Podcast #043: What makes a good doctor or nurse?

An on-going conversation with Dr John Geater MBE

If your mother, father, brother or sister was rushed into hospital what kind of doctor or nurse would you want them to see? The answer to that question has been a passion 0f Dr John Geater for many years. So much so in fact that it led him to, with others, set up the organisation PRIME - Partnerships in International Medical Education. In 2006 John received an MBE for his contribution.

Do join John and I as we discuss:

  • How the foundation of his relationship with God, his wife Jane and family makes everything else possible.
  • The importance of the values of integrity, compassion, altruism, excellence, continuous self-improvement and teamwork in underpinning all medical training.
  • The question John likes to ask his students of "Is it right to smile at a patient?" and the responses he gets.
  • Understanding the mind-body-spirit connection of human beings
  • Seeing God at the intersection of science and humanity.
  • How losing the humanity of our patients is so often a root of burnout and cynicism in the medical profession around the world.
  • Understanding the person of Jesus as healer.
  • How a lack of connection with others is one of the biggest predictors of mental health problems.
  • Unpacking the Hebrew concept of 'shalom' to understand complete flourishing in body, mind and spirit and relationships.
  • The legacy of PRIME to "inspire those who inspire others who go onto inspire others alongside developing their medical skills."

You may also find of interest:

An Incredibly Brief History of Medicine.

What Does It Actually Take To Be A More Caring Person?

What If You Could Read Other People's Minds?

Podcast #042: What Does It Take To Live A Meaningful Life?

The Royal College of Physicians Report Doctors in Society: Medical Professionalism In A Changing World that emphasises the importance of professional values to all medical training.

To find out more about PRIME click here.

Podcast #042: What does it take to live a meaningful life?

A conversation with Dr John Geater MBE

Dr John Geater is at the time of writing aged 73. He is married to Jane and has three adult children. He is a medical doctor and has worked in Bhutan, New Zealand and in England. In 2006 he received an MBE from the Queen for his work in setting up the postgraduate medical education charity, PRIME (Partnerships in International Medical Education). He has taught holistic medical education in 26 different countries around  the world. Just before Christmas 2017 he was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Do join us in this  fascinating podcast conversation as we discuss John's life and explore questions such as:

How do you respond when bad things happen to you?

How do you make sense of being diagnosed with cancer three times in your life?

How to embrace life's mysteries when things don't go the way you want or expect.

We also ask John:

What was it like running a leprosy hospital in Bhutan at the age of 25?

What would you say to someone who has a terminal illness and is scared?

To explore with us from Bronnie Ware's book the five regrets of the dying:
I wish I lived a life true to myself and not what was expected of me.
I wish I had not worked so hard.
I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish I had let myself be happier.

What he is looking forward to in the life to come?

You may also find of interest:

Podcast #017: The Last Taboo Subject?

Podcast #028: The God I Don't Understand

Podcast #029: The Literal End Of The World?

Podcast #032: How To Know Joy When Life Feels Tough

Podcast #033: Practical Ways To Find Joy Through Disappointment

How Would You Define Success Part 3

Podcast #041: How can faith and prayer enhance mental health?

I was recently pleasantly surprised to be invited by a prestigious financial institution to speak on the subject of how prayer and faith can enhance mental health. It was a wonderful privilege.

On this podcast I unpack the main elements of my talk along with exploring how money is such a helpful analogy in pointing to understanding spiritual treasure.

In particular we explore:

How faith and prayer enhance mental health as I am able to delight in God for who He is rather than what I can get out of Him.

The key to this is understanding and experiencing grace in my life.

How faith rather than being a vague and nebulous concept is actually incredibly specific. Indeed our entire global financial system is based on faith.

Why faith can only enhance mental health if it is based on something specific and reliable.

How the highest form of prayer is delight.

The problems with defining mental health.

How the Hebrew word 'shalom' conveys the highest form of mental health as complete wellbeing or multi-dimensional thriving and fulfilment.

For more on this also see:

How can faith and prayer enhance mental health?

Podcast #033: Practical ways to find joy through disappointment.

Podcast#032: How to know joy when life feels tough.

Podcast #013: How to grow in resilience.

Podcast #011 Money.

Why does a loving God allow pain and suffering?

