Portrait

Jeremiah 18:3–4 (NIV)

3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Eugene Peterson, a pastor, shared a story about getting his portrait painted by a German artist during his student days. Instead of a handsome, wise, caring face, the artist painted a gaunt face with sunken and sunken eyes! This, the artist who had lived through the Second World years when the church supported the German state, said Eugene look like if continued on his course to be a pastor. In the coming years as a pastor, the work will squeeze the morality and compassion out of Eugene until he will look like the person the artist painted. Eugene kept the portrait, occasionally looking at it to remind himself not to become like that.

Being a doctor is a privilege. It is hard and stressful work with long hours. The price is often very high: broken marriages, estranged relationships with children, little friends, and even less leisure time. The work of doctor is similar to the work of a pastor. If we are not careful, it can squeeze the morality and compassion out of us.

A successful doctor will be crowned with prestige, fame, and wealth. All these are very tempting and there is never enough. We may be tempted to take moral shortcuts at get more.  The more successful, the more it demands of us in terms of time and stress. We will have less time to pray, read the Bible, and be involved in a church community. Stress and tiredness make us less compassionate. We became irritable and impatient. Let us resolve early in our career on how much success do we want and to decide how we want to balance our career, family, and church.

Further reading: Mark 8:36

Prayer: Lord, mold us into vessels for your use, and protect us from too much success. Amen.