Titles or Testimonies?

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12

We went over this passage in one of my classes at Talbot this past week. What a challenge to examine my heart and see if I am serving God for the right reasons. I think most people have good intentions, but even church service can be done for self-glory. This world loves the places of honor, recognitions, and titles that reflect their tremendous accomplishments. We seek the  MDs, JDs, PhDs, and even in ministry, the MAs, MDivs, and ThMs.

Of course we want to use these things for the Lord, but many times these things get to our heads and we forget the purpose of all our gifts and talents: to serve one another in the love of Christ. This reminded me of a talk I heard a long time ago by Tony Campolo. His challenge? When you die, would we rather have titles decorating your tombstone? Or would you rather have people sharing testimonies of how God has used you to impact His kingdom? I found a clip of my favorite part. It starts at 4 minutes, worth the watch!

What testimonies would you like people to say of you at the end of your life?

Open Door Policy

As a family physician doing primary care, some days are a real joy. Patients are those that I have seen before, they have taken their medications like they are supposed to, and what I did actually helped. Throw in a couple of baby visits and I go home with a smile on my face.

Then there are those days where all the stars align, in a bad way. The patients come in with their list of complaints and nothing that I have tried has had any effect at all. Some are demanding, others are just as frustrated because we can’t figure out what is going on. By the end of those clinic days I can’t even blog about what I’m thinking in my head.

I read this passage recently: ‘That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.” Mark 1:32-34

It never ceases to amaze me to read about how Jesus received those who came to him for help. And those going to him weren’t well-to-do nice people, but the prostitutes, demon-possessed, lepers, and tax collectors. It should serve as a warning that those who recognized the truth about Jesus were not the religious elite whose lives appeared put together. No, it was the outcasts and those shunned by society who saw the hope of Christ, and subsequently experienced His compassion and love.

Sometimes it is hard to love, especially if you are expected to meet needs over and over again. And over and over again, I find myself falling short of God’s command to love as Christ loved us. But, I forget that Jesus also needed to spent time alone with His Father. After that night of healing the entire town, the very next verse in Mark says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

I keep asking God to help me grow in my love for others, to love like Jesus loves. Maybe God’s been telling me, “Come, experience my love first, again and again.”

How have you experienced God’s love recently?

(thanks Rich for the post idea!)

Medical Training Advice: How Do I Decide What Specialty to Go Into?

Here’s the first of the posts I want to do to address commonly asked questions I get about the medical process. If I collect enough of these, I’ll make a separate FAQ section. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

How Do I Decide What Specialty to Go Into?

After your decision about Christ and your spouse, this is probably the next most important decision you will make. Well, maybe the decision to have a kid is somewhere up there too. This is a question I get pretty often, but unfortunately there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer.

Besides going through rotations with an open mind and heart to get the most out of each experience, the best advice that I received is to talk to as many physicians as you can about their daily practice. You might love certain things about a specialty, but you might come across those diseases or procedures once in a blue moon. It might seem cool to be a surgeon, but are you ok with taking out gallstones and appendices the majority of the time? Find out what the bread and butter is in each field and ask if you can see yourself doing that day in and day out.

Having said that, you can do a lot with medicine with a little creativity, flexibility, and perhaps a willingness to sacrifice some monetary compensation. I didn’t want to do patient care everyday so I split my time up between my clinic in Long Beach seeing patients and Harbor-UCLA doing some teaching. If salary is a big deal, here’s a general idea of how much physicians can make in different fields.

If you are wondering what field would be best to serve the Lord with, that one is easy: any field. The question is what do you want to do to serve the Lord.  Do you want to serve the Lord overseas or in a rural area? Then a surgical field, obstetrics (or family medicine with emphasis on high risk OB) would be super helpful.  Realize, though, that certain specialties are more volume dependent so you might not be as free to do ministry work in order to keep your skills up (even more of a concern with residency work-hour restrictions).

But you can really do anything and be used by God to impact his kingdom. There’s a tremendous need for medical education to train up native physicians so even if you are a super sub-specialty, you can meet  needs overseas. Of course, specialty services are much needed for those without insurance or access to care. And not to mention the day-to-day ministry opportunities that you have with your patients, whatever field you re in. The moment they step into the office and particularly the hospital, they become more aware of their mortality and more open to thinking of things of eternal consequences.

If you are interested in how I chose to go into family medicine, check out the free preview.

If there are particular questions you would like to see addressed, please leave me a message or email me at jacktsai@unfailingspring.com.