Podcast #007 Religion

Podcast #018: Spiritual Maturity.

Podcast #040: Celebration!

How far have we come! We have reached 40 episodes on this journey at the  Making Sense of Life Podcast! Its time to celebrate and give thanks.

On this special episode I especially want to thank:

  • You the listener for entrusting me with your time and attention. In a world of such overwhelming choice and distraction I trust these episodes have truly helped you to make sense of life in an increasingly challenging and complex world.
  • My co-host Andrew Horton for his work both back stage and front stage. This has been behind the scenes with the technical aspects of the podcast and then publically in interviewing me with insightful questions as we have discussed such a wide range of topics.
  • Jeff Brown of the Read To Lead Podcast who inspired and taught me back in 2014 how to make podcasting not just a nice idea, but an actual reality.

In a world that focuses so much on the externals , the Making Sense of Life Podcast is a reminder that a meaningful life is actually an inside-out adventure. Inward change precedes outer transformation. Being bigger on the inside rather than the outside is the path to true success and impact. If we get that reversed and are actually greater on the outside than we are on the inside then disappointment, frustration and failure will not be far away.

One important aspect of focussing on the inside before the outside is being real and authentic about our internal struggles and challenges.

Our journey started back in 2012 with this blog, particularly around the subject of depression and negative thinking that appears to be reaching epidemic proportions around the world. For more on this see:

A 15 minute video called Just As I Am that gives my personal journey through depression and negative thinking.

Podcast #004 Combatting Depression where I interview the author Jo Swinney who has written about her own personal journey in her book 'Through The Dark Woods'.

Podcast #003 Stress where Andrew and I discuss the challenges of stress and how to not just survive, but actually thrive. (Also see the video How To Make Stress Your Friend).

Podcast #027: Beating Burnout where we look at not just the cost to ourselves of burnout, but how we can set up safeguards and protective measures in our lives.

Over time we have shifted our emphasis in looking not just at the negative, but understanding how to positively flourish in the world through resilience (Podcast #013) and develop grit (passion and perseverance for long term goals at Podcast #021). How do we do that with all the other challenges in our lives so we can live in some form of balance? (Podcast #034).

At the same time I have become convinced that it is not possible to authentically make sense of life without reference the Infinite Creator God of the Universe. As we have advanced in our understanding and grasp of the world what has become increasingly evident is that in spite of all our achievements and technology, the amount we know and understand is not getting any less. Indeed with an infinite reference point it is inevitable that no matter how much we know we have to come to realise the less we actually know!

On Podcast #007 we discussed how religion has significant limitations when it comes to grasping the world in all its complexity. What our hearts long for is relationship. In Podcast #018 we looked at spiritual maturity as being about getting to know God through silence. solitude and the Biblical scripture.

Another wonderful privilege of the podcast has been the opportunity to interview book authors and those who have lived inspiring lives. A small selection of those interviews include:

  • A grandson of Steven R. Covey, author of the classic bestseller The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and The 8th Habit. It was reading a quote from p.308 of that book in 1995 in Delhi, India that had a profound impact of my life. Little did I realise it would become a recurring theme of my life:

"The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mould men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behaviour, but Christ can change human nature." (Podcast #010)

  • Baroness Caroline Cox who is now over 80 and doing remarkable humanitarian work in some of the most dangerous places of the world. Her courage, determination and resilience are truly extraordinary and a great inspiration as to what can be possible in our lives. She also candidly shared with us about her personal struggle with depressive thinking and what she calls 'faithless fearful dread.' She is able to say:

"During my work with the persecuted church I have met many people who are suffering for their faith and I always return from my travels humbled and inspired by their courage, faith, dignity and miracles of grace. Many stories of those living on the front lines of faith illustrate spiritual blessings such as joy, peace and love in ways which are far from depressing." (Podcast #019 and Podcast #020)

  • Rahil Patel whose life story as a Hindu priest to spiritual awakening shows how truth is stranger than fiction. And what does that have to do with Harry Potter? You will have to listen to Podcast #016!

