October 3, 2023

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand” (Philippians 4:4-5, RSV).


The hospital notified me today that one of the residents I supervise had more than 600 “view alerts” on her computer that had not been addressed. Alerts contain critical labs, radiology results or notes from other physicians who need a response.

I called her and told her, “You have over 600 view alerts to which you have not responded. This is poor quality patient care. You need to review and manage them today.” Conversation over. When I called her later, I could tell she had been crying. I spent time ensuring her that she is a good doctor—a good doctor who has system management skills that need to be developed, and I was there to help her develop them.


Forbearance is an interesting word that I’ve never quite understood until now. It’s the opposite of my behavior with this resident. It’s the opposite of abruptness.


For those of us who are usually kind and loving people, abruptness may still be a problem. It’s one that hurts.


I never curse, nor yell, nor shake my finger in anger if someone frustrates me, but I can be abrupt. I can respond to a situation without thinking and without kindness, abrupt and uncaring in the moment. I’ve done it enough that I know such a response hurts people. I’ve done it with my wife, with my children, with nurse colleagues and with patients who frustrate me with a persistent refusal to accept my expert plans for them.


When we read Paul’s letters in the New Testament, we discover he is often critical but never abrupt. He always introduces his criticism with love for those he is about to criticize. Then he moves on to the problem. “If I know you love me, you can tell me anything.”


I need to do the same, so those with whom I am frustrated will know Jesus is kind.


I need to do the same, to demonstrate I trust God within the situation.


I need to be the same, to become more like Jesus.


Forbearance is good for our relationships, good for our witness and good for our souls.

Next time, I’ll count to three and lead with kindness.


Dear God,

Give me self-control when I am frustrated. Let me always lead with love.


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