Accepting Limits In Your Career

If you’re in healthcare, you know how quickly it can become all-consuming.  Like anything worthwhile, there’s always more to do or accomplish.

During our time on project here at SMI (Summer Medical Institute), many physicians testified to the fact that, at some point, their faith in Christ meant accepting certain professional limitations:

  • a pediatrician who wanted to raise a family decided to work part-time
  • an ophthalmologist in academic medicine writes  about a third as many papers as he could to invest in his family
  • an emergency physician doing well both clinically and academically decided to pull back from academics to find more balance
  • a physician with real surgical potential decided to pursue neonatology, and work less hours, for similar reasons
  • another pediatrician, and her non-medical husband, both worked only part-time for many years so they could devote adequate time to their family

On the surface, this might seem limiting.  And, truth be told, there were real costs.  But each one of these physicians shared with real joy how accepting boundaries in their careers freed them up to care for people and invest deeply in relationships.  None of them regretted the choices they have made.

Where do you find the resolve to make these choices, though, when climbing the career ladder is so tempting?

In another session, we also talked about how Christ’s work on the cross allows us to rest from pursuing our callings in unhealthy ways.  A lot of our overworking is driven by a desire to “prove ourselves”.  We think that writing another paper, studying another hour, and so on, can give us value.  (We wouldn’t write that on a theology exam, of course, but we often find ourselves living this way).  But when we realize that Christ’s work did everything necessary to make us accepted with God, we don’t need to use our work as a means of finding value with God or others.  We can work hard, but not obsessively, because God has already accepted us in Christ.


About Bryan Stoudt

On my personal website (, I help Christians follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world. I also have the privilege of helping Philadelphia's healthcare students and professionals do this as Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). More information at On a personal note, I'm fortunate to be married to my wonderful wife, Sharon. Together, we have four fantastic children. In my spare time, I enjoy roasting coffee, running, reading and learning foreign languages.
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