Finally we have also been fortunate to interview some leading authorities on deeply important topics that affect us all:

Professor John Wyatt on what does it mean to live and die well at Podcast #017. The reality and brutality of death was brought home to  me with the sudden loss of a good friend of mine on 17 March 2016. (For more on that see here).  An understanding of how life is finite should not leave us with a morbid sense of fear, but a deep privilege of how all we have is a gift. How can I live in a way that honours my creator?

Chris Wright and discussing the mysteries of when God doesn't make sense in our lives (Podcast #028) as well as what the Bible has to say about what will happen at the end of the world (Podcast #029).

All this is only a taster of the journey we have been on with the podcasts since May 2015. I trust this recap and celebration will inspire you to go back and listen to some you may have missed or re-listen to another one again. Such is the power of technology and your future self may well thank you for investing in yourself in this way!

Podcast #039: Overcoming Failure

"Everyone has their own Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb." (Seth Godin)

Failure. How do you handle it? The 2 minute video below by Will Smith is an encouragement to view failure in a positive way. As he says - fail early, fail often and fail forward.

In this podcast my co-host Andrew Horton and I discuss how failure is not something to be feared, but actually an opportunity to grow and learn.

Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball play of all time has said:

"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times I've been entrusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Do join us on this podcast as we discuss:

How everyone has their own story of failure along with our own personal examples.

What is the relationship between failure and guilt or shame? Is failure necessarily a bad thing?

What can we learn from some famous examples of failure such as Abraham Lincoln and J K Rowling?

Why it is not as simple as just saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

What is the secret to turning failure around?

How can we see our failures through the eyes of faith?

How understanding failure is part of inside-out transformation?

You may also find of interest:

What Can J K Rowling Teach Us About Failure?

Failure and Depression: The Other Side of Lincoln's Life

9 Ways To Look At Your Failures With The Eyes Of Faith. Especially #7

How To Fail And Lose Well Part 1

How To Fail And Lose Well Part 2

Podcast #021: Grit

Podcast #013 How To Grow In Resilience

Podcast #030 Do You Need More Sleep?

Podcast #031: How Can I Live With Hope Today?

Podcast #038: How technology impacts time and sex

"The new is always better than the old." Do you agree? Disagree? As the impact of technology on our lives has accelerated this assumption has become increasingly taken for granted.
In our third and final conversation with Pete Nicholas about his book 'Virtually Human: Flourishing In A Digital World' we explore the powerful messages that come to us through technology around the subjects of time and sexuality.

 

While technology presents a narrative of never-ending progress when it comes to new devices and software , the impact on us as human beings grappling with its ramifications is far from straight-forward.

C.S. Lewis wrote about this in terms of what he called "Chronological snobbery." That is 'the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate of our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of of date is on that count discredited.' Pete in his book (p.114) shows us how this leads to the following kind of thinking:

  • We think we are the most technologically developed culture on earth.
  • Since time is an arrow to the future, that means we are at the head of the curve.
  • Therefore, our decisions (about morality, society, technology) are the most 'progressive'.
  • So, if other people/countries/cultures disagree, it is because they are lagging behind (but in time they will catch up and probably agree with us).

We tend to think of time as linear with a beginning and definite end, ultimately when the universe at some point in the future will come to a grinding halt. Here are some challenges to these assumptions we discuss from the book:

  • "Time is not a straight line heading for a finish. God is taking the cosmos towards its goal. In one sense this goal is the end of time; in another sense it is just the beginning.
  • The timeline is God's and not ours. We are graciously part of His story, but we need to watch out for the ways technology can be used to write Him out and put us centre stage."
  • Time is not a commodity, but a gift to be stewarded. As technology gives me such a variety of choices with what to do with my time, I need to become discerning about what I should do today and what can be left for tomorrow or another time.

For more on this also see Podcast #024: Making Sense of Time.

Technology has also had a huge influence on our view of sex an sexuality. On this podcast we go on to discuss:

  • How the digital story of sex is linked to the sexual revolution of the 20th century with its desire to liberate from previous norms and taboos.
  • How my sexual identity cannot be separated from my psychology and spirituality.
  • The dangers of pornography in objectifying women and men.
  • How the male editor of a pornographic magazine radically changed his views following the birth of his daughter.
  • How pornography while promising satisfaction and fulfilment actually leads to a growing addiction and enslavement with significant problems in relating to others.
  • How the Bible is able to be both open about sex without being crude and objectifying. There is emphasis on restraint without being oppressive while emphasising the beauty of sexual love within the marriage covenant.

