I have had the privilege of serving as the chaplain of the Singapore Christian Medical and Dental Fellowship (CMDF) for some time now. Last weekend we had a leaders’ retreat to plan for the ministry going forward. In preparation for the retreat, our chairman, Dr Linus Chua, wrote the following for us to reflect on. I thought it was very well written and accurate and deserved wider exposure. So, if you are a Christian doctor or dentist in Singapore or elsewhere, let me know what you think. Of course, Linus is not implying that every statement applies to every doctor. Still, it is good to reflect on the issues raised.
The characteristics of a typical Christian Singaporean doctor:
• ⁠Capable and talented (used to scoring well academically even from early on in life).
• ⁠Usually more a talker, less of a listener and doer (we like to tell people what to do, and expect them to listen and follow instructions).
•⁠ Usually feels time-deprived, from the trauma of med school and early postgraduate years.
• ⁠Usually used to flexible time, and therefore flexible in many things (we give the excuse that patient care is important and everything else is secondary).
•⁠ Community, if it is there at all, is usually the people at our workplace (not great at keeping friendships and relationships outside of work).
•⁠ We feel we know what’s best, and are less willing to listen to the views of others, especially those junior to us who may actually know more.
•⁠ We have neglected other areas in our life (spiritual disciplines included), but are usually well regarded in Christian circles just by merit of our profession.
•⁠ We have a subconscious expectation that, since we have worked hard, we have therefore have earned the right to live a comfortable life.
•⁠ We are generally sheltered, not mixing around or truly befriending those of a lower socioeconomic status than us, many who may be our patients.
How can we encourage this group of doctors/ dentists to be more like Christ, in our journey of Christian discipleship?
Much was discussed at the retreat. One of our conclusions was that we need to focus on spiritual formation. Many Christian medical mission ministries focus on doing — what Christian doctors need to do as they serve the Lord. There was the feeling that not enough has been done to shape the person, to help him or her be more Christlike in life and work.
There was also the question of the role that community played in spiritual formation; seeing the need for Christian doctors to journey with their peers and those of other generations, as they followed Christ.
Christian doctors and dentists are busy and therefore there must be clarity as to what CMDF ought to be focusing on. We will still be committed to various missional activities but we will be seeking the Lord as to how we can better help our constituency grow in spiritual  maturity through community. I am not sure if it was Voltaire or Peter Parker who said it first but indeed with great power comes great responsibility. Please pray that Christian doctors and dentists will be good stewards of the blessings they have received.