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The Vet’s Dog


Issue 189

Have you noticed that the closer you are to something, the harder it is to see it? There is something about human ability which becomes ineffective close-up. It is as though you can be blinded by proximity. No-one is closer to you than yourself, so you have the potential to be prone to this proximity blindness when you look at yourself.

I have a friend who is a great hairdresser but he always gets a colleague to cut his hair. He simply can’t see to cut his own. When I work with people on their stress levels they sometimes comment that I must be very calm, myself – ‘not necessarily’ is my response, because it’s very hard to listen to your own advice.

Doctors may self-medicate but they are not encouraged to do so and of course some treatment is absurdly impossible. Surgeons cannot operate on themselves, except perhaps for minor problems. The proverb around in Jesus day –‘physician heal yourself’- may have been well known but it was not well conceived.

The irony is that the very skills  we apply in other people’s lives are so difficult to apply to ourselves. The mistake, I would suggest, is to bemoan this fact as if this was always a sign of hypocrisy, weakness or incompetence.

It is true that we can see the specks of sawdust in our brother’s eye and have great difficulty seeing the plank in our own. In this situation we do well to be a little harder on ourselves, for it is indeed hypocrisy.

There is, however, another more positive side to this phenomenon. When Moses came down from the mountain of God, his face was shining and he didn’t know it, and he couldn’t see. I would suggest to you that you will have many shining qualities, (probably for different reasons), which you may not be able to see. Only someone else will be able to see them and point them out to you. This is not weakness but  how it’s meant to be. Why does Jesus emphasise the way of love so much? It’s because we need others to build us up and show us our gifts, abilities and strengths. The eye needs the hand, and the hand needs the leg, otherwise we just behave in a grotesque manner. You and I have different gifts and callings, I need help to find mine and you do to find yours. This is why you need to apply your skills for others and invite others to apply theirs to you.

There is a well known phenomenon in the animal world namely ‘the vet’s dog’. This poor animal is the one who is close to an owner who spends all working hours bringing health and healing to other dogs, yet doesn’t see the needs of the dog in the room at home. The best way to sort out that problem  is to bring in another vet. Maybe in your working life it is time to bring in outside help for yourself in the very areas in which you may be skilled in helping others. Maybe it’s time to let someone show you your strengths and remind you of your gifts. Maybe it’s time to let your light shine as God intended when he first put light in you.


Exodus 34 :29-35

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai.

33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

Matthew 5:14-16

14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

John 13:34-35

34″A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

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Tags: call, gift, interdependence

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Geoff Shattock

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