Jesus was clear about his purpose to engage others: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Matthew explains that Jesus came “not to be served but to serve…” (Matthew 20:28). Similarly, our calling as Christian nurses is to serve people and positively influence others.
Nursing practice represents a unique mission for kingdom work. Simple acts of healing may occur through a caring conversation, a concerned question, or a reassuring touch. We can give our presence when we take advantage of completing nursing work such as helping a patient with ambulation, assisting with a bath, or giving a foot rub.
At other times, as Beth Fahlberg, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, explains, “Presence is what we can offer when we can't do anything else, whether we're caring for a patient who's struggling valiantly to live or one who's actively dying.”
In endeavoring to care for another’s spirit through being present, we can receive
direction by intently seeking the source of all strength and wisdom through the Word of God and, as John 14:26 points out, the Holy Spirit. These actions ready us and sharpen our vision to see when caring presence is needed: prayer for divine help to care for others; pleading for God’s help, comfort, compassion, guidance, and sustainment; asking God daily to reveal opportunities to engage with patients, family members, and colleagues; and, trusting God to meet our own deep needs as we care for others.
As Christian nurses, we earn trust and become links between patients and their relationships with God and others. Consider how these questions can help you practice presence.
--What kind of difference can a nurse make when he or she stops to be present with a patient who’s afraid?
--What spiritual gains might result as the Holy Spirit guides your practice?
--When are good opportunities for you to be present with individuals and groups?
--Where is your presence most needed daily?
--How can you be present with individuals while still competently completing your daily work?
Our fellow healthcare workers also can be blessed through our presence. For instance, the next time you enter a break room and notice a sea of heads with phones in hand, refuse to give in to the status quo of a me mentality. Instead, seek out a meaningful conversation. God can multiply our work of serving people and him through our strategic presence in healthcare.
This content is excerpted from the article “How Can We Practice Mindful Presence?” by Jayne Jennings Dunlap, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, and appears in the July/September 2019 Journal of Christian Nursing. Access the full article on the JCN website through July.
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