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Time for a Checkup!

By Steve Cartin, MDiv | December 19, 2017

by Steve Cartin, MDiv

Time for an end-of-year checkup. Business will perk up just after the New Year. By March, the restorative work found from increased January and February hygiene appointments will begin to fill the schedule with the promise of a better year. But from my experience, November and December are the months when practice owners want to talk to a consultant like myself. It’s a time when perhaps they are close enough to the end of the year to see that the numbers aren’t adding up like they had hoped.

Recently, my pastor gave me a book by Leonard Ravenhill, a British pastor and evangelist from the mid-20th century. Something he said caught my attention as being helpful for those of us who own businesses, whether those are consulting businesses or dental practices. Ravenhill says, “Friend, if you were as good at soul-cultivation as you are in developing your business, you would be a menace to the devil; but if you were as poor in business matters as you are in soul, you would be begging for bread.”

Ouch! Maybe we need to break this apart.

If we were as good at soul-cultivation as we are in developing our business, we would be a menace to the devil. While this does not apply to all Christian business owners, it does cause us to stop and think. Dentists spend time researching new services, products and techniques that can make a real difference in their practices. We are not happy to do business next year in the same way we did in the one gone by. None of us question the need for this kind of determined professional pursuit. But the question for today’s checkup is this: Could it be said that we will be happy with the same level of spiritual pursuit in the coming year as we were in the year gone by? Or do we yearn for something fundamentally different to help us move to higher ground? As we make our end-of-year business analysis, are we prepared to prayerfully seek pathways to a growing (not just maintaining) spiritual life in 2018? 

I was fortunate not to work the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day any of the 14 years I served in the Air Force. When I left the Air Force for vocational Christian ministry in 1992, I purposely carved out the same week each year. It is still my habit today. I review what books I’ve read and what type: biographies, commentaries, books on the spiritual living in general, etc. I review what books of the Bible I preached, taught or studied from and which ones I didn’t. And in the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, I plan a reading and study schedule for the coming year. While I’m not yet a menace to the devil, it’s an attempt to keep my sword sharp. Many plans are different and better than mine. How about yours? As you are planning to make some changes to improve your business this coming year, how are you reviewing and making plans to gain spiritual ground?

If we were as poor in business matters as we are in soul, we would be begging for bread. Business can be a lot like the spiritual life. Business can trend slowly downward in such a way that bad times sneak up and take us by the throat almost unannounced. We don’t look at the numbers. Or we don’t question them. Or we assume that having the same hygiene schedule this year as we did last year is a good thing. Never mind that we netted 200 new patients this past year and now need 320 to 350 additional hygiene appointments so that 160 to 175 patients don’t fall through the cracks. 

It can happen like this in the spiritual life as well. We don’t keep our personal devotion time. We allow purposeful prayer to be more miss than hit. We do not realize that increased continuing education has taken a toll on responsible church membership. Blessings, opportunities and spiritual rewards fall through the cracks like patients in a crumbling hygiene schedule. 

For you and for me, my prayer is that this “final” time of the year will afford us the opportunity to look at our numbers and formulate some professional initiatives for the New Year. We need this in order to be good stewards of the businesses God has given to our charge. But I pray we will also make time to review our walk with the Lord and where we are headed in the coming year. We may need some new initiatives in the spiritual life as well. 

Consider this edition of our blog to be a spiritual recall card to remind you it’s time for a checkup.

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