Proper Advice (1 Timothy 4:12)

It was the first day of our dermatology residency interviews. For five hours, I and the rest of the dermatology faculty would interview twelve applicants, all vying for our one residency position in dermatology.  On this interview day, I was paired with my colleague Sally, a renowned dermatologic surgeon. During the interviews, we offered the applicants an opportunity to ask us questions. One applicant asked the following, “Can both of you tell me how you have mentored residents who are interested in following in your respective subspecialities?”

It was an intelligent question and we both happily obliged the applicant with our answers. 

After the interview, I turned to my colleague. “Sally, did you ever tell a resident to not pursue a career in dermatologic surgery?”

She thoughtfully smiled and said, “No, I have never told a resident not to pursue a career in dermatologic surgery but for some, I knew they did not have the proper skill sets to succeed in this speciality. For those applicants, I would gently help them to focus upon their strengths and guide them to other possibilities.”

I understood. I love basketball but at a towering five foot two, it is highly unlikely that I would ever be successful in the game. The old adage, “Surgeons are born, not made.” still has merit. Excellent manual dexterity, the stamina to work long hours under grueling physical and mental demands, all mated with intelligence and the ability to make quick decisive decisions-a surgeon must be a physician with a unique set of skills to successfully fulfill these demands. 

The Apostle Paul mentored many great Saints in the Church. Timothy was his adopted son in faith and he devoted two letters in the Bible to instruct him in his faith and ministry. Timothy was a young leader at the church of Ephesus. 

Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

1 Timothy 4:12 (NASB)

Like my colleague’s thoughtful answer, the Apostle Paul gently guided his protege Timothy in his career. He acknowledged Timothy’s physical limitations but chose to focus upon his strengths. He knew that it was these attributes that would allow him to succeed. 

It was proper advice. 

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

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