Dr. John Isch on Surrendering the Glory
When John Isch was in high school, his father asked him if he wanted to one day run the family hardware store. Though he wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do, John couldn’t quite see himself in the hardware business. However, after only a week of carrying lunch trays and bed pans in a local hospital, he knew he had found his calling. He would have a career in medicine. John Isch went on to become a renowned heart surgeon, founding a large medical practice and serving as Chief of Surgery at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis. By the time he retired, the practice he started included 37 surgeons.
Early on, Dr. Isch began to see the ways God had specifically equipped him for this work. He says, “The way He made me included the ability to visualize things as to how they were and how they needed to be.” His mind was wired for surgery, and he excelled at it. But while he saw the ways God had blessed him, he found he was also dealing with tremendous unchecked pride in himself. After all, he was highly successful in a job where he literally saved lives. Didn’t he have reason to be proud?
One day, he went into a consultation room to speak with the family of a patient. He shared a synopsis of what was going on, but he felt conviction about their response. They were treating him like a god, as if his hands alone were the ones that would save their loved one. Though he was a Christian, Dr. Isch realized he was not giving God the glory in his life.
From that day onward, he made a promise. He would never take credit for what was truly God’s handiwork. When he received praise and thanks, he would redirect it, telling people to instead give praise to the Great Physician.
He also began to see his job as a true mission field. He explains, “The Lord knew that He wanted to use me for more than just dealing with physical hearts. In my specialty, people are obviously very sick, and the risks of the procedures they undergo are significant. That leads to real trust in you as their surgeon, and it leads to open doors immediately to share in deeper areas of their life. That was precious to me, to get into their life and have them open up about where they were in their faith journey and where they hope to go, and for me to be really candid and truthful about the simple realities of the gospel and its message.”
God had another humbling process in mind for Dr. Isch. To his great surprise, the congregation of his church asked him if he would be their pastor. This was while he was still a full-time surgeon, husband, and father. He initially thought there was no way he would be able to fulfill this role, but as He always does, God made a way. As a byproduct, Dr. Isch found his life fully transformed as he dove deeper into Scripture than he ever had before.
If there’s one thing he’s learned about obedience to the Lord, it’s this: “It takes commitment, but God meets you more than halfway.”
On this episode of Step Into the Story, Dr. John Isch talks about surrendering our egos, giving God the glory, and obeying in all things.