What Pastors Can
Learn From Dentists
Professional sharing and collegial study
make a major difference.
Our family has a pretty good dentist. We need him to be pretty good. My wife has terrific teeth, but he menfolk of the family – the three boys and
I – well, not so much.
I know dentists, believe me. I have, in fact, an extensive
(= horrible) dental history.
I sucked my thumb as a kid and exacerbated an in-
herited overbite. When I was eight years old, a quack
of an orthodontist took a small fortune of my parents’
When I was nine, a friend and I were
fooling around with his dad’s golf clubs
and a big plastic ball in the backyard.
My buddy hauled out the big wooden
driver and I failed to stand back far
enough and – wham! It smacked me
right in the mouth. Three hours in the
chair resulted as our faithful dentist
pulled my battered teeth back into line.
Another orthodontist started work
on me in my teens, but then we moved before he could
get anywhere. Finally, in my 20s, I told my parents I would
choose the orthodontist and they would jolly well pay for
it. They ruefully agreed, God bless ’em, and after two extractions and a long period of slowly wrenching my remaining teeth into place, I ended up with a passable smile.
All three of our boys needed braces. But two were also
born with a missing tooth – and the same tooth missing
from the baby set failed to develop in the mature set. So
at age 19, after braces throughout their younger years,
they got to undergo implant surgery and months more
But back to me: fillings, crowns, wisdom teeth extrac-
tions, abscesses requiring emergency surgery, veneers (for
those nasty grooves), and even an implant of my own – I’m
well on the way to my own doctoral degree in dentistry,
given all the time I’ve spent on my back staring up at clinic
ceilings while trying not to drown in my own juices. I have
come to appreciate dentists.
Where is the study?
Where is the humble
request for help, the
pooling of expertise,
the bearing of each
other’s burdens, the
keep honing one’s
JOHN STACKHOuSE teaches theology and culture at
Regent College, vancouver. His weblog can be found at
www.johnstackhouse.com and he tweets as @jgsphd.