The last 48 hours has been an absolute whirlwind for the English family. Actually, the action started Saturday morning when Camber fell on her right arm and broke it while playing soccer. (It’s no longer the “beautiful game” but the violent game.)
After a trip to the ER and half a cast, we were supposed to see an orthopedic specialist on Monday. The break happened right at the growth plate and the ER doc told me that they were more than likely going to have to set the cracked bone in place. Shouldn’t be surgery but it won’t be pleasant, it’s a common break so nothing to worry about.
Our visit to the first orthopedic doctor was a complete disaster. The doctor walked into the room, went straight to the film and started talking into his recording speaking some foreign language. I mean it was English of sorts but using a lot of big words. He stops talking into the recording long enough to ask Camber the legal question he’s supposed to ask when a child comes in with a broken bone – “how did you break your arm.”
He doesn’t introduce himself to either Amy or I, nor Camber. He doesn’t chit-chat at all. His next comment was to Camber. “We need to pop this bone back into place and we can either do this John Wayne style or surgery.” Camber asks what is John Wayne style and he says – “We move the bone in place and it hurts about like it did when you broke it.”
Amy and I are in stunned silence at this point. Camber starts crying like crazy. The doctor starts speaking back into his recorder. “I’ll have the nurse set up a surgery time for you since she is too anxious to set the bone and I don’t do surgeries anymore.” He left the room and never returned. We then waited another hour and a half to get an appointment. And then there were even more goofs from them but it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter because when we left that office, we were never coming back. Ever.
I refuse to allow a doctor to treat my family that fails to understand that their job is to do more than to just fix the problem.
Fortunately for us, Tuesday we had the exact opposite experience at Tallgrass Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. It felt like going to the family doctor. The nurses and doctors were incredibly patient and clear in their explanations. They joked and teased Camber. They treated more than the problem. And because of that, if we ever have another broken bone, we know where we are going.
As pastors and spiritual leaders, we better understand that we have the same mandate. When someone enters our life group or church, we have a choice. To “treat” the obvious problem we see (which may or may not be right or even the most important thing to treat) or rather choose to take a little more time and walk with them a bit to see what God is already doing and join Him there.
We can either treat the person like a patient or a sojourner. And treating people like the first doctor, like they are just a person with a problem to be fixed, a project of sorts, will never result in true healing and life change. Never.
Good leaders walk in the mess with others. They see more than just the obvious. They choose to the slower, longer process of development rather than quick fix. But all of that flows out of the heart of a leader who understands that we’re supposed to treat more than just the problem.