Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48.
Bob sat across from me at our monthly McDonald’s breakfast time together. We saw each other almost daily, rushing past each other in the hospital, but this was our scheduled time to be friends. He was struggling with an issue in his life.
“I was raised to do everything well. That got me through medical school and it has worked well to build my practice. But I’m dropping all kind of balls lately. I have a patient I was working up for back pain. Before I could get the tests done, he was paralyzed from a cord compression, a cancer in his spine. I have another patient with a mammogram that was positive; the report was lost and I didn’t see it for three months. She was not at all happy. I missed my daughter’s gymnastic competition because an emergency came in. I feel like I’m failing everywhere.” I answered him the best way I knew how, “So, you want to be perfect, like me?”
As doctors we are hardwired to be achievers. God placed within us the character to do our best, to get things right---for His glory and for mankind’s benefit. As doctors, mothers, fathers, spouses, church members, we are called by God to excellence; and we expect that from ourselves. But sometimes we carry that expectation too far. Sometimes we expect perfection from our efforts and make perfect performance into an idol. If we choose do so, at some point that idol will topple over on us and cause us great pain, for we will never be perfect in this life.
There is a clear distinction between excellence and perfection. Excellence is measured by great effort. Perfection is measured by results. God cares about our effort but He does not expect perfect results. When Jesus calls us to be perfect in Matthew 5:48, He is not asking for perfect results; He is calling us toward wholehearted devotion to our Father in heaven. He wants us to do all things well for His glory (Col 3:23), to pour ourselves out in sacrificial service. He wants us to serve Him with our very best, but He expects for us to leave the results to Him (Phil 1:6).
We are called by God to strive for excellence by remaining well read and well skilled, by disciplining ourselves to do our best with each patient and with our families. God smiles on us when we pour ourselves out to serve Him with our best in all areas of our lives. But as we do, we must continually hand the results of these efforts back to Him. Only He knows how to use them well to write His story of redemption.
Help me to do my best with all You have entrusted me. Then let me hand over my best to You, so that you may accomplish that which You choose. Amen.