Worship (not Warship)
It seems like everyday there is a new religion in the world. Yesterday I read an article that estimated that there are over 4,200 different religions in the world. Just for the record, the label that would most aptly describe who I am is Christian. I really don't like that description because it does not educate somebody regarding my faith and beliefs. The world's history is full of animosity created at the bloody hands of religious zealots, extremists and terrorists. As a Mentor it is not your job to convert anybody. You must accept everyone as they are uncritically.
AID to MENTOR NAVIGATION Part 39
Mother Teresa was a pretty famous self sacrificing lady who demonstrated her faith through acts of love. She loved the lepers and impoverished folks in Calcutta. She accepted everybody equally, she loved everybody equally. An unconscious leper lying in the street did not have a religious label on his forehead. My favorite Mother Teresa quote is this:
“I used to think it was my job to convert people, it’s not. My job is to love people, love will do the converting.”
Your job as a Mentor is to love people.
Sharing your particular religious faith for informational purposes is perfectly acceptable. Inviting your Mentee to your religious service is acceptable. If they refuse any of your invitations, you need to refuse to be offended. Coercion of any form is not acceptable. Using force whether it's physical, emotional or verbal will result in resentment. You are a guide not a prison guard.
AID to MENTOR NAVIGATION Part 40
In a recent class at Erie Community College in Downtown Buffalo, New York, we spoke about religion. I like to start the class with a brief explanation about acceptance, segregation and hypocrisy. My remarks sounded like this:
"I don't care what your religious belief or lack of belief is. I respect all of you equally. I love all of you equally. It doesn't matter if you are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, spongebobology or any other form of religion. If I have a Muslim neighbor kneeling on his prayer rug, I will get down and pray with him. We may not be praying the same way but I still love him. If my other neighbor is an atheist, I'm still going to cut her lawn if she needs help. Accept people for who they are and don't start a war over who you think they should be."
The sad part about religion is the part of taking God out of schools. Religion is a part of history and yet fear has dictated the removal of "God discussions" in many classrooms. In most cases, the students accept that we are all different. They accept an explanation about treating everyone equally. It's usually an adult who complains to the administration that somebody dropped the "G-bomb." (They said God!) Children are naturally inquisitive. It seems like society attempts to be more inclusive by creating greater segregation.
Building honesty and trust through acceptance is the key ingredient in a successful Mentoring program. If your discussion offends someone then stop. Hopefully if you have a religious belief, it is one that unconditionally loves all people. Let your actions dictate a description of your love.