I got the best compliment at work the other day.
I am a family nurse practitioner, and I was calling one of my patients from the lobby of our office to come back to my exam room. The patient I was calling came through the door, and just as I was closing the door, I spotted another of my patients trying to flag me down from the lobby. It was an elderly gentleman I had taken care of the week before. He was there with his wife that day as she was waiting to be seen by the doctor. I held the door open and waited for him to cross the lobby to speak to me. When he got to me, he said “I just wanted to let you know I got an appointment with the specialist you referred me to, and I’ll be seeing him later this week.” I told him I was very glad he was able to get in so quickly, and that I hoped he’d get some answers to his problem soon. The exchange between us couldn’t have lasted longer than two minutes, max, and we said our quick goodbyes. When I turned my attention back to the patient I had just called back, she was smiling, patiently waiting for me. I weighed her, as usual, and led her back to the exam room to address her problems. Once inside the room, all was business as usual, and then she stopped and said, “I’m sorry, I just have to tell you something.” I immediately thought, “Uh-oh, another disgruntled patient who wishes they could’ve seen the doctor instead of me,” but this wasn’t the case at all. She said, “I just wanted to tell you how refreshing it is to see someone who loves her job so much. You didn’t have to take the time to speak to that gentleman, but you did, and it was obvious that you really care about him. I just wanted you to know it didn’t go unnoticed.”
That sweet compliment made me think about several things.
First of all, I do, in fact, love my job.
Prior to that moment, I hadn’t thought about it all that much. I knew I loved it, no doubt, but I had never thought about it in terms of how others perceive my attitude toward my job. I was glad to hear that someone noticed how passionate I feel about helping my patients.
Secondly, I felt a twinge of guilt.
My first reaction to her had been “Oh no, another disgruntled patient.” I assumed she was going to react negatively to seeing me instead of the physician. Unfortunately, there are many patients who are not shy in the least about expressing their malcontent when they realize they have to see me instead of the physician. Some have even said, to my face, no less, that I was “not as good as a doctor, and they shouldn’t have to pay as much to see me.” It’s o.k. I’m a big girl. Nobody promised me this would be an easy job. I understand completely if someone wants to see their doctor, but it doesn’t always feel good to be considered “second best”, especially for someone as competitive as me. Plus, it’s just mean to be rude. But this lady was not rude. She was precious. I appreciated more than she’ll ever know that she was kind enough to share with me what she did.
Third, it stirred up some feelings of inspiration.
I’ve always been pretty easily “fired up”. When I played basketball, one line into “Eye of the Tiger” and I was hyped up for any game. But she inspired me to not only continue to work hard at doing what I love, but she made me realize what an impact we can have on others simply by encouraging them. I don’t know that lady’s religious background, but I do know that the practice of encouraging others has Biblical roots. I like how the New King James version translates Hebrews 10:24-25. It says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” That’s exactly what that lady did for me: stirred up love and good works. She made me want to “keep on keeping on” as the saying goes. Her kind words made me want to do even better.
I have thought about her statement often, even to the point of testing it on others. I have never been one to hold back a compliment, but I also don’t just give empty statements. I find joy in giving sincere, genuine compliments. I don’t think it’s honest to tell someone something nice just to be polite. I almost find it insulting when I receive a “compliment” that was obviously just to be polite or socially acceptable. There are few things more touching than receiving a compliment that you know came straight from the heart, and I now try to do only that. I also try to be more aware of expressing them as soon as I think them– it’s always more fun give a “drive-by” compliment and catch someone pleasantly off-guard.
My job gives me so many opportunities to serve God.
I am able to help others by alleviating pain, providing comfort, and serving the less fortunate. Sometimes, I have to deliver bad news, but sometimes, I can offer hope. No matter the circumstances, I am always able to offer love. I can show each and every patient that I care about them, even if they have no one else. I can sit down and listen when my patients need to tell me about the stress in their lives, and I can provide an outlet for them when they feel like they have no one else they can talk to.
My biggest hope is that while I continue to provide health care to my patients, the most profound impact I have on them is that they see my light shine, and that they can see Him working through me. Ultimately, I want to use my job to bring others to Christ.