In conclusion, the challenges technology brings into our lives are about living in wisdom. Tomorrow's problems from technology are going to be very different from today's problems. The key is becoming the right kind of person who can learn to cope and flourish while living by grace. In other words we need to live in wisdom.

Details on Covenant Eyes and more resources on sexual addiction we mention in our discussion is here.

Our previous discussions on the book are at Podcast #036 and #037

More details on the book are available at the Virtually Human website here.

What questions and comments does our discussion raise for you?

Podcast #037: Making sense of technology

Learning to flourish in a digital world

Technology impacts and influences our lives in increasingly powerful and profound ways. How do I make sense of technology in a way that truly enhances and enriches my life? This podcast is a continuation of my conversation with author Pete Nicholas on the book he has co-authored with Ed Brooks called "Virtually Human: Flourishing In a Digital World".

In our earlier discussion (Podcast #036: Virtually Human Part 1) we looked at while new technologies hold awesome potential for good there is another side to them. Surprisingly the essence of technology is not technological, but what it truly means to be human. When we engage unthinkingly with the online world there is a danger we begin to become like the technologies we use, relating and thinking without human connection. We fall short of what we were made to be and become virtually human.

So technology is much more than just a tool by which we engage with the world. It also changes us in both subtle and profound ways. Those who uncritically promote technology are keen to tell a story of never ending human flourishing and progress (For an example see the short Facebook video: The Things That Connect Us). However, this is far too simplistic. We need to both affirm the good that technology provides us while at the same time being realistic about its limitations to change basic human nature.

On this podcast we particularly focus on how technology impacts our identity and relationships. Do join us as we discuss:

  • How digital technologies like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram enable us to re-imagine and re-create who we are. What kind of online identity am I going to create and how much is it in integrity with who I am offline?
  • How Rene Descartes from 1639 has deeply affected our understanding of identity and the way we think of ourselves in the online world. We find ourselves caught between two conflicting narratives of 'be true to yourself' and at the same time 'shape yourself as you have no ultimate identity'.
  • While there is a very positive outworking of this in empowering someone like Malala Yousafzai to have a global voice in influencing and challenging the oppression of women there is another side in terms of raising questions around what ultimately is identity that can lead to loss of a sense of belonging anywhere.
  • How John Calvin from 1589  gives us a framework for understanding identity. We are made for worship - that is to find our ultimate identity and fulfilment in someone, something or some idea. We cannot stop ourselves from worshipping and the implications that has for us.
  • How social media has affected our relationships. There has been huge benefits in being able to connect with people from around the world and find out what friends and family are doing.
  • At the same time, quoting psychologist Sherry Turkle, "we have moved from conversation to connection, from talking to texting, from solitude to isolation, from interdependent to interconnected". (p.104)
  • How big business and huge amounts of investment and research is undertaken to make sure we stay connected to technology as much as possible.
  • The seriousness of these challenges when you consider how many Silicon Valley executives send their children to schools with a no device policy.
  • How technology makes it so easy to separate ourselves from people we don't like or whose views we disagree with. We lose the ability to work through problems we have with others and instead take the path of least resistance by dismissing them from our lives.
  • Why we need to learn how to dialogue with people who hold views different to our own without getting abusive or dismissive or demonising them.

You may also find of interest:

Podcast #025: Is there a difficult person in your life?

Discovering Silence and Solitude

More details on the book are available at the Virtually Human website here.

What questions and comments does our discussion raise for you?

Podcast #036: Virtually Human

Making sense of technology in our lives

Technology is now such a fundamental part of our lives that we so often take it completely for granted. From the moment we wake up to to check our clocks, or more likely our smartphones, to then often seamlessly go onto the Internet, social media and email, we hardly give a moment's thought to the incredible power we have available to us. Today's teenagers have never known a time when the Internet was not there. But how do we navigate with discernment and wisdom through the vast plethora of information and choices technology makes available to us?

Someone who has given a lot of thought to this is Pete Nicholas, who with co-author Ed Brooks, has written about the impact of technology on our lives in their book Virtually Human. The short 1 minute video above gives an introduction to the book.

