Death and Life are in the power of your words.  What we say matters.

I was in the oral final of the Anatomy Scholarship Exam at medical school.  Any student was allowed to go in for the exam, but I knew I was not particularly gifted in the study of anatomy.  But my grandfather, almost 75 years before, had entered for this exam and won.  It would be interesting to see how I compared.

The written part of the exam was over.  Now came the part where I sat down with our Professor of Anatomy, who was actually the then current Editor of the famous Gray’s Anatomy textbook, used by medical students all over the world. He could ask me any questions that he wanted.  It only took two questions to uncover my ignorance.  Then he said the words that I can still remember to this day, roughly 50 years later.  “Dale, you are just here for the beer!”  Whether he meant the exam or being at this prestigious medical school, I am not sure.  But the underlying meaning was clear.  I was never going to win any anatomy scholarship.  

As trivial as that conversation was, it illustrates a point.  In that moment, it was clear I was never going to be a surgeon.  You don’t want someone operating on you who does not know their anatomy.  I was probably never going to be an academic type doctor.  Maybe I wouldn’t even get through the very tough exams that were coming a few months later to see if I would be allowed to progress to the clinical part of the medical training.  This was a wake-up call, a reality check.

That professor’s words brought life, because I took them to heart.  They actually clarified for me that I was not that interested in the academic side of medicine – scholarship exams being a part of that – but I was interested in people.  This is part of what moved me towards family practice.  Here I found a place to practice medicine in a way that really brought life to me.

Interestingly enough, the same words spoken to me by the professor could have brought death.  I could have doubted my ability to become a doctor.  I could have given up on the dreams of the previous 20 years.  After all, all I had ever really wanted to do was to be a doctor, just like my Dad.  I loved those late-night rides with him to an urgent house call, and the incredible way that he was able to take care of all of the different challenges that patients presented.

Similarly, the entrepreneurial journey of the past 25 years has had its own challenges and opportunities.  I didn’t realize when I first challenged my own medical bills that such a simple first step would lead to a company that would become a leader in medical cost containment.  Neither did I realize when I took the plunge to start another company to take the message and the methodology of the Christian healthcare sharing ministries into the wider business market that it would a few years later find itself on the Inc. 5000 list.  The Bible teaches us that God is able to do “exceedingly abundantly beyond all that you dare ask or imagine.”

Dare to ask big, to imagine expansively, and see what God can do with those little words that you use inside your head!