Too Many Voices (2 Corinthians 11:24-29)

“This will be very exciting and I am happy to be associated with this!”

Many years ago, I was asked to participate in a new skin cancer center associated with a local hospital. The medical director, Dr. Smith, was a dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon and he wanted me, a dermatopathologist, to perform all of the diagnostic work. Because the cancer center would be part of the local hospital, it was agreed that I would join the medical staff and be credentialed as a member of the pathology department. I was acquainted with the president of the pathology group, Dr. Jake Rogers, through his stellar reputation in the community, and I was pleased to have an opportunity to work directly with him. 

For several weeks, I interacted with over a dozen different individuals involved with varying stages of the cancer center. Dr. Rogers was proactive in drafting a contract between his pathology group and myself before the others presented their contracts to me. As I reviewed the final draft, I was concerned about a detail which I had previously spoken to Dr. Smith. If I was ill or on vacation, I wanted to have my two dermatopathology colleagues, who work for me, also become credentialed, assuring there would always be coverage for the cancer center. I brought this up with Dr. Rogers on a phone call, asking if we could add this provision to our contract. His tone, usually cheerful, turned decidedly cold. “I understand you need coverage and this is something we need to work on.” He paused and then continued. “You know, I would appreciate it if you came to me first to discuss contractual issues. I am spearheading these talks and I don’t appreciate being pushed aside by you or anyone else. Dr. Smith is not overseeing your contract, I am.”

He was absolutely correct; I was chagrined. “I am very sorry, Jake. I meant no disrespect nor was I trying to sidestep you or go over your head. It is my naivete regarding this entire process.”

There were too many moving parts, too many voices, associated with this negotiation. There were hospital administrators,  medical staff, human resources, Jake’s pathology group, the laboratory manager, and Dr. Smith and his cancer center. I had separate verbal and email discussions with some but not everyone at the same time. Although ostensibly all of the discussions were to support the new cancer center, each party had their own agenda which were not all congruent.

Many voices pull us in different directions. Whether we are students, working in a job, or retired, life is often complicated by numerous competing interests. The Apostle Paul understood this. 

Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? 

2 Corinthians 11:24-29 (NLT)

In this passage, Paul defended his ministry and answered his critics at the church within the city of Corinth. If he seemed distracted or preoccupied, he was! He endured numerous physical trials and harsh persecution while shepherding the nascent church at Corinth. Yet, he never lost his focus. In fact, he welcomed any perceived weakness that he experienced because it was an opportunity to show others the power of Jesus Christ in his own life. 

If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. 

2 Corinthians 11:30-31 (NLT)

So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

Unlike the Apostle Paul, who remained focused on the only voice that mattered, His Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I lost control of my situation. I learned a painful lesson through those negotiations, distracted by the many voices clamoring for my attention, potentially jeopardizing the negotiation. How desperately I need the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ in my life to help me to remain focused on what is most important in every situation I encounter.

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

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