FIRST-PERSON: The presidential election: things to keep in mind
Ronnie Floyd is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. (BP) -- During this pivotal year of electing the next president of the United States, we need to be wise with our words and actions.
These are serious times. Much passion is rising in America during this season. It is in the air. We sense it, feel it and know it in our heart. Much is at stake. This is undeniable.
Yet, it would be well for each of us to remember these five things during the election season:
1. Keep everything in perspective.
God is sovereign over all human affairs. Regardless of who wins the nomination of your preferred party or who wins the election, God is ultimately in charge.
I am not advocating passivism. I am calling for each of us to keep everything in perspective. Our hope and trust is ultimately in the Lord.
2. Be involved in the process.
Each Christ-follower needs to be involved in the processes of electing our next president. We need to know about the candidates, understand what they believe, measure it by the Word of God, and vote as we believe God is leading us. We need to vote not only in the general election, but also in the primary of our choice.
It is incumbent upon us to be involved in the process at whatever level afforded to us. If you get a chance to meet one or more of the candidates, meet them. If you get a chance to speak into their lives and platform, step up and represent the Lord and His Word honorably. If you are never afforded this privilege, learn what you can by listening, watching and reading.
I say it again; it is incumbent upon us to be involved in the process of electing our next president. Quite honestly, America cannot afford for us to stay at home.
3. Watch what you say and how you say it.
Passion is rising over these matters. In our respective places and positions, each of us will be asked our opinions. Therefore, we need to be deliberate in what we say and how we say it.
People are watching and listening to us. We represent our Lord everywhere, so we need to live up to this wisely. This does not keep us from providing insights and speaking up when appropriate, but it does call us to weigh every word we say and the way we say it.
Do not lose your testimony and influence with others for the sake of pontificating, as if you are trying to win an argument or promote your preferred persuasion. This is difficult for each of us, but we must be wise with our words and gentle in our spirit.
In our congregations, we have people from all backgrounds with all kinds of opinions. This should not call us to silence or intimidate us into fearfulness. Yet, it does call us to be wise with our words and clear in every way, exhibiting at all times the spirit of Christ.
4. Refuse to be categorized.
Election season usually pushes us into categories and labels. It is now more than obvious by what we read that even evangelicals are broken into various categories. These categories are labeling different groups and how they will vote with different candidates.
I hope each of us will strive not to be categorized by anyone.
We are one thing ultimately: followers of Jesus Christ. This is our badge of honor. If we abandon this by our actions or opinions, we will begin to lose our prophetic voice during this critical hour in America.
5. Pray for God to raise up His next leader for our nation.
Daniel 2:21 says, "He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning" (NIV). God does have a will for our nation and He has the power to raise up whomever He desires to lead our nation.
As followers of Christ, while we work in the processes afforded us as Americans, we need to also pray for God to raise up His next leader for our nation. May He raise up such a leader where His mercy will extend toward us. And, regardless of this leader, I pray for the mercy of the Lord to be upon us.
When we know we have worked in the processes and prayed for the Lord's will to be done, when all is concluded, we have the peace to trust the Lord who is sovereign over all affairs.
Finally, let's pray for one another to remember these five things during the presidential election season.