Dumbest. Patient. Ever. And what we can learn from him.

He had high blood pressure, diabetes and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. He didn't want to take additional medications, did not want to change his diet and definitely did not want to stop smoking, yet there he was in my office, presenting for medical care. He had no interest in changing any behaviors but said he wanted to be healthy! What could I do? What could I say?


I did my best to reason with him. I explained the effects of high blood pressure, diabetes and smoking on the body. He wasn't interested. I changed my approach, bargaining with him at each visit trying to get him to do a little more to improve his health. I focused on his blood pressure first as this was where he seemed to be least resistant. As this came under better control I turned my attention again to his diabetes, only to run into a brick wall of resistance. He had no desire to change. He was going to eat what he wanted when he wanted.
Frustrated, I resigned myself to a long process. He failed to follow up for his scheduled appointments, only coming in when I refused to refill his blood pressure medications. Each time he did come in I addressed his diabetes and his smoking. Between visits the office sent reminders and made phone calls, encouraging him to address his health. After several months of this he decided enough was enough. He had his wife call the office and leave me a stern message, "Bill says that if you talk to him anymore about his smoking and eating he will find another doctor!"

I was taken aback at his words. It was as if he was saying, "You can be my doctor as long as you don't act like a doctor!" It was the most absurd message I had ever received. My reply was simple, "He will need to find another doctor."

It is easy to say that Bill was strange, that refusing to listen to someone with medical knowledge, wisdom and expertise, someone who had his best interests at heart, is something we would never do. It is easy to think that we are better and smarter. It is easy, but I think it is wrong. We are all like Bill at times, we just aren't as obvious!

Don't think so? Physically, relationally and spiritually we all have a tendency to trust ourselves more than concerned others who have our best interests at heart. Think about it-

Physically- We struggle with obesity, watch too much TV, don't exercise enough, drink too much, and engage in so many other self-destructive behaviors. We know it is bad, but we do it. Why?
Relationally- We are selfish, don't spend enough time with our family, watch too much TV, and hold onto grudges and anger, even when we know better. Why?
Spiritually- is perhaps where we are most like Bill. We want to make our own rules, pick and choose which sins to hang on to and which ones to put aside. We don't want God to tell us what to do and we even want to decide for ourselves what God is like! We ignore the truth that God knows best and that the only wise response is to simply do what He tells us. Why? Because we are broken people who need to change!

We are all like Bill, but we can choose to be different. Let's start the same way I started with Bill. Let's pick one area where we know we need to do better, and let's do better. Start with something easy if we need to, but start. Most importantly, let's make a promise to ourselves to never stop!