by Steve Sittnick
My wife, Cava, and I have been members of Holy Communion for three years and longtime pledging Episcopalians. I have been asked to deliver a brief personal reflection on stewardship.
I consider the act of pledging as a one of the expressions of my faith – an act of personal devotion to God. I confess that when I consider what our pledge should be, I am drawn more toward just how God has been faithful to us through the years, rather than to the compelling need to financially support our church. Let me tell you just how God has demonstrated his faithfulness to me and to my family.
Some of you may know that I serve in my current profession as one of the newest old physicians in America. After a career as an Army Ranger I retired at the age of 48 to start medical school. Needless to say, there were no other retired army colonels with families at home who needed financial and emotional support in my first-year medical class. I was the quintessential expression of a non-traditional medical student. As Father Sandy reminded me, “Steve, your path was far from standard, but it was the path that God had appointed.”
I did what some might consider unwise – I started medical school with no clear means to pay for the significant cost of a medical education and at the same time provide for my family.
In the second week of classes, I received a call from Cava during class. She said, “Steve, I have a registered envelope from the National Health Service Corps.” I had competed for one of the very few scholarships they award annually to those willing to provide health care to the poor and underserved. “Do you want me to open the envelope, Steve?”
“Of course,” I said. “Good,” she said, “because I already have – can I read it to you?”
“’Congratulations! You have been awarded a full scholarship to medical school that will cover all expenses due to your willingness to serve this nation’s poor and underserved.’”
There was exultation on her end of the phone line – on my end, I was overwhelmed. I went to the chapel on our medical school campus, fell to my knees and said, “Ok, God, I got it. You brought me to it – and you’ll get us through it.”
With my family’s full support, I chose to devote myself to God fully, and he provided the means that I needed to make it happen. So the greater measure of faithfulness once again was not in this man’s leap of faith as much as it was in God’s answer of faithfulness back. The take-away: Go ahead, pledge yourself to God in a unique way. He has a track record of answering with an extraordinary act of love and faithfulness in return.
Steve was born the son of soldier and spent his early life traveling the world. He graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. in 1977 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. He spent 26 years as an Army Ranger, serving his country in peace and war. After retiring at the rank Colonel, he attended medical school and completed a residency in family medicine. He then accepted a position with Christ Community Health Services in Memphis. He was appointed as Chief Medical Officer of Christ Community in April 2013.
His academic qualifications include bachelor of arts in political science from The Citadel, a master of arts and science in strategy and operations from The United States Command and General Staff College, and a doctor of medicine from Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience.
Dr. Sittnick has received and accepted two calls in his life: one to be a soldier at the age of 10, while holding his father’s hand on the steps of the Unknown Soldier monument, and one, 30 years later, to be a physician.
He definitely married up by capturing the heart of the former Cava Leila Skardon of Charleston, S.C., who saved him from the life of a wandering Yankee. They have moved 17 times in their life together, fulfilling the call to serve. They have two children. Their son Mack graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and is a US Army Infantry First Lieutenant assigned to the 82nd Airborne at Ft. Bragg. Their daughter, Sally, is a senior at The United States Military Academy. The entire Sittnick family is dedicated to serving the Lord Jesus Christ and adhering to the motto of “do what you love and love what you do.”
If he had to live his life over again there are four decisions Steve would make again:
- He would surrender his life to Jesus Christ
- He would marry the same woman again
- He would be a soldier
- He would be a doctor.