​Pastors, doctors and the god complex…

So much has been said about doctors and pastors in the Nigerian cyberspace, but one common denominator I have observed is that they are both equally privately loved as much as they are publicly harangued. You need only to stay on Twitter or Facebook for a few minutes before you see people berate organised religion, malign one pastor for his wealth or abuse another for not being socially correct, denigrate one church for her archaic views and practises… and the list goes on; but never ends without a quick mention of how incompetent Nigerian doctors are, how they are selfish and only go on strike because of salaries, etc. This is now a recurring phenomenon that we have come to live with, and is in no way the object of my interest today. 

Having lived as a Christian for at least two decades, and practised medicine for about three years, including one year in a rural Southwestern Nigerian community, I have made certain observations as well as had a few encounters that ofttimes leave me curious, and it’s as a result of this curiosity that I ask this simple question: who is the bigger god, the pastor or the doctor? In fact, is the doctor really a god as I’ve once asserted? Stay with me.

Funny scenario: I once knew this young man, about 20 years of age, I think, who having had some challenges furthering his formal education, heeded the Lord’s call and went into full time ministry – now the validity of that call is beyond the scope of this article. LOL. I’d rather leave such discourse for the skeptics and agnostics amongst my readers. I must confess I was more than befuddled, and at the same time equally amused when I saw how he was revered by the elderly, especially women, in the church. He was no longer that boy seeking admission a few months ago, he was now “our pastor”. To tell you the truth, the English language will fail me to appropriately describe how this was communicated to me by one of the women in the ever genuflecting manner characteristic of Yoruba women. My young friend is now a pastor, a shepherd with his own flock. He is now a man of God; officially, a god to many men. Did I hear someone say I was jealous? Nope… far from it. 

On the flipside, one of my friends graduated as a medical doctor, with a licence to practice medicine at the prime age of 21 – one of the few lucky, howbeit brilliant ones, I must note. Unfortunately, it was not unusual for patients to refuse to see him at the hospital, but rather ask to see the “real doctor”… he’s considered too young to be a doctor – too bad!  Whilst I’ve not been as unfortunate as he was, I cannot deny that I’ve had times, in spite of my gradually greying hair, that some people have stupidly asked to see “the doctor” after I had attended to them. I mean,  who did they think I was? The receptionist?!? Oh now you want to conclude that I’m definitely jealous of my young Pastor friend eh? Nope… Still far from it. I’ve come a long way in this practice… LOL… Please don’t quote that anywhere – I’ve not even started yet. 

Nonetheless, I cannot deny that I’ve had my fair share of adulation and veneration from people old enough to be my grandmother, simply because I happen to be the doctor on duty – and many a doctor would attest to this. Personally, it’s one of the very shuddering feelings I encounter, and to tell you the truth, I find it really scary sometimes. It did make me wish I was back to those Lagos patients that don’t give a hoot about your being their doctor or whatsoever. LOL. 

Whilst, the pastor usually gets the gifts after the doctor’s intervention to save the patient’s life, one cannot but mention the few occasions when patients have superfluously treated their doctors well. But having described the foregoing, the question remains: who is the bigger god, the doctor or the pastor? 

In this curiosity, I once asked my mum what her thoughts were on this particular matter and she was generous to elucidate why the pastor, however young, is at least a little bit more revered – “the mantle on his life”, she called it. 

But then, I am left bewildered when I recall my personal experience with a 60year old pastor who was always genuflecting in my consulting room for the few months I was practicing in the village, and who whenever I walk past his house (which happens to be the church), never for once failed to leave whoever he was with or whatever he was doing, just to greet his doctor. I mean! A pastor, the shepherd of the flock, does all that, for this ordinary young doctor!

Now you tell me who’s the bigger god…