When I was a fourth year medical student I had to decide on a medical specialty. It boiled down to two choices: surgery or pediatrics. It wasn’t an easy decision, but here’s what clinched it. I was doing a surgical rotation when something went wrong with the patient. Hours later we were still at the operating room hard at work. I was tired and cranky, and I felt stuck. It dawned on me that day that to be a surgeon meant that you had to stick it out for the long haul. You couldn’t just walk out when you got worn out.
I learned something about myself that day; I’m not naturally one who likes to persevere. If there’s an easy way out, sign me up. If there’s a shortcut, I want it. I suppose that’s how I ended up in the Pediatric ER. When the shift’s over I’m out the door. I’m ashamed to admit that my personal life echoes this same attitude. Engaged twice and never married I’m one of those people who actually likes being single. It gives me a lot of freedom. That’s code word for “you’ll never catch me stuck baby.”
I’m not writing this article to knock myself down but to make a point about life. It's not easy to stick things out for the long haul. Whether it’s in your marriage, your job, or your ministry, the temptation is to quit when the going gets tough. The temptation is to question God: Did I really hear Him correctly, when I thought He called me to this gig? Maybe I was imaging the whole thing?
I was brought up with the idea that there was very little difference between vocational ministry and real life ministry. I was taught that everything we do in life is an offering of worship to God. There is very little divide between the sacred and the secular. I think of Brother Lawrence who wrote the amazing book “The Practice of the Presence of God.”
Whether you’re a stay at home mom, or running a global organization, or a missionary to China, your work is significant. What you’re doing has eternal value. You and I can now move past the “what” we’re doing and focus on the “how” we’re doing it. Are you modeling Christ-like leadership in your workplace? Are you enduring despite unfair opposition and difficult circumstances? Remember Joseph? He certainly did. He was wrongly accused, unfairly treated, and had every reason to quit. But Joseph persisted in grace. He saw in his fellow prisoners an opportunity to love and serve others. Eventually, God delivered him from his prison cell and made him second to Pharaoh.
Maybe you feel stuck today, unable to leave your own prison cell. We’re living in a time where independence and freedom are highly fashionable. Individual autonomy seems to be the highest good in our culture.
God’s ways are radically different than our ways. He values faithful perseverance and the willingness to deny yourself and give up your rights for the sake of the cross no matter how difficult the road seems. So whether you’re a baker or a CEO, may God’s word be our beacon and His people our example.
Lina AbuJamra is a pediatric ER doctor who loves Jesus. She writes books, has a weekly podcast on iTunes, and loves to tell people all over the world about God’s love and the reality of hope no matter what. You can visit her blog, or find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Website, and iTunes Podcast