Do come and join Pete Nicholas and I on this podcast as we discuss the implications of technology on our lives.

In particular on this podcast we explore how:

  • While technologies hold awesome potential for good, when we engage unthinkingly with the online world , there is a danger we become increasingly like the technologies we use, relating and thinking without human connection.
  • Technology should cause us to think about what does it actually mean to be human and how technology is changing us.
  • What do we actually mean by technology? Why technology is not a neutral tool but actually a frame through which we see the world that in turn then becomes the world in which we live.
  • We like to think we are in control of technology and creating a bold new future for ourselves of never ending progress. That is far too simplistic, or as C. S. Lewis put it:

"Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."

  • How we need to both affirm the good that technology provides us while at the same time being realistic about its limitations in changing basic human nature. We may have smart phones with amazing potential, but we are still the same greedy, self-centred and self-absorbed human beings we have always been.
  • What does the Biblical narrative have to say about how fulfilling the hope technology seeks to give us really comes from challenging and redeeming the failures and problems technology causes?

But perhaps most surprisingly and most importantly of all discussing technology is really about discussing what does it mean to be human.

We will carry on our discussion with Pete Nicholas in future podcasts, particularly looking at practical implications of how we handle technology in our challenging and complex world.

After listening to this podcast you may also find of interest:

Podcast #017: The Last Taboo Subject?

Podcast #029: The Literal End Of The World?

More details on the book are available at the Virtually Human website here.

What questions and comments does our discussion raise for you?

P.S. There is still time to take my reader survey!

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Podcast #035: What is life really all about?

A frank conversation with Rico Tice

Rico Tice is a senior minister at the church my family and I attend at All Souls, Langham Place in Central London. Rico is married to Lucy and they have three children. He is a Bible teacher and founder of the Christianity Explored course. This is a seven week study through the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament. At any one time there are 10,000 courses running around the world in over 100 countries with 122 official translations.

More recently Rico has helped to develop two further courses, Discipleship Explored which looks through the New Testament book of Philippians what it means to find joy in Christ and Life Explored which is an overview of the Bible as a whole.

 

On this podcast Rico and I explore:

Why being responsible for evangelism at All Soul's Church is much more than a job role, but something he is deeply passionate about.

His formative experiences growing up, including how the death of his godfather in 1982 had a profound impact on Rico's life.

Continual reminders of the brevity of life.

The importance of crossing the pain line when talking to others of the important issues around death and judgement.

In a world of different religions why it is not arrogant to say Jesus is the only way to God.

The importance of reading the Bible for yourself and doing so in community with others.

How Christ's death rescues us from the penalty, power and the presence of sin.

How the qualification to be a Christian disciple is not are you good enough, but are you bad enough.

The importance of a right understanding of hell and judgement.

Lessons in life Rico has learnt from his failures and mistakes.

Two books that have profoundly influenced Rico's life.

Why he also has a collection of over 300 books on rugby!

You may also find of interest:

Podcast #029: The literal end of the world?

Podcast #017: The last taboo subject?

Podcast #007: Religion

A tribute to my dear friend Abhishek Banerjee (12 October 1981 -17 March 2014)

How does our conversation speak into your own life?

 

Podcast #034: Life work balance?

Getting it right

We hear a lot about balancing life and work in our day and age. Wherever you look and whoever you talk to, getting the right balance in life is something many people are hungry for. With so many priorities and responsibilities in our lives this is becoming for many of us increasingly important and relevant.

But what do we actually mean when we say we want balance in our lives?

Do come and join my co-host Andrew Horton and I as we unpack this important subject. In particular we discuss:

  • How balance is grossly over-rated as a concept.
  • Why balance is more of a tension to be managed than a problem to be solved.
  • How work-life integration can be more helpful than balance.
  • The power of looking at my life as symphony 
  • The relevance of seasons to life.
  • Counter-intutitive reflections and examples from my favourite hero and book when it comes to balance.

You may also find of interest:

Work-life balance. Is it possible?

It it work-life balance or integration?

Are you in the right season?

Podcast #030: Do you need more sleep?

Podcast #010: Stephen R. Covey

What questions and thoughts on life-work balance does this topic and podcast raise for you?