By Jim Detwiler, CHM Chairman of the Board of Directors
Editor’s note: This information was published in the September 2019 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.
Jim Detwiler remembers the strain of carrying the burden of sin common to every person—and he’s thankful every day for God lifting it from him.
Though the Christian Healthcare Ministries’ board chairman since 2003 isn’t an artist with brush and paint, he believes he, and all Christians, paint with their lives a daily picture of the Lord and his love.
“There’s a story I like very much of a little girl in the first grade during art class painting a picture at her desk. The teacher came over and asked her, ‘What are you painting?’ The little girl said, ‘I’m painting a picture of God.’
“The teacher said to her, ‘No one knows what God looks like.’ The girl said, ‘They will when I’m finished.’”
Every CHM employee—and every Christian—is creating such images in every interaction with others, Jim says.
“With every person with whom we come in contact, we’re painting a picture of Jesus Christ and of the face of God,” Jim says. “That’s an enormous responsibility and a wonderful opportunity.”
When he was not long out of college and not long married to his wife, Janet, his attitude was much different.
“When I was a young man, I wasn’t a good person,” he said, consistent with Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” However, he adds, “I had a broken heart; you go so far and know you need help.”
In 1960 Jim, his wife, Janet, and their young son went to a revival meeting led by a pastor who had ministered to Jim’s grandfather, leading him to the Lord shortly before his death.
“At the revival meeting the people there told me that they loved me,” Jim says. “I fell down on my knees, dumped a load of sin, and asked the Lord to save me. God has always been faithful.”
The decision made that night has guided his life and career, which followed a vocational path outside the family business. Born in Champagne County, Ohio, Jim grew up on an 80-acre farm. His father, grandfather, and family on Janet’s side were farmers.
“I thought I wanted to be a schoolteacher, so I went to Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio. Farming at that time was evolving to where you either had to get really big or get out of it, so I decided to go to college.
“At Wittenberg I took a course in accounting and loved it. I earned a degree in accounting and started out working for a stone company that built 35 miles of Interstate 75.”
He briefly went into business for himself, running a car dealership (“That wasn’t for me.”) He went back to accounting, advancing to controller for progressively larger companies.
He saw a job advertised for financial director for an Urbana, Ohio hospital. He applied, and was hired.
“I loved it,” Jim says. “I got my MBA with a concentration in hospital administration. I spent 24 years with Sisters of Mercy hospitals, and was president of several of them. They bought a hospital in Willard, Ohio and said they wanted me to take over and turn it around. I spent 10 years there, and then retired.”
His describes his core management value in one word: integrity.
“You have to do what you say, and work according to what you say you believe,” Jim says. “The employees, medical staff, and everyone else depend on you.”
What is his management philosophy? “Engagement!”
“When we had a construction project that affected nurses and their jobs, I would get them involved,” he said. “When similar decisions affected other parts of the hospital, I got the people there involved. It worked.”
All the while, Jim and Janet were growing their family. The two met in 4-H band while in high school. Jim played the drums, Janet the clarinet. In 2019 they’ll celebrate their 60th anniversary.
“Janet helped me through college, has always been faithful and supportive, is a wonderful mother, and I’m incredibly blessed because of her and our kids,” Jim says.
They have four adult children: the oldest son, Jay, is a nurse at Ohio State University; next-oldest son, Joel, worked with Honda and is now retired; daughter Janine works at Ohio State University; Jon, the youngest, is superintendent at Fremont (Ohio) City Schools.
Jim joined the CHM board in 2001, and became chairman two years later.
“Like every board member, I love this ministry, the staff, and the people who depend on us to do what we say we’ll do,” Jim says. “It’s a privilege to be part of it, to be making a difference every day in the lives of CHM members.
“It’s quite a picture being painted, and the colors get brighter every day.”