As I look back, I realize that God has given me a career path with some rather unique experiences. I have built bridges at the intersection of faith and government my whole life, and I have learned that serving people through a role in government can be just as important as serving them through a role in the church.
To be involved in our communities is also to be involved in the political processes that impact them. Is it not better to prevent tragedy before we must race in and help heal it? The tragedy of corruption and betrayal of the people is happening every day in our modern system, and we do have the power to do something about it!
Many Christians have quite simply forgotten our enormous collective power.
The United States has the largest Christian population in the world and, more specifically, the largest Protestant population globally, with more than 200 million Christians.
Some simply do not believe that politics is something Jesus would call them to do, so they take no action other than prayer. But the truth is, He has given us the authority and ability to govern. The truth is that the government is designed for moral people to run it.
I am reminded of Matthew 7:3–5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
It is time to get the plank out of your eye when it comes to political involvement. Before you complain about the problems you see with the government, ask yourself, “What am I doing to get involved and make a difference?” Everyone can do something. To have a moral, efficiently running political system is as important as having clean water and healthy food.
Christians understand the concept of tithing, but they seem to be totally disconnected from the fact that just as money is needed to run a church and feed orphans, money is needed to run campaigns to elect the right kind of people to office.
I have seen firsthand that people of faith can make an incredible difference in the needs of suffering communities here at home and all over the world. I have witnessed them fighting problems such as homelessness, youth violence, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS and malaria. I have seen them respond to disasters, provide education, deliver food assistance, and so much more. That degree of caring, commitment, and organization can also work toward strengthening our democracy and governance.
First and foremost, we must humble ourselves and pray, for this should always be where we start. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14, emphasis added).
It doesn’t stop there however. Saying to our leadership, “I’m going to pray for you,” and then going on about our lives just isn’t enough. To restore the country and preserve our freedoms, including our religious freedoms, you are going to have to get involved.
What would have happened if Elisha stopped with prayer in 2 Kings 4:32–35? “When Elisha reached the house, there was the boy lying dead on his couch. He went in, shut the door on the two of them, and prayed to the Lord. Then he got on the bed and lay on the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As Elisha stretched himself out on him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out on him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes.” Prayer was just the start of the miracle that was performed through Elisha!
We pray first that we are guided to make the right choices at the polls. Too often we blindly vote for the career politician because we recognize their name. Are we biased just because we’ve heard about them for years, sometimes most of our lives?
But what do we really know about them? Are they serving the people who sent them there? Many of these folks are good at getting elected, but they are not very good at serving their constituents. Perhaps you feel like God has been nudging you to get more involved politically or to even consider running for office.
Are you concerned about what you see happening around you but don’t know what to do? Thinking differently about how you approach the arena of government may be what God is encouraging you to do.
Terri Hasdorff is a former congressional candidate and an executive-level leader with over 20 years’ experience in government and politics. She began her career in 1991 in what is now called the White House Office of Public Engagement, where she had the honor of working with faith leaders from across the country. She later served on Capitol Hill for six years, then ran for a seat in the US House to represent Alabama’s second congressional district. She has a bachelor’s degree from Samford University, is a graduate of the senior executives program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and is currently in the executive MBA program at Oxford University.