Politics and the church – our response

It’s election year. FYI: it’s Leap Year which is always election year – so important for politicians to have that extra day you know. 

And you can’t tell me that politics hasn’t affected, maybe even divided, your church. The media would have us believe that this election is the most divisive this country has ever seen. And while it is definitely polarizing, history reminds us of a few others such as President Lincoln’s fight to free slaves or President Roosevelt’s fight to bring in the New Deal. By everything I’ve read both of these, and probably many others, definitely brought out the fighting spirit of Americans, no matter if they were for or against the agendas. Since I wasn’t alive for either Lincoln’s or Roosevelt’s fights, I know this election has reached new heights in polarizing people than any I can remember.

It’s easy to assume that since the majority of the people attending your church have like faith that they will also have like political views. Reality says that is not so. Because the issues are close to our heart; we may find it horrifying that a Christian doesn’t believe as we do. Polls show that we find devout Christians on both sides of the political fence and, particularly, the issues facing us this year.

It shouldn’t be a surprise we can’t agree on politics when we consistently experience an inability to agree on any number of things in church like hymns vs scripture songs, traditional church vs home churches, democrats vs republicans vs libertarians …. Easy to see that “the consensus after an election is that 100% of Americans think 50% of Americans have lost their minds.”

Is there anything we can do? Should we avoid the topic like poison ivy?

Avoiding a hard subject is never the correct answer whether it’s drugs, sex, alcohol, or politics. It’s too easy to be sidelined into rancorous territory when talking specific candidates or political parties, so instead, concentrate on the issues. What does our Christianity demonstrate about us when seen through the lens of our stand on abortion, socialism, refugees, human trafficking, immigration, drugs, alcohol, and welfare?

Hopefully we’ll let these thoughts guide our interactions with others:

  • Let our comments be marked by the fruit of the spirit. When someone airs their frustration with the state of America and politics (and I’ve certainly been there) understand it is fear that holds them. Remind them of Proverbs 21:1 KJV – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water, or Jeremiah 29:7 NIV – Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” I too easily give up on prayer.
  • Demonstrating hatred towards the other side exposes the shallowness of our walk with Christ. If we truly believe God is in control, we will pray rather than rant on social media. We have the right to state our opinion; we just need remember to do it with grace.
  • Encourage others, (and yourself), by remembering that God has changed the heart of a nation before and can again. Politics and voting are vital to democracy, but in themselves do not change people’s hearts.

This year, cover our nation with prayer. And remember to vote.

Admonish mentoring

Even if you’re not someone who sets formal goals for the New Year, you probably just naturally resolved to get your act together this year. I always encourage pastors’ wives to set boundaries in their lives, and with January it’s a good time to analyze if we seem to be accepting more responsibility than we should. More responsibility than God expects of us.

I am privileged to be a part of a new program for pastors’ wives to roll out this year. It is a mentoring program under the auspices of Breathe Ministry [www.BreatheMinistry.com]. The program is called Admonish, and is patterned after Titus 2:4 (KJV). “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children…”

I am so excited about it. I learned something during the training that I wish to share here. Dayna Garver, creator of Breathe explained to us the differences between being a mentor, a counselor, and a life coach. Knowing the distinctions is very important, not just for those of us who will be mentoring, but more importantly for those of us in ministry. We need to be aware of where the limits are on our ability to help others; we need to place boundaries that keep us from trying to help when professional help is necesssary for someone we know.

A counselor is someone who has been trained and licensed to help people deal with trauma from their present or past to gain healing.

A life coach is someone who is trained and licensed to deal with someone’s present to help them navigate their future.

A mentor, however, is someone who comes alongside another to help them grow in Christ, by showing them the way.

Mentoring is definitely what we are called to do. And when women approach us with more serious problems about hurts and wounds they carry, we need to encourage them to seek professional help. We walk alongside them as they gain the help they need, to demonstrate friendship, but we do not try to heal them ourselves. When someone wants to talk about their dreams and their future, we encourage them and share their vision, but if they are having problems knowing what steps they need to take and how they should be structured to reach their goals, we need to encourage them to seek out a life coach.

Fullfilling what God has called us to be – mentors — is what will satisfy and not frustrate us.