Over the weekend, I remembered a profound lesson my father taught me years ago. As an eye doctor, he explained the shift he made after less than a year of practice. In his eagerness, zeal, and knowledge, he shared that he could diagnose the patient's eye problem quickly by observation and begin thinking through the treatment process. Often, he was able to determine the course of action without even talking with the patient! This resulted in him being able to move more patients in and out of his office, so he could help more patients and increase productivity.
Yet, he came to realize that, even though he proved the necessary physical treatment of the patient's eye, he did not treat their human need to share their story. Although he knew the necessary course of action to treat their eye, he deprived them of sharing the background on what occurred, their pain, and how it has impacted them. My dad recognized the need to allow patients to share their story as part of their healing process. Today, he is known not only for the precision and work he physically does to help heal others, but he is also esteemed for his compassionate heart and sensitivity to others.
I was reminded of this story at an annual retreat with the Worthington Resource Pantry Board Meeting. As part of the visioning process, a facilitator asked a question that went beyond the physical aspects the pantry provides regarding food, resources, and training to those in need. The facilitator asked the question: "How do you want clients to feel that are serviced at the Pantry?"
The members of Board all agreed it was a profound question - it isn't just about supplying physical needs to others; it's also about empathesizing with them and treating the whole person. Our conversations lifted the tone of the meeting, as we talked about the need to provide dignity, hope, pride, welcomed, invited, and a sense of community to the question.