?” “How do you feel after a successful operation?” “How can I make your job easier today?”

It’s amazing how much you can learn about people by showing just a little interest in their lives.

I love to tease, so when the technicians and nurses asked their long lists of standard questions, I looked for opportunities to catch them off guard. “Have you had anything to drink this morning?” “No, but someone promised me a coffee IV.” “Have you had any problems with choking lately?” “No, I haven’t done anything to provoke my wife that badly for months.”

Medical workers have trained long and hard for their careers, so they appreciate it when someone values their expertise. Whenever time permitted I asked members of the team to explain various processes and equipment. They seemed to genuinely enjoy sharing their knowledge, which gave me more opportunities to learn about their work and express admiration for what they do.

Of course there is no substitute for saying thank you over and over again. To the aide who wheeled me from room to room. To the nurse who inserted an IV so painlessly. To the anesthesiologist who explained every step in my sedation. To the surgeon who opened and closed me so flawlessly. And, most of all, to my lovely wife, who was watching over me throughout the process and has thoroughly pampered me ever since.

All of these people served me with exceptional care, and I’m glad God gave me the opportunity to encourage them just a little bit in return.

You can do the same with the many people you encounter every day. Whether you’re visiting your doctor or enjoying a family dinner, a business meeting, or a shopping trip to the mall, you can personally and warmly engage every person you meet.

Memorize the SERVE acrostic. It’s so simple. And just before you walk through the door to any engagement, turn on your relational antenna so you see opportunities to serve every person you meet, to show a genuine interest in their lives, to value who they are and what they do, and to encourage them in a way that puts wind under their wings.

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions:

  • Who is one of the most encouraging persons you know? What is it that makes him or her so pleasant to be around? What qualities can you imitate to encourage the people you meet in the days ahead?
  • What are some of the normal circumstances of life that cause people to need encouragement? (e.g., lonely holidays, illness, job setbacks)
  • Describe some of the typical situations in your daily or weekly life that provide opportunities to SERVE others and put wind under their wings.
  • Describe a situation you’ll never forget when someone put wind under your wings.
  • Memorize the SERVE principle and practice it in every social setting. You’ll be surprised how quickly it becomes a relationship-building habit.

Permission to distribute: Please feel free to download, print, or electronically share this message in its entirety for non-commercial purposes with as many people as you like.

© 2013 Ken Sande

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7 Responses to "Serving During Surgery"
  1. Great blog, Ken. And I hope you are healing well. Since I walk through hospital doors almost every day (thankfully not often as a patient!), your reflections are particularly cogent. I find that especially the “little people” (non-surgeons) are often treated with little dignity and are especially appreciative of people who show a genuine interest in them as human beings who have their own lives, issues, and challenges. A great reminder of how to consciously, thoughtfully and even lovingly engage them! Ken, as always, you inspire me!!

    • Isn’t it great to know that there are no “little people” in God’s eyes. Each of us is precious in his sight. When we remember that we are more likely to treat everyone with love and respect.

  2. The most encouraging person I’ve met ? My first Christian mentor was a woman who embodied all of the SERVE principles. Because of the way Lois intentionally loved me, I began to think of myself in a new way, as a person who was created with value and worth. She didn’t realize it, I’m sure, but her kindness was profound to me. Her smile and interest in me was genuine; she helped me reconcile issues from the Lord’s perspective; she was proud of me and showered gracious compliments; she believed in my future; she planted encouraging ideas that we could share together. Lois was SERVE to me and it completely changed my life.

  3. What fresh air I breathe in when I read this blog. What an awesome reminder to be salt and light. What an awesome reminder to be ‘others aware’ and ‘others engaged’. We have so much power in our words and body language-power to both bless or to be destructive. Ken, I echo John, you inspire and bless me! God speed with your recovery!

    • Thank you, Christine. God is certainly hearing your prayers, as my recovery is going remarkably well. May He continue to give us many opportunities to engage others with the love of Christ!

  4. Hi Ken,

    Thank you for the great examples. Sometimes I have difficulty coming up with questions to ask. I have been so used to being un-interested in others, or maybe I should just say self-absorbed sometimes, that asking these questions does not come easily to me. Often times, it is easier to think of questions after an encounter. I really hope to become more other-engaging.

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog and going through the 7 week bible study. What wonderful, applicable, and easy acrostics. I appreciate all the thought, work, research, and care that you put into every post!



    • Thank you, Michelle. I wasn’t very good at these kinds of questions either, for the same reasons. It takes a bit of practice, but by God’s grace we really can grow! What I often think is, “How can I simply show that I’m interested in this person’s life?” And then questions come to mind.

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