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Why Faith-Based Healthcare Demands Unique Leaders

The holiday season is a time to reflect on the bountiful gifts God has bestowed upon us as believers, and as such it is a strong reminder for faith-based organizations of the primary reason they exist and what makes them unique

From the outside, a faith-based healthcare organization may look similar to a secular one, but upon closer look, it is clear there are significant differences between the two. The core of a faith-based healthcare provider is the ‘why’ behind what it does. It changes everything. Operating under a greater purpose — not only the mission set out by the organization itself but the personal calling to serve God — unites the staff toward a common goal. Providing the best care possible, therefore, is not simply about doing a job successfully, but serving others humbly and with excellence, in a way that reflects the Lord well.

This kind of unique organization can only require unique leaders. Selecting a new individual for such a position, then, is not a task to take lightly. Being well-qualified on paper, though important, does not necessarily mean candidates are right for the job. An entirely new perspective must be added to the search process for a faith-based healthcare provider. Do the candidates share the core values of the organization? Will they champion its mission? Do they exhibit the character qualities needed to lead in a way that honors God and builds unity, in addition to simply ensuring the facility runs smoothly and igniting growth?

Faith-based healthcare systems have mission statements and visions they seek to embody, and to be successful in doing so, leaders must be wholeheartedly committed to those principles. They must not only be on board with the concepts, but able to contribute to furthering them. As a leader they will be expected to be very familiar with them and filter all decision-making through these identifying characteristics and goals. If a candidate is only lukewarm about the mission or unsure how to put it into practice, the organization will suffer.

As leaders with strong spiritual values, we are called to be holy, or “set apart.” This doesn’t mean we are perfect, as we know we are far from it. However, that individual calling is what makes faith-based healthcare organizations different, and understanding this uniqueness is crucial to leading well. Faith-based healthcare leaders must be able to resist the temptation to take the easy route or follow trends when the missional option is more difficult, or simply different than what most others are doing. By the same token, they must be willing to take risks with the goal of improving patient care and furthering the mission when needed, all the while maintaining the utmost integrity.

Keeping an open mind and being able to ask for forgiveness are also key qualities to possess for a leader in faith-based healthcare. Humility is a large part of being a proper leader, and it helps foster unity around the mission rather than around oneself. Missteps will happen, but the ability to take responsibility and then redirect toward a better alternative is an important quality for great leaders.

One must also stand by decisions that have been made out of conviction, not allowing outside pressures to influence. Above all, the leader must have a relationship with God and let His Spirit guide him or her, seeking to serve the Lord before all else, and therefore doing his or her absolute best at all times. Serving the Lord — the creator of the universe — should spark a sense of responsibility and honor, a desire to provide the most excellent care possible in His name.

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