Catching Character

Catching Character

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice..." (Philippians 4:9, NIV 2011).

A bright young female resident shadowed me in clinic today because she was planning to apply for our fellowship program. After we saw a couple of patients, I asked her, "What makes you interested in oncology?"

I assumed she would speak of some great healing experience of a family member, as many do. She surprised me with her answer.

"My first year as a resident, I was on call when a patient came into the emergency room who was dying from his cancer. Eric, one of your fellows, came to the ER and took care of him. He sat with the man and talked to him. Couldn't do anything to save him, but for two hours he stayed there and comforted him and answered his questions. And then the man died. As I watched Eric's compassion and the peace it brought to that patient's last hours, I wanted to be an oncologist."

Character is caught, not taught.

So much of who I am comes from watching the great men and women whom I have walked beside.

I became a doctor, not only because I loved the science, but because my dad used to take me with him on hospital rounds and drop me off at the nursing station as he visited his patients. I watched his joy at work and wanted that.

I caught God's call as a missionary because I spent time with Dr. John Tarpley and saw the dedication, energy and sacrifice that seemed to flow naturally from his love for Christ. I wanted to live a life like that.

I have a heart for the down trodden that comes from watching my mother treat all men as good, knowing their badness and refusing to hold it against them.

I am honest because I have watched those who give back when they are overpaid.

I persevere through difficult circumstances because of patients who have held their head up and carried on.

In the future, I will probably sit longer at the bedside of my next dying patient because of Eric's example.

We reach our highest potential as followers of Christ when we surround ourselves with men and women of great character and soak ourselves in the stories of people such as Mother Teresa, Eric Liddell, William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Our character grows in the direction of those we spend our time observing.

Mine certainly has. Whom do I need to thank for the good that is in me?

And the reverse is true. Whose character is growing better because they spend their time observing me?

Dear Father,
Thank you for those who have surrounded me and brought into my life much of the good that I am. Let me be aware of my responsibility to do the same for others.

Al Weir, MD

About Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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