Keeping the faith is what counts

October 27th, 1997

Around the time of Mother Teresa's funeral, I bought one of her books, A Simple Plan (Ballantine, 1995). Having overdosed on her deeds, I just wanted to find out more about her thinking and her faith. Her lessons are both clear and simple: Faith, surrender, obedience and prayer gave her the strength to serve others. Once, when asked to account for her success, she said, "It is not my purpose to succeed. It is my purpose to keep faith." 

Mother Teresa's influence is also evident in her volunteers. Example: A man named Gerry said, "I've found out that to think about changing the world is an impossible and probably arrogant idea. If you don't like it the way it is, then change yourself. That is what I've done within my family, my work and my life. Through changing myself I can touch others more closely." 

This catch-up reading on Mother Teresa turned out to be good preparation for understanding what was going on last Saturday, as more than a million men converged on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Purpose: To answer the call of Promise Keeper founder Bill McCartney to come to Washington for a "sacred assembly of men" to pray, confess, repent and ask forgiveness. 

This catch-up reading on Mother Teresa turned out to be good preparation for understanding what was going on last Saturday, as more than a million men converged on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Purpose: To answer the call of Promise Keeper founder Bill McCartney to come to Washington for a "sacred assembly of men" to pray, confess, repent and ask forgiveness. 

Another example: At the end of the day, when it was all over, Promise Keepers bagged and lugged off their trash from their day on the Mall -- more than 20 tons by Park Police estimates. 

Both of these experiences reminded me of Gerry's story: You make the world a better place by changing your own behavior, first on the little things, like being neat and being civil. 

Second, Promise Keepers is flirting with the siren call of politics. It is the job of a Promise Keeper to keep seven promises: to lead a Christ-centered life; mentor other men; practice spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity; care for your family; attend church; promote racial reconciliation and overcome denominational barriers; and spread the word. There is nothing there about running for office or taking over a government. 

Unfortunately, a headline from Monday's Washington Times read "Promise Keepers founder won't say no to political office." The headline, of course, referred to McCartney's refusal Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press to close the door to a political career. Sunday was a time for coach McCartney to make a Shermanesque statement: If nominated I will not run; if elected, I will not serve. 

By coming up short, McCartney has a self-inflicted wound. And it's a festering wound because it can undermine his integrity as a leader and the integrity of the Promise Keepers movement. 

McCartney and other PK officials have spent a lot of time denying that the group has a partisan political agenda, pointing out that it has no lobbyists, no Washington office, no list of "approved" candidates or voting index to score how members of Congress or the state legislature vote. 

Men did not come to Washington to support a political career for Bill McCartney. McCartney has an historic achievement under his belt. Now he needs to heed the admonition of Mother Teresa: It is not our purpose to succeed. It is our purpose to keep the faith...and our promises. 

And to heed to lesson of Gerry: Look first at your own behavior. This is no time for Promise Keepers to become Promise Breakers. 

Number: 
330

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