Who Am I: How Identity Drives Practice

Your identity drives your practice.

The story is told of a rabbi who was out gathering supplies. On the way back to his cottage he absent-mindedly took a wrong turn. Suddenly he heard a voice from the dark, Who are you? And what are you doing here?

The rabbi had unknowingly ended up at a Roman garrison. The voice had come from a young sentry keeping guard. Being a rabbi, he answered the question with a question,

Being a rabbi, he answered the question with a question, How much do they pay you to stand guard and ask that question?

Five drachmas, the young sentry responded. The rabbi then said, I will pay you twice that amount to come to my cottage and ask me that question every morning.

I’ve been asking the same question of myself recently, Who am I?

I came up here to Idaho to learn medical ministry. There was a significant cost though, a sacrifice if you will. I would have to be paid as a pastor, one third of what my colleages would be making.

The calling from God was so clear. My heart was so moved from the experiences, I just had to do it.

But even with all that I still find myself asking the question, Who am I? More specifically I’m asking the following question: Am I a doctor who happens to practice medical missionary work (praying with patients, sharing a helpful bible verse)? Or am I a medical missionary who happens to practice clinical medicine? To put it more succinctly am I a doctor first or a medical missionary first?

Perhaps more importantly, is there even a difference?

My mentor tells me, “You graduated from the school of Medical Evangelism. You are a Medical Missionary first before you are a doctor.”

If I’m honest, on most days I think of myself as a doctor. It’s my training. I’m called Dr. Roquiz everyday.

As I look at my mentor, he definitely sees himself as a medical missionary who happens to practice clinical medicine. He has this deep desire to meet with patients in their homes and present a life-changing Gospel message.

Here are 3 key differences of what sets a medical missionary apart from a doctor. These differences explain how your primary identity alters your practice of medicine.

1. The priority of the Gospel.

A medical missionary believes she has the life-changing Truth that can fundamentally change the life of a patient. Bringing the Gospel in conversation or deed or principle or written word becomes the priority. The practice of medicine and clinical outcomes become subordinate to this overarching goal.

2. The essentialism of sacrifice

A doctor’s life is marked by sacrifice at first by rigorous training and study. However, this is typically followed by a “good life” which he can cash in on the reward for all his hard work. The life of a medical missionary is marked by sacrifice throughout. She begins with sacrifice. Continues with sacrifice. And ends with sacrifice.

Notable missionaries were marked by lives of sacrifice. Being a medical missionary is no different.

3. The drive of evangelism

A doctor is driven toward good outcomes, patient satisfaction and the bottom line. The medical missionary is driven toward something else: evangelism. Nothing becomes more rewarding than to see a soul who has been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Identity drives practice. What is your identity? How does it drive you?

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  • Reply Inday February 13, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Challenging post. As much as I want to say I’m a missionary first and a doctor second, I’m not. There’s enough hoops to jump through in residency to keep me from practicing like I want to. And with graduation around the corner, I’ve pretty much given up trying and have deferred it to post-residency. So yes, my practice is currently being driven by my identity as a graduating resident.

    • Reply Andrew Roquiz February 16, 2017 at 6:59 am

      Hello Inday, Thank you for your honest feedback. I found the same thing in residency. In fact, even when I started practicing medicine I still found it a challenge to meet the spiritual needs. Many times the demands of the medicine seemed to crowd out the opportunities for spiritual need. It takes a while to hit your stride in clinical medicine. But once you do, you’ll notice at least some margin opening up for spiritual care. Your experience certainly isn’t a unique one.

  • Reply Nathan February 25, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Being a medical missionary is a way of life, as opposed to the occupation of being a doctor. Thanks for helping to clarify the distinctions.

    • Reply Andrew Roquiz February 26, 2017 at 10:55 am

      Yes. It seems to me a careful but an important distinction between who I am vs what I do…

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