“Why Am I Doing This?” (Hebrews 7:25)

Many years ago, I was discussing the performance of one of our residents with my dermatology residency program director. We both agreed he was clearly intelligent, his patients liked him, and he got along well with the office staff. The problem was he was not showing up to his assigned lectures and clinical rotations and his knowledge base and skill sets were lagging behind his peers. After much deliberation, we decided to place the resident on academic probation. Within weeks, our action produced the desired effect. His attitude improved. His attendance at lectures and clinics was exemplary and his fund of knowledge caught up and even excelled his peers. Two years later, he graduated from our program and secured a prestigious fellowship at a major university medical center. He is now on staff at a premiere specialty medical clinic in that state. 


It was a satisfying outcome, one that the director and I often reminisce with fondness. A few years later, we encountered another problem resident. The circumstances were slightly different but I confidently predicted that we would again be successful in helping this resident find her proper footing. My director nodded but added this warning. “I know we both have high expectations because of our previous experience but I just want to give you this warning.”


“What?” Where was this coming from, I thought?


“I don’t want you to be disappointed if our intervention does not work this time.”


I was puzzled. “Do you know something that I don’t?”


With a thoughtful pause he said, “We were both happy it worked the last time but I realize it may be an exception. We have to be prepared for disappointment and not be discouraged if it doesn’t turn out as we expect.”


I nodded. Yes, I would be disappointed. I was biased by my previous experience but as I pondered my answer, I realized something far more profound. If I am disappointed, then why am I doing this?


When I agree to take on a task, I do so with the expectation that I will give it my best effort and hope that I will be successful. Yet, there are many situations for which this ideal outcome may not occur. Teaching is one such example. If I am not successful, I would be disappointed but it should be not a reason to give it all up. Instead it should motivate me to re-evaluate my teaching style and the relationship I had with the resident. I need to consider nuances of the resident’s personality, work habits, and how they learn. Was there something I was missing that was hindering his progress or was he simply lazy and didn’t deserve to be in the program?  For any activity I undertake, If I am only giving my time and effort with the expectation that I will be rewarded, then my motives are wrong. I need to reorient my thinking, in line with the greatest Teacher who ever lived. 


Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

Hebrews 7:25 (NLT)


Jesus Christ allowed Himself to be led to the Cross to be tortured and executed. He did this, confident that He was being completely obedient to the will of God, His Father. He did this because His sacrifice would reconcile the relationship between God and man that sin had ruptured. Jesus Christ made this sacrifice for everyone but not all accept His offer for salvation and eternal life. Was Jesus concerned that His sacrifice would not be accepted? Would He experience the same disappointment that I experience when my efforts do not lead to the expected outcome for which I was hoping?


Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ does not have the failings that fester within me. Jesus Christ never gave up on me, even when I defiantly rejected Him for so many years. It was only by the persistence of His Holy Spirit speaking to my soul that I finally confessed and repented of my sins and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. 


Why am I doing this? 


My Lord and Savior sacrificed His life for me, His lost lamb, to search for my lost soul even when I continually rejected Him. If I truly care to teach, I will follow the example of the Great Teacher and Shepherd, Jesus Christ.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.


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