Definition: “Bedside Manner is a doctor’s attitude or approach towards a patient.”
A doctor may be highly competent and an expert in his field of medicine, but still act like a jerk. Many of us have visited a doctor who could help heal your ailment, but still not make you feel better. My preference is to have doctor who approaches major surgery, removing stiches, or treating a head-cold with compassion and understanding of how I feel.
There are times when you could be “right” about what you share with a teammate, another minister, or a family in the church, but “wrong” about how you approach the conversation. Ministers must be mindful of the attitude and approach to those under their care.
Consider these practical tips to develop good bedside manner in your ministry and your leadership. It is not about remembering every single thing that happens or having a perfect record on sending birthday cards on time. It is about expressing your heart for those you are ministering to.
1 – Life events matter. Touch base when you are aware of a graduation, wedding, birthday, or promotion at work. Not everything warrants a card, but connecting in a meaningful way over phone, text, or by jotting a note over email shows that you care.
2 – Hospitals are for visiting. We all know that its only minor surgery if its on somebody else. There is no such thing as “minor surgery” if it is on you or your child.
3 – Ask engaging questions. Get to know people and show that you care deeper about them than just on the surface. Ask about things, be curious, and seek to understand them.
4 – Just be there. Some things are outside of your experience, or very sensitive matters, or you may just not know what to say. Resist the urge to fill the silence. Sometimes the best bedside manner is just showing up to let somebody know that you care and that you are there to just be with them during a tough time.
Some folks in your life already model this well, so learn from them and imitate their actions. Remember its about the attitude and heart, not just the actions. Pray that the Lord will continue to grow your heart for those you lead and minister to.