Category Archives: Politics

Important guest post about leadership in our tumultuous political times

Hi everyone!

Earlier this week I was preparing some thoughts for a perspective blog in light of our upcoming presidential election when I saw this article from Stephen Mansfield, addressing the noble, courageous Christian leadership that we need to manifest amid our tumultuous political times.[1] His words were so good that I decided to forego my own and instead share some of his thoughts here. I hope you don’t mind! 🙂

Stephen writes:

This is my last Leading Thoughts (leadership email) before the November 8 election, and so I would like to talk about leading in the era that is about to dawn.

This has been an election like no other in American history. You’ve heard this many times in recent months, I’m sure. Never before have the two leading candidates for president been as disliked and as distrusted by the American people. Never before have Americans been as disillusioned or as disappointed in the nation’s institutions.

We are entering a time in which fear, uncertainty, and despair are going to reign in many an American heart. We will get through this tumultuous season, of course, but only if there are leaders who know how to navigate such times.

We will have to remind people that times have been worse.
There is nothing as terrifying as believing that you live in the worst of times. This certainly isn’t true of our current era and we should remind people of this. When Thomas Jefferson was elected leading pundits predicted the apocalypse. When Lincoln was elected, the nation split in two. When Truman took office, some members of Congress had to be treated for depression. There have been worse times than now. We survived.

Difficult times are often when great advances happen.
We forget that during the Great Depression, ten thousand people became millionaires. We forget that times of hardship are often our most stunning times of creative and cultural advance. This same progress is possible now if we don’t despair and if we hold to the faith that tomorrow can be better than today.

We were born for this.
Since ninety percent of Americans believe in God, then it isn’t too much of a stretch to say that the vast majority of Americans see themselves as destined to live in the times they do. This means that when we face difficult seasons, we must have the attitude, “I was born for this.” Courage comes from this. Reliance on divine help comes from this. Strength to thrive comes from this.

Politics is not everything.
Our founding fathers wanted limited federal government since they believed that the meaningful things of life are what happens in the human heart, the human family, in communities, and in the common things of life. We are experiencing a tumultuous federal election. This is not the same thing as the earth spinning out of its orbit. We’ll get through it. There will be other elections. We’ll be more on guard as a nation for the corruptions and follies of our leaders. Good days are ahead. Hug your kids. Love your spouse. Do your job. Make your community better. Trust God.

That’s it. Lead and lead well. We need you in these gut-wrenching times.

[1] Stephen Mansfield’s work can be accessed at http://www.stephenmansfield.tv. This essay was from Stephen’s weekly Leading Thoughts leadership email.

Politics: Hold your nose and hold your nose tighter

Stuffed nose: boy with clothespin on his nose, simulating cold. Undated B/W photograph. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Hold your nose and hold your nose tighter.”

That’s how some sociologists describe the game of American politics today. Even when people fervently support a particular nominee or political party they usually do so in spite of certain inconsistencies, flawed voting records, or general character issues or deficiencies. They support their candidate…mostly.

This has probably never been truer than it is today in our current presidential election, with national polls revealing widespread, general distrust of both candidates. Additionally, this current election cycle is probably the most combative, aggressive, and divisive campaign that I have witnessed since I voted in my first presidential election in 1992.

If I may I would like to share a pastoral perspective on how Christians should be processing and approaching this current political cycle.

First, we need to NOT allow this round of politics to become a divisive issue in our churches. Our churches contain representatives from both sides of the political aisle. Let’s transcend the political chaos, remain firmly attached to our higher citizenship in God’s Kingdom, and not allow our national political circus to cause division and broken relationships within our congregations.

One of the ways to do this is for all of us to humbly acknowledge the flawed elements of our chosen candidate. There are legitimate questions and concerns to be raised with each of the presidential nominees. Rather, than ignoring those concerns and becoming defensive and belligerent with one another, let’s recognize that fair, wise, thinking people can come to different conclusions from us.

Second, let’s vote as closely as we can to our values. As followers of Christ, we must ask, “What are our core, animating principles?” What issues of life, liberty, and international concern most closely align with our deepest-seated values and the teachings of Jesus Christ? Which candidate aligns the closest to our most cherished values? We must take the time to find out and then vote accordingly.

Third, we can never stop praying about all of the issues, problems, and opportunities in our world today. Remember that the Apostle Paul placed prayers for leaders and authority figures near the top of our prayer lists (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Fourth, let’s live our faith. This is an amazing time in which to live courageous, noble, God honoring lives in our generation. Let’s do so for the glory of God and for the future of our world.

Waiting to exhale

starting blocks

“Runners, take your mark…get set…”

 

Now hold it right there.

 

Have you ever noticed the peculiar rituals that Olympic sprinters go through at the beginning of their races? They not only perform weird—probably superstitious—stretching routines, but they also take forever before they stop fidgeting and fussing in the starting blocks.

 

It’s a common thing for sprinters to do.

 

The reason they take so long getting settled is because they know that once they’re “set” they aren’t allowed to move again until the gun signals the start of their race. They also know that a set position is really tough to hold.

 

When a sprinter stays set for too long their arms get shaky, their stress levels spike, and they risk incurring a false start.

 

It seems that a lot of people today are stuck in the set position. They’re holding their breath, wondering what will happen with our global instabilities, our shaky financial institutions, and our exhausting presidential campaigns. They’re poised and taut, ready to run their race, but not exactly sure where the lane in front of them is taking them.

 

Fortunately Easter weekend has an answer. To every stressed-out sprinter still in the starting blocks, Easter cries out: “You’re still waiting to exhale…but God already has! While you hold your breath, fearful of tomorrow, God has already made provision for your future.”

 

The closer we move toward Jesus Christ the more freely we can begin breathing again. The more we exhale our anxiety, by inhaling His peace, the more strength we receive to run with fresh purpose, smile at the future, and help make our world a better place. Let’s go for it. Let’s lean into Jesus, and let’s run the race assigned to us.

 

God bless you this Easter weekend!

 

Merging faith and politics

Four years ago in his televised interviews with then presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, Pastor Rick Warren aptly stated: “We believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and politics.”

One of the beautiful freedoms in our American heritage is our right to worship without the intrusion of the state. We don’t want the state imposing sanctions on our (or anyone else’s) worship expressions. However, we adamantly believe that our faith should influence our politics. Indeed, for the Christian, it is impossible to separate the two since our faith is not a compartmentalized practice but an indispensable part of our very identity.

Here are some simple ways to practice the merging of our faith and politics.

  1. Pray for all those in authority…regardless of their side of the aisle. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)
  2. Ask God to give us righteous leaders since it is righteousness that truly “exalts a nation.” (Proverbs 14:34)
  3. Vote for candidates that best conform to a Biblical world-view. (2 Samuel 23:3, Matthew 6:33)
  4. Remember that although our natural citizenship may be in the USA, we ultimately belong to a higher Kingdom. (Hebrews 12:23)
  5. Live Christ-centered lives that transcend the values of the world around us. (John 15:19)
  6. Remain ever ready to give an answer in defense of our faith. (1 Peter 3:15)