‘The more I know about the complexities of the human body, the more I appreciate the intelligent design and mortality of humankind’: An Interview with Dr Lennard Chan

In this part of Everyday Christianity: Faith@Work, Dr Lennard Chan shares with us how his training, knowledge and experience as a doctor shapes his view of the gospel. Lennard sees the human physical body as a magnificent masterpiece created by God. An active serving Christian, Lennard started serving as a leadership camp committee member in the Varsity Christian Fellowship in school and a choir member in Church since he was a youth. He is currently serving as an usher at Sunday services and a retreat facilitator at Wesley Methodist Church. 

Tell us about yourself, Lennard.

Being in a mission school led me to become a Christian when I was in primary four. In school, I was a prefect, students’ councillor, and had served in the Varsity Christian Fellowship leadership camp committee. I started attending Paya Lebar Methodist Church regularly as a teenager. That was where I was baptised, sang in the choir and later got married to my wife Lynn. I spent 13 years abroad and only started attending Wesley since coming back to Singapore in 2016.

I have been a medical doctor for 30 years, having studied in Singapore and training as a surgeon. I then had the opportunity to work in plastic and reconstructive surgery in London NHS hospitals, later appointed locum consultant in Birmingham before moving all the way over to a private hospital in Beijing where I headed the Plastic Surgery department. The time then came for me to return home and it was  then that I decided to pivot to non-invasive aesthetic medicine.

What made you decide to pursue medicine?

I never really thought about why I wanted to be a doctor. I had no lofty ideals about saving the world or curing cancer. I was interested enough in the science of it, the way the body works, and my grades allowed me to apply and get accepted into the local university.

How do you integrate your Christian beliefs with your job?

To me, being a doctor and a Christian is really quite complementary. Having studied the human body and how it works, there really isn’t any anatomy that can explain consciousness and reasoning. The more I know about the complexities of the human body, the more I appreciate the intelligent design and mortality of humankind. It is really not difficult for me to see God as our Father, the wonderful creator and great architect of the universe, and us as created beings and His beloved children.

How do you live out your faith at the workplace?

I work in a very busy clinic, with lots of interactions with staff and patients, but it is mostly directed and functional. There are not many opportunities to chat about life and existential issues with my patients. But I do hope in the consultations, I am reflecting the person that God wants me to be, by showing compassion and holistic care whenever I can.

We live in a multi-racial society that places a lot of emphasis on racial harmony. Therefore, I want to be discerning, and considerate and sensitive towards my patients and colleagues. I am comfortable discussing my faith if I am asked or when I know I am in Christian company. But it is more important for me to reflect my faith through my work ethic and interactions with my patients and colleagues at work. Being approachable and caring are just two of the ways I can live out my faith at work.

Do you face any challenges at the workplace as a Christian?

Being professional at work is important. I think being a Christian doctor, my responsibility is to give my patients the best advice for their condition and offer an excellent standard of care in any treatment that I do. I am careful not to accede to the wishes of patients or staff when they are not in line with my professional opinion. Thankfully I have not been asked to compromise the standards that I maintain for myself.

Do you serve in any ministries in the Church?

I am currently serving as an usher on Sundays at the 9.30am traditional service. This works for me in my current season – I get to go to Church earlier before the worship service and sometimes, staying back a little later to help out or connect with friends. I find great joy in meeting people weekly. Extending a warm smile or simple greeting almost always evokes a positive response, even from slightly frazzled congregants who are rushing to be on time for Church.

Besides ushering, I am also serving as a facilitator at the Strangely Warmed Retreats, something I have found very beneficial in church life. It has given me the opportunity to rest and reflect on my own life, and also give a listening ear to others who may be going through a hard time or through some transitions in life.

My hope for 2024 is to help to develop a ministry for men – a community that can provide support and encouragement for the jaded mature man in our midst in their Christian walk and family life.

How do you balance time for ministry and serving God?

I believe that starting the week right on a Sunday in church makes the rest of the work week so much easier. This sets the tone for the rest of the week, as it makes me more conscious and intentional about reflecting the heart of Christ as I go about my daily activities and interactions with others.

Regular interactions with fellow believers, whether for a sports game or a meal, discussing the life issues we all face, help me see God in the mundane and ordinary. This enables me to live the Christian life beyond the Church and in the marketplace.

What are your working hours like? And do you keep a regular rhythm of Sabbath?

My working hours are 11am to 8pm. I believe in working according to the rhythm commanded and created by the Lord. This means following His example when he rested on the 7th day. Hence, it has always been my desire not to work on Sundays. Thankfully for most of my career, my Sundays can be set aside for God, family and rest.

How do you destress?

The key really is to be able to release stress whenever a difficult situation arises and not let it accumulate by the end of the day. The pursuit of excellence does leave little room for mistakes but we do make them and I try not to get too hung up, to forgive myself and move on. Having an exercise routine helps and of course good Christian music is therapeutic.

Where and how have you seen God working in your life so far?

I have seen God working in my career transitions, opening doors abroad to work in the UK where I had a great work-life experience, being involved in the International Fellowship in my church in Edinburgh. He also paved the way for my transition to Asia where I could work in a private hospital in Beijing when my wife had a great work opportunity there. Finally, He engineered a way back to Singapore when Lynn had to return home, and He kept me safe in China for 18 months during that transition period with a community of loving friends. Even now as I embark on a new adventure in my current clinic, I continue to see God’s hand directing my path. May I always remember that God is my strong tower, and may I continue to trust Him as He has been faithful!”.

Photos courtesy of Dr Lennard Chan

Read also: ‘God is the master programmer and engineer of the universe’: An Interview with Vincent Hong, Engineer‘He can weave a beautiful life tapestry out of our sorrows and brokenness’: An Interview with Jody Koh, Dressmaker; Directions 2024 – Discipleship in the Workplace

Everyday Christianity: Faith@Work is an interview series with Wesleyans from diverse age groups and walks of life. In this series, published in conjunction with our Church’s theme for 2024 – Directions 2024: Discipleship in the Workplace , we hope to discover more about the perspectives of Wesleyans in different vocations on how they live out their faith every day, specifically in their workplace, homes, or communities they serve. More than just stories of success in victory, we also want to hear their stories of perseverance that point to the reality that our Father is a living God who is ever present in the mountain peaks and valley lows of our everyday lives.

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