Hearts, Not Hands

The other day I was making a congratulatory video for a great young man about to graduate from medical school.  This soon-to-be doctor is going to be amazing.  He is one of the best young people ever.  I have known him for a long time as I was his principal when he was in middle school.  

Time and life pass too quickly.  I cannot believe he is now almost a doctor.  

One of the special joys and delights of being an educator is seeing the great people your students grow up to be.  I knew this child was going to be very successful.  Even when he was ten-years-old, he was something special.  

As I recorded the short video message, I shared what I hope is the most important advice he receives as he heads off to a successful practice. 

I told him that great doctors don’t work with their hands, they work with their hearts.

(Note:  I believe I created this quote – I have searched the internet for words to this effect and can’t find them anywhere.  As such, I’ll claim this quote as my own.)

I think (and hope) this is great advice.  

We work best, in our professions, and as human beings, when we work through our hearts.

With practice, many talented people can learn the skills to be a doctor or a surgeon.  What doctors do is amazing.  Especially in these times, we see how they can help people who are desperate and in great need.  And all of that is great.  We owe so much to our doctors.  Their skills are vital and so important…

But, it is the truly exceptional doctor that doesn’t just have great knowledge and physical skills.  The truly great doctors also have people skills.  Just as important as knowing and performing the necessary skills to help someone get better physically is helping a person get better emotionally.  

The great doctors are the ones who make a connection with people’s hearts. 

It’s the heart that’s key.

I think we have all visited doctors in our lives who have made us feel better about ourselves, sometimes even when delivering bad news, because of the way they talk with us, counsel us, and care for us.  Doctors that share their compassion with us help us in ways more profound than we might ever know or realize.

Of course, this isn’t just true of doctors.  It’s true of almost any profession.  In my over thirty years as an educator, I have seen some of the most wonderful teachers this world has ever had.  That’s not hyperbole either.  I am the principal of a school replete with outstanding teachers.  The thing they do better than most is teach from their hearts.  They make positive, meaningful, and sincere connections with kids and their families.  These teachers care.  Deeply.  And passionately.  I believe this has made all the difference always, but especially these last few months during this “home schooling” period.  Each day these teachers are making connections across the miles with their students.  The kids know they care.  And that caring, that commitment, makes all the difference.

Great teachers don’t work from a curriculum, or a computer, or from a classroom, they work from the heart.

I believe the same is true of principals…

And the same is true, as I stated above, for so many professions.  My accountant is outstanding.  He knows numbers and tax law and so much.  He is extremely skilled.  But above all, he “accounts” from his heart.  I enjoy seeing him each year during tax season, not because I hope for a refund, but because I enjoy spending time with him.  I know he cares about me and my family.  It takes a special man to make tax season fun. 

Great accountants don’t work from a spreadsheet, they work from the heart.

I have a dear friend who is a pediatrician.  He is extremely skilled.  Families love him, trust him, and swear by him.  There is no one better.  He knows his stuff.  He’s great at what he does.  And all of that is important.  But more important than all of that is the fact that he “doctors” from his heart.  There isn’t a pediatrician who loves his patients more than this man.  

I can think of my eye doctor, my chiropractor, my physical therapists, my orthopedist, and my dentist (among others)… all super special people.  They are all extremely skilled in their crafts.  But they do more than just help make sure I am physically okay.  I know that they genuinely care about me.  They are good people.  They “doctor” from their hearts.  There is a reason I go to see them.  And that is why.  There are plenty of talented specialists out there, but few, if any, also do what they do not just with their hands, but with their hearts.

The best ministers I have heard don’t just share scripture and the word of God, they share their love.  The best pastors don’t minster from a pulpit, they minister from their hearts.  

When I think of each of these people, I smile.  There’s a reason for this.  It’s very simple.  Each time I see them, they also smile.  They smile from their hearts.  Their smiles are part of the way they let me know that they care about me.  

And that’s what makes the difference. 

It’s not about the skills we have, it’s what we do with those skills to make life better for others.  It’s about what we do to build others up.  

That’s what life is about – what we do for others.

We should always work, no matter what are skills are, first, foremost, and primarily from our hearts.


And always.





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