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Our Indulgences and Calling in Dentistry

By David Campbell | February 08, 2017

by David Campbell, DDS

As Christians, we are expected to provide service “as to the Lord.” Yet, since I have always worked in retail dental clinics, I have often wondered if the Lord would want our indulgences. His walk on earth was a humble walk and did not include a "place to lay his head," both in Matthew and Luke. He did not seek an earthly kingdom or palace.

Are the latest and greatest dental practices indulgent? Perhaps within a calling for some, the indulgent is providing a service for those who are accustomed to such facilities. It may be said that every healthcare facility should be indulgent to honor the professional nature of caring for the "image of God." We are surrounded by wondrous images of gorgeous office designs and successful practices crediting their demand for excellence as the key to their success.

Take a deep breath and release any jealous dreams and visions. We have callings and a variety of gifts within our profession. After years of practicing in lower income communities, which have a blend of middle income community interspersed, there is a role for the common dental practice. More important than the polish of our reception room is the priority of serving each patient as a cherished reflection of God. If the practice has an older atmosphere, enjoy the comfortable nature of caring for patients with less financial pressures. The indulgence of the community should come from "their" generosity and capability. It needs to be seen as an indulgence and blessing that fits with your personality and your budget and serves the needs of a community. It may come from the Lord, but if not, we shall proudly serve each with dignity. The joys of service to low income communities often include deeper gratitude and greater respect for our efforts. Your efforts to share the gospel may have deeper significance in this community. Your role in the community may be greater in that more people may access your services. Yet, all these are for the Lord to reveal as we explore the calling of the Lord in our lives.

Recently, as I was sharing with the USC/CMDA fellowship, I awarded myself as the most interesting dentist I know. Yet, I have not been blessed with great polish, and I often wonder why we struggle to make ends meet. Of course, government programs strive to keep our incomes meager. We work with fee schedules that are 50 percent below the average. After 20 years of practicing, I'm still putting in six days a week, though shorter days. I have some flexible time that I give to the homeless clinics as well. It's a calling that has been very clearly directed into my life by circumstances that I have bristled at for years. Again, I'm not disappointed and do have gratitude for becoming the most interesting dentist that I know. I'm striving in this column to encourage all of us to enjoy and accept our callings, whether flashy or common, indulgent or spartan. 

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