Dr. Walt Larimore is a gifted, award-winning family physician, educator, author, and businessman. I met Dr. Larimore in 1995, as we began to design and teach on a course we called The Saline Solution to help healthcare professionals see how they could appropriately address their patients’ spiritual needs. Over the last 20+ years, thousands of men and women in health care in over 50 countries have learned simple, winsome ways to bring the gospel into patient care.
While I provided much of the theological underpinnings for the course, Walt brought his practitioner’s wisdom and insight that made the course practical and believable. Graduates of The Saline Solution (and now in the updated version Grace Prescriptions) continue to tell us, “I can do this,” even if they don’t have the gift of evangelism.
Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned from my friend, Dr. Larimore, about bringing faith conversations into a medical practice that are applicable to any workplace.
Evangelism is a process and usually involves a number of people.
People don’t usually come to Christ in one big leap of faith. The journey of faith takes place over a course of time as a person makes a multitude of small, incremental decisions that lead to the big decision of trusting and following Jesus. Walt called these “Many mini-decisions.” Jesus compared evangelism to farming in John 4.
Do you not say, “Four months more and then the harvest?” I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” (John 4:35-38)
Human hearts usually need a lot of cultivating by more than one person before they are ready to receive the truth of the gospel. And, as Walt reminded me, “To rush the harvest in farming or evangelism usually ruins the fruit.”
Find out what the Holy Spirit is doing and join Him there.
Our job in evangelism is to discover where God is already at work in people’s lives and join him there, not force a conversation or push someone to pray an insincere prayer. To help him remember to listen for spiritual needs, Walt’s nurse placed a reminder on all his charts that simply read, “WIGD,” what is God doing. Jesus reminded his disciples,
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him … (John 6:44)
God is in charge of the pace on someone’s spiritual journey and it’s always problematic to run ahead of God. Walt believes that Peter’s admonition is critical to recognizing and responding to what the Spirit is doing.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect … (1 Peter 3:15)
Spiritual conversation should always be in response to a person’s interest and characterized by gentleness and respect.
Sharing the love of Jesus begins with small things.
What is it that causes someone to ask or be interested in our faith? At Heritage Family Physicians in Kissimmee, Florida, Walt and his partner John Hartman were committed to share the love of Jesus with every patient—without backing up the waiting room. To the surprise of healthcare professionals who attended The Saline Solution, Walt and John were able to do this and still be named the “Most Efficient Practice in America” by Medical Economic magazine. While it’s thrilling to be able to explain how someone can join Jesus’ story of redemption, showing Christ’s love begins with practicing excellent medicine, exhibiting godly character, and showing compassion.
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men. (Proverbs 22:29)
Walt believes that people don’t care if he’s a good person until they know that he’s a good doctor. That’s true for everyone’s work. If we want people to pay attention to our faith, we must first pay attention to the quality of our work. And, when good work is wed with godly character and genuine concern, people can feel the love of Christ before they hear about it.
Whether we have the gift of evangelism or not (and most don’t), these principles will help all of us be the witnesses in the workplace that God calls us to be.
Want to learn more?
You can learn more about Dr. Larimore and read his bogs to help you keep you family highly healthy at www.drwalt.com
You can learn more about The Saline Solution and Grace Prescriptions at https://cmda.org/resources/publication/grace-prescriptions