Count the Cost: and Spend It

September 3, 2019

“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them…He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me…’” (Mark 10:13-14, NIV 1984).

It was 1984 and the occasion was our daughter‘s sixth birthday. My father had become very concerned I was working so hard. Up to 60 to 80 hours a week. It was good work. Comprehensive patient care including spiritual care. Teaching residents, students and fellows in our teaching practice. Performing nationally recognized peer-reviewed, community-based studies. Faculty appointments at 10 medical schools. All was good.

But Daddy was concerned. He was concerned for me as a person, as a husband and as a father. He was concerned for my wife and my children. He prayed for me, but he did not know how to communicate his concern. I was working too hard for the wrong thing—financial security.

Then the Lord gave him an idea. After calling Kate on the night of her 6th birthday, he asked her to put me on the phone. After saying hello, he said “Congratulations.”

I said, “For what?” I thought he must be referring to one of my awards or recognition.

He softly replied, “For Kate’s birthday.”

I was momentarily confused. Then he said, “One-third of your life with her is over.”

His meaning, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, hit me like a tsunami. Barb and I begin to pray about this conviction and what we should do. Ultimately, with the concurrence of my partners, I cut back to eight half-days of work a week. Not a minute more. It was a one-third cut in work time, but a 50 percent cut in take-home income. Barb, Kate, Scott and I had long discussions about budgets and the financial applications. We all decided the sacrifices would be worth it.

I took off every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. The early afternoon for each of those days was just my Barb time. Then, when the kids got home, Tuesday afternoon and evening was just for Kate and me; Thursday afternoon evening was just my Scott time.

Fast forward to the year 2000. Kate, now in college, is studying at the Focus on the Family Institute (FOTF). CMDA and FOTF are having a physicians’ conference in Colorado Springs. Kate is attending with me and we go to a parenting seminar taught by Dick and Linda Swenson on parenting. My job is to introduce Dick and Linda. Kate and I greeted them, and then I sit down to briefly review the introduction. Kate, however, says, “Daddy, can I introduce them? It would really mean a lot for me to do so.”

I couldn’t see a reason why not, so I said, “Okay.”

At the appointed time, Kate stood up, called the room to attention and began her introduction: “Hi, everybody. My name is Kate Larimore. My daddy is Walt Larimore. He was supposed to do this introduction, but I asked him if I could. Here’s the reason why. Ever since I was a little girl, my mom and daddy have given me gifts on every Christmas, every Easter, at the beginning of school, at the end of school and for my birthday. Literally, dozens and dozens of gifts, but I can remember very few of them. We took trips and vacations galore, and I really only remember a few. But, after reading one of Dr. Swenson’s books, Margin, and receiving a conviction from his daddy and the Holy Spirit, my daddy chose to give me the greatest gift he has ever given me. Himself. Every Tuesday afternoon for the rest of my school days, when I got home from school, Daddy was there. We took walks together. We did homework together. We read together. We prayed together. We laughed together. I will never be the same, because of that single gift.” – Walt Larimore, MD

I hope most of you know Dr. Walt Larimore, Christian family medicine physician and prolific author who developed, with Dr. William Peel, The Saline Solution and Grace Prescriptions. When he sent me this story, I had just addressed the value of time with family and the real cost that would likely ensue from reducing my workload to focus on those I most love.  He told me this story of his own life, and then, he said, “I have found it true that ‘Where God guides God will always provide!’ You are correct that cutting back on work will have financial consequences, but if Spirit-led, it will NOT affect financial security. In our case, we had less money. A LOT less money. But we were never more financially secure. Never. We’ve found that God’s will, carried out in God’s way, will never suffer for a lack of God’s resources.”

Dear Father,
Let me be the father or mother You would be. Let me count the cost and take the time.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.