LET IT BE ABOUT SOMEBODY ELSE!
Dr. Carson is known for making medical history in 1987 with the first successful separation of craniopagus twins, among many other magnificent achievements. He is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland, in the USA. In 1984, he was named Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a position he still holds today.
Dr. Carson has
authored more than 100 neurosurgical publications, and has been awarded more
than 60 honorary doctorate degrees and dozens of national merit citations,
including the Presidential Medal of
Freedom from President George Bush in 2008.
Dr. Carson has
written five best-selling books, including Gifted
Hands, after which a film of his life has been
named. Larry Evans was privileged to speak with him about his views on success and service to others.
She felt that you could always influence what was happening in your life, and that you didn’t have to be a victim."
LRE: In your book, Gifted Hands, you
described some pretty difficult years you had as you were growing up. Yet, it
seems these tough times developed a sense of resiliency instead of an attitude
of giving up. Why?
BSC: Well, I call it
fire in the belly. As I read about people’s accomplishments, it became very
clear to me that you actually get to make a choice as to what your lifestyle
is. And it’s based on the amount of time and energy you’re willing to put into
the pursuit of your goal. Once I knew that, it was going to be pretty hard to
stop me because I had the drive. I recognized that I was actually in more
control of my future than anybody else. I also saw in my mother an example of
someone willing to work hard. She felt
that you could always influence what was happening in your life, and that you
didn’t have to be a victim. Seeing that in her over a long period of time had a
profound influence on both my brother and me.
LRE: You have acknowledged being very angry at a
stage in your life. How would you encourage youth today who are angry about
BSC: I would tell them
this: “Let it be about somebody else.” I realized that my anger came because I
always thought it was about me—something done to me or taken from me. God gave me wisdom to see through that and
when I did, I no longer allowed myself to be a puppet with many masters. It was no longer about me.
LRE: You have received national and international
recognition. Is there a danger in being
so well known?
BSC: There can be. It’s easy to begin to believe that you’re
quite great. In my case, however, I’ve
had so many incredible outcomes where I know that it just couldn’t have been
me. It’s something I can’t do. But I
know Who can! Allowing yourself to be used by God opens up an enormous number
of opportunities for you as well as for those being influenced by you. For
people of achievement there’s the natural tendency toward self-aggrandizement.
Once you go down that path, then your usefulness to others is diminished.
LRE: Are you saying that the amount of service
can be limited by these personal detours?
BSC: Exactly. And if we
get in the way, we can block the channel from which blessings flow into our own
lives and from us into the lives of others. Have there been times when I’ve
struggled with it myself? Absolutely. And then I have to check myself. And I
check myself on a daily basis and say, “Wait a minute. Is this about you, or is
it about God?” And a lot of times that changes my course.
LRE: Many scientists, struggle with the notion of
faith and God. As a Christian
physician-scientist, how do you relate faith and science?
BSC: I want people to
recognize that there are a lot of different ways to interpret data. The blatant
statement that anyone who believes that God created us cannot be scientific
really has no basis in fact. How do you look at the ability of the species to
change within itself? Some say this is clear-cut evidence of evolution, and I
would say it’s clear-cut evidence of a Creator who gave His creatures the
ability to adapt to the environment. Otherwise He'd have to to start over every
few weeks! It's not a problem, it's a sign of intelligence. Therefore, it depends on where you want to
place your faith. I choose to place my
faith in God as Creator. Some choose to
place their faith in science, when sometimes that science has only progressed
as far as the level of speculation and
LRE: So many of your accomplishments have come
from rather unique perspectives about life and service. How would you describe
BSC: I would describe it as taking the talents that God has given you,
developing them, multiplying them, and using them to uplift others.
LRE: Many seem to have talents but circumstances
of life seem to hinder their development and therefore their influence.
BSC: Absolutely. And one
of the things that had a profound effect on me as a youngster was the story of
Joseph in the Bible. Here was a young man, who had a fairly big ego,
admittedly, but he ended up being sold into slavery by his own brothers. And he
didn’t allow that to make him bitter or to become a victim. He just said, “If
I’m going to be a slave, I’ll be the best slave there is!” And he ends up as
the overseer of Potiphar’s household, captain of the Egyptian guard, a very
responsible position. And then Potiphar’s wife says, “Wow, this is a
good-looking guy. I’m going to deal with him!” But he has values. And because
of his values and principles, he ends up in jail. He doesn’t say, “Wait a
minute. Here I am doing all the right stuff, and I end up in jail. Poor me. I’m
a victim. This is not fair.” No, he says, “If I’m going to be a prisoner, I’ll
be the best prisoner there is.” And he ends up with a responsible position in
the prison, interprets dreams, and ends up as the governor of the most powerful
nation in the world. What an amazing story! What that said to me is this: “It really doesn’t matter where you are or
what your circumstances are, you need to make the best of that situation. And
eventually you will benefit from that situation.” You know, as the Bible says,
“All things work together for the good for those who love God and are called
for His purposes.” I believe that.
LRE: Where does God fit into your idea of service
for others? Christians aren’t the only ones who have talents. Atheists also have talents and do good. What makes your service different from
BSC: Well, I’m not sure
that in all cases the outcome is necessarily different. However, I will say
that there have been numerous very difficult or virtually impossible situations
when I have called upon God and He has responded in a way that would perhaps be
difficult for an atheist to understand.
I remember the case of a young girl who essentially died on the
operating room table. Her brain herniated out, and she was fixed and dilated.
Three days later the PICU staff (pediatric intensive care unit) said, “We need
to turn off the ventilator. We need this bed.” And I said, “Give it one more
day.” And I just prayed. I said, “Lord, You’ve got to understand. This is a child of an atheist woman and this
child is the only thing in her life. If
you could just somehow bring this child back, it could have a profound effect.”
The next morning, when we went to turn off the respirator, she moved her little
finger. And that was the beginning of her recovery. She eventually walked out
of the hospital. I saw that mother years later. She said, “Do you remember me?”
I said, “Yeah.” She said, “Remember I was an atheist?” "I remember,"
I said. She continued, “I’m no longer an atheist. I’m a Christian, and I’m a
member of the Seventh-day Adventist church.”
LRE: If you were to be remembered for one thing
for your life, what would it be?
BSC: I would hope that
it would be that I was someone who got people to understand that the person who
has most to do with what happens to them is them. They get to make choices.
They don’t have to be victims. Don’t blame others. As my mother used to always
say, “You have yourself to blame.” She always quoted that poem when we came up
with an excuse.
LRE: How do you see stewardship impacting the
life of a Christian?
BSC: Well, I think it
boils down to commitment. What are you committed to? And I would like to think
that I’m committed to God. That is the primary thing in my life. As it says in
Matthew 6:33, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all
these things shall be added unto you.” And I’ve found that exactly to be the
case. You don’t have to look for this prize, or this position, or whatever. All
you have to do is make sure that your relationship with God is correct.
Recognize that He loves you. I mean, look at what He was willing to do for us!
So, needless to say, any good thing that He can do in your life, if you’re
committed to Him, He’s going to do it.
LRE: From what I can tell your influence and
ministry are not confined to the surgical suite.
BSC: Definitely not!