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Teaching All Kinds

For one of my lab courses, I have them write a one-page essay on “What I Want To Do With My Life.” Then, I meet with each of them individually to discuss it and offer some suggestions on getting to whatever their next step is. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with physical chemistry. But we do so little to help our students prepare for life post-graduation that I think it is important. Most of the students agree strongly. Many thank me saying none of their other instructors have shown personal interest in them like this. But that’s not what I want to talk about. (Though if it offers you any ideas, feel free to use them!)

It is interesting to see the variety of dreams and plans they have, and nice to be able to share in those with them. A number of them reveal they are Christians in various ways—some by writing their essay somewhat evangelistically, some by commenting somehow about their faith, or by a chance phrase they might say in the interview. Whenever I pick up on it, I enjoy sharing my faith with them as well, and it is a mutual encouragement.

But I also have students coming from the complete other end of the spectrum. One of the questions I ask most students is “What are you passionate about?” Today, one student grew emphatic about his antipathy towards incorrect thinking about science, “things like the Intelligent Design movement!” Though I did my best not to react, he must have picked up on something, because he instantly switched to some scientific inaccuracy in a “Doctor Who” episode he saw. (For my take on the topic, see here.)

The rest of our time continued as normal, and I helped him just as completely and enthusiastically as everyone else. Sure, that’s the ‘professional’ thing to do, but it is also what love does. Christ fed thousands of people, some of whom would later shout, “Crucify!” He healed ten lepers knowing nine wouldn’t thank Him. He did it because He loved them as His children, not because He would get anything from them. It is called grace.

He did it without a word of explanation, and most probably never realized who they had just encountered. It is the same with this student. I had the opportunity to show love to him and help equip him for a successful career, and I gave it to him, even if he chooses to use that career to attack my faith.

Ministering meets the need without asking anything in return, and even with risk of hurt. Jesus ministered and received crucifixion. Helping this student was a no brainer.

“Always share your faith. If necessary, use words.”         -St. Francis


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