Author Topic: Careers: secular or something more?  (Read 1742 times)

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Offline FHL

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Careers: secular or something more?
« on: November 09, 2006, 06:35:37 AM »
Hey guys, I'm new to this board. I do have a concern that I would like to get some advice on. I am very unsure of my career path (I'm a 2nd year college student). I (like many other Copts) have chosen to persue medicine, mostly out of my parent's wishes.

Okay, I need to tell you a bit about myself first. As far as my spending habits, one virtue people have told me I have is contentness. I am not very sure if this is true though. I do not desire expensive cars or fancy houses, but I do spend alot of money on things for myself that people usually don't see. Such as books, movies, electronics, etc. I also like to spend money on improving my car, becuase I like classic autos (my car's not expensive or fancy at all, but it's old and breaking down). I like to travel too, so much money gets spent on gas and plane tickets. So far I have not had to worry much about money; I've held part-time jobs for quiet some time, but I get much help from my parents, who are somewhat wealthy. So to sum it all up, I do enjoy an above-average comfort, at least money wise.

I realize that graduating medical school will bring me the economic secuirity I need, and even though I don't really enjoy it, the idea of having a large bank account keeps me from changing my path. My problem is this: plainly put, I cannot say I'm a good man. I fear what my case would be in front of the Lord if I dropped dead today. I am working on changing my ways, but I only came back to Christianity after a few years where I stopped believing. My past is littered with alcohol and drug abuse, sexual immorality, and more. Some of this I have not repented from 100% yet, some of this is both my past and present. It is not as easy as I thought it would be. I am wondering if I am choosing medicine for the wrong reasons, and if it will just be another worldy pursuit for me that will hinder my attempt to rid myself of these failings. My parents say otherwise, claiming that I can stop my sins if I just concentrate on studying and bettering myself, but I don't know if I'm studying and "bettering" myself for more sinful reasons or not. Am I pursuing this career just for my own pride? The idea of becoming a doctor with alot of money and free time, although tempting, is begging the question in my head: what will I do with this money and free time? My parents always tell me that money is not evil if someone uses it correctly. I know this is true, but part that is disturbing me is the "if someone uses it correctly" part. Judging from my past history, I don't think I will. I do know that I find it impossible to pray before exams. My priest always tells me to pray before exams so I may do well, but what if God doesn't wish me to do well? I feel like praying before an exam is the equivilant of a homeless person praying for a house, but with the intentions of selling drugs out of the house.

The problem I'm struggling with is that everyone keeps telling me that my way of thinking on this subject is strange, and that medicine is the best path and I will regret it later if I change it now. Am I the only one who thinks this? Or am I really just being wierd?
"Let us love one another first, then in an atmosphere of love we can discuss theological matters." - H.H. Pope Shenouda III

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Careers: secular or something more?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2006, 07:58:52 AM »
I don't understand why medicine would be a problem as opposed to another career. In other words, you can just as easily be a secularist janitor or nightwatchman. Conversely, all work can be sanctified and become a means of working out our salvaion. I know that in the Coptic Church, you have the example of St. Samaan the Tanner who, despite his humble work as a shoemaker, had enough faith to move Mount Mokattam. We in the Eastern Orthodox Church also have many Saints who became Saints by cooking, tending animals, tending to household chores, etc(eg St. Euphrosynos, St. John the Russian). And there are also Saints who were Doctors (e.g Sts. Cosmas and Damien, St. Panteleimon). So it is not the type of work we do, but rather, how we do it.
Sanctifying your work means offering it to God and co-operating with God. When we have done everything we can, we still ask God to bless our efforts and supply what is missing, so praying before your exams, having studied as well as you could, is in fact a way of sanctifying your efforts- because if you do not pray, it is as though you have only worked at your studies for your own gain, and not to serve God. So pray throughout your studies, offering them to God, and ask God to bless them. The Orthodox life is an ordinary life lived in an extraordinary way.
Now, as regards to money, you could make it a rule to regularly give to the poor. And not simply to some anonymous charity, but cut out the middle man and give to an actual human being who is poor, and if they are pious, ask them to pray for your forgiveness. If you become a doctor, make sure you tend to the poor around you who are unable to pay you, so that like St. Panteleimon, you become an instrument of Christ for them through which He brings them healing, compassion and hope. And always remember, you are nothing but an instrument- like a scalpel in The Physician's Hand.
Now stop worrying about this, and get back to your books!
If you're living a happy life as a Christian, you're doing something wrong.

Offline FHL

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Re: Careers: secular or something more?
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2006, 08:40:25 AM »
I understand what you are saying, but what I'm worried about are my motivations. I am not interested by medicine, I do not care for it. Not that I don't want to help people, but medicine is not a passion of mine. I recently realized that I'm in it "just for the money". I live in America, and if you have a job here, you will make money. Even janitors don't live underneath bridges. I'm not saying that I want to be a janitor, but I'm saying that it's possible to make a living here with many different jobs. The reason I chose to pursue medicine was becuase that career choice usually leads to a very high income. I'd be filthy rich, in other words. That's the only reason I'm on this path right now, and when I think about it, I feel like I'm being extremely greedy. I feel like I don't have enough faith in God that I need to chose a career that is garunteed to provide my desires. Just like the pharisees that Jesus warned against when He saw them fasting with thier faces in agony so people would notice. Fasting is a good thing, just like success, but it was being done for the wrong reasons. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that maybe I need to be humbled or something, like Moses was when God sent him into the desert. Certainly there are Saints who were wealthy, but I don't think they became wealthy for the sake of being wealthy.

Another example is dating. The church view on dating is varied, but many view it as negative. The act of dating is not bad in itself (and I think it's beneficial at times) but they put a "control" on us so that we don't end up doing something sinful. If everyone had a high amount of self-control and faith, this wouldn't be an issue and dating would be perfectly fine, but not everyone does. The "control" is to protect those who are weak from falling. I'm wondering, judging from the fact that my faith is not at its highest, maybe I need a "control" so that I don't become overly prideful or greedy.
"Let us love one another first, then in an atmosphere of love we can discuss theological matters." - H.H. Pope Shenouda III

Offline Brian

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Re: Careers: secular or something more?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2006, 04:08:06 AM »

I don't know you, so can't say anything really about your particular situation.  However I can say this:  There is nothing so pitiful and dangerous as a doctor who dislikes medicine.  No other profession demands more - more training, more professionalism, more dedication, more attention, more motivation - than the profession of medicine in all its manifestations.  If we expect priests to be called, how much more important the call to medicine?  Seek a calling - it may take years to find.  Considerations such as money are important but ultimately secondary.  Also, don't be in such a hurry - you've got plenty of time to find where you should be - just never stop seeking until you've found it.

Hope this helps.

Sincerely in Christ,

Offline Tallitot

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Re: Careers: secular or something more?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2006, 07:48:54 AM »
I've been in healthcare all my adult life, since I graduated high school 28 years ago. I felt it was vocation, a way to serve God. I've worked with people who were in it just for financial security and they were inevitably miserable.
Life's to short to spend it doing something you don't care for.
Proverbs 22:7

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Careers: secular or something more?
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2006, 08:14:09 AM »
It would seem one could practise medicine AND pursue a ministry at the same time...if one aligns one's perspectives.
"Religion is a neurobiological illness and Orthodoxy is its cure." - Fr. John S. Romanides