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Ephesians 6:5-8

In Uncategorized on February 3, 2013 by David

5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.

I remember talking with Jon Huang a few years back, when I went back to Houston for winter break as a first year medical student when he was a MS3, and he shared this passage with me. I was asking him what third year was like, and what kind of advice he had. I was still on the emotional high of starting medical school – everything was still new, just being in the hospital excited and terrified me – and I was confused when he shared with me from Ephesians.

Slave? What is this? I’ve never thought of myself that way. I’m smart. If I have a problem with something, I will ask questions and confront them head-on. I’m sincere, why would people be mean or unfair to me? Even I am not particularly impressed with someone, I haven’t really encountered any unfairness or anything that a frank discussion wouldn’t help overcome. I didn’t feel oppressed – it is a privilege to be here and learn.

This year, as I jumped into third year, I worked harder than ever before. I woke up earlier, read more, and stayed later than I had ever before, all in the hopes of showing off and impressing the residents and attendings. I was not afraid of being scutted out – when other students complained about doing small tasks, I thought, what’s the big deal? It’s part of the hierarchy, and if I do more, maybe they’ll like me more and they would have more time to teach. I am trading work for learning. That’s just how it is. But still, what is this slave nonsense? I didn’t understand.

But 5 weeks into surgery, my resolve is starting to crack. This is the first time during third year when I feel like I can just do nothing right, and when there is injustice, there is no recourse. I felt invisible, forgotten when the team went to run the list and to eat breakfast together. There wasn’t anyone looking out for me, even as other students were afforded the opportunity to do more. Even as I broke eighty hours for two of the last five weeks, purposely choosing the most intense call schedule so I have more exposure, I feel like I have learned less than even on the light schedule of psychiatry.

If I am to be objective, this year has been a year of serving earthly masters. I strain so much to curry the favor of residents, chiefs, and attendings, that I have lost track of my purpose and my goals. Why am I here? What is the direction of my life? To be honest, I wasn’t bothered too much by it at the beginning of the year, when I felt like I was getting fair results for my hard work – but it only by grace that I am again reminded of my brokenness. My frustration stems from my brokenness, and my unwillness to set aside worldly ambitions. I am a slave to my brokenness, shackled by my pride and ambition.

For some reason, I was really reminded of this passage from Ephesians this morning, even though it wasn’t the topic of the sermon. I am reminded how my self-perceived strengths are my greatest weaknesses, and I am how distant, far from where I want to be.

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