To the Candidates

From Second Philippians

(with thanks to the apostle Paul)

As I was directed to several verses this morning, it seemed to me a letter is in order to the politicians running for the United States Presidency.

As a reminder, the apostle Paul, who was in jail in Rome, wrote to the church in Philippi to encourage them to grow and mature in their faith. He knew what staying immobile and stagnant would look like – he had already written to the church in Galatia about the problem of stagnation (Galatians 5:19-20) – and didn’t want this to happen to the church in Philippi.

So, I address this letter, borrowing heavily from Paul, to those candidates who claim to be Christians (or who claim to uphold Christian values or who wish to appeal to voters who claim to be Christian or Evangelical or any other denomination who claims to uphold Christian values).

©KennethWyatt1987

©KennethWyatt1987

To All Candidates,

Grace and peace to you. May Christ’s Spirit bring you wisdom, integrity and compassion.

As you travel on this journey, we can all admit it is fraught with temptation. Those even in your midst would attempt to exert influence over you, gambling with your heart and mind to battle those also seeking office. Their intention is resolved to keep your focus away from the true struggle. It is not with your campaign opponents.

Those of us who follow Jesus ache as we watch you flail about in immature pursuits and misdirected messages about our Lord. We cringe because we know the world is watching. We grieve because we feel the Holy Spirit’s grief as you attempt to represent us and speak to our values.

As the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:

Some people tell the message about Christ because of their jealousy and envy. Others tell the message about him because of their good will. Those who tell the message about Christ out of love know that God has put me here to defend the Good News. But the others are insincere. They tell the message about Christ out of selfish ambition (Philippians 1:15-17)

©Michael Halbert

©Michael Halbert

Pretending you are someone you are not is not the way. Denigrating one another is not the way. Spewing hateful words is not the way. Being spiteful and contentious is not the way. Being boastful is not the way. Telling half truths is not the way.

Certainly you can find ways to disagree while remaining respectful and humble. Clearly you can find ways to point out differences without sarcasm. Undeniably, as presidential material, you can find ways to lead the pack on higher ground.

If there is any encouragement in belonging to Christ, any comfort from His love, any fellowship in His abiding Spirit, any affection or compassion, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being united in that same Spirit. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility, be moved to think of and treat one another as more important than yourselves. (Philippians 2:1-3)

You see, we Christians who are watching but silent, we Christians who are waiting to cast our votes will determine who you really are by two criteria. And interestingly, they have nothing to do with party affiliation. They have everything to do with leadership qualities.

The First

Again, let’s turn to the apostle Paul. Before he was saved, he had status and wealth, education and title; he persecuted zealously those who he saw as a threat to the established leadership. Yet after Jesus opened his eyes and heart, Paul realized after a lifetime of evangelism what was truly important:

I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. It’s because of him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain [knowing] Christ…Whoever has a mature faith should think this way. And if you think otherwise, God will reveal it to you and make it plain. (Philippians 3:8, 15)

So are you mature in your faith; do you follow Jesus above all else? Do you show all people you follow him by illustrating your love through your words and actions?

The Second

In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman wrote a book called In Search of Excellence. The authors coined the term MBWA – management by walking around. One of the points of walking around was to look for things people were doing right.

Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes egregious mistakes. Do we honestly – honestly – believe our presidents are or should be pure as the driven snow? Or is it more important they humbly own up to past mistakes and let us know how they have overcome? And is it your job as a candidate to point out the splinter in someone else’s eye without first revealing the log in your own?

Wouldn’t it be something if each of you actually pointed out something the current President and the other candidates did right?

Here’s how the apostle Paul puts it:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

And sorry, using the excuse, “There’s nothing there to find,” just doesn’t cut it.

At some point, you and possibly some other folks decided you have the qualities and character to be President of this fine country. You entered the race.

Now it’s time to flip that old adage: Put your mouth where your money is.

May the grace, love and wisdom of God be with you.

20 comments

  1. Light Ministry Blog · ·

    This is a compelling and well written letter, Susan. I hope the words will soften hearts and open minds…

    Steve

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    1. I keep praying, Steve.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Light Ministry Blog · ·

        I’m one who isn’t convinced by either candidate. But I believe in the Lord and His will. Which ever one wins, it will be in His plan and will for us. I just wish for the same thing you and many others do…that our nation’s leaders would turn to the ways of the Lord. That is what will make this country “Great Again!”

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      2. Absolutely right, Steve! Couldn’t have said it better.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Light Ministry Blog · ·

        Have a great weekend!

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  2. […] in January, I posted a Letter to the Candidates concerning the tenor of their character and blueprints of their respective campaigns, pleading with […]

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  3. I nearly howled out loud as I read this! Amen! Amen! And Amen! I cringe knowing we have almost a year of candidates spewing hate and rhetoric to no end. If I could, I’l love to see this take up a page in the New York Times. Bless You, so very well said.

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    1. lol! Oh, Lilka, I cherish your comments. And truly, if I could afford a page in the NYTimes, I would!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Catch people doing things right. So hard, isn’t it? Far easier to criticize and I admit, I do it all the time. By the same token, we need to step in when we see harm or wrongdoing for the sake of the victim. It is a thin edge to walk. Waking up would help. A lot of what is going wrong now is the result of past errors in judgment, usually from the self wanting to be top dog.

    Someone said these debates are about dominance. I so loathe that concept. That is why I reject the translation of the word that most people call “dominion”, I translate it instead a “domicile”, giving shelter to every thing and being on this planet.

    How can we shelter if we are rejecting and belittling?

    All this flooded into my head when I read your post, Susan.

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    1. Beth, first, we certainly need to step up when we see someone being victimized or bullied. Staying silent is not an option.
      Second, I agree with your assessment of “top dogs” and dominance. Frankly, watching the debates brings to mind a pack of dogs marking their territory. And we are supposed to be created above that, aren’t we?

      And wanting to be top dog and putting others first are mutually exclusive, yes?

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  5. It would be nice if politics actually ran this way. Unfortunately, it runs on fear, both for the candidates and for the voters. Those in real contention see “Christian” values, aka “American values,” as a way to garner votes.Those with genuine convictions often don’t make it into the final running. Very hard to tell where they really stand. I’m praying for discernment and hoping for the best with you, Susan. 🙂

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    1. Yes, I know this is the reality, Mel. But you know me; I can’t simply leave it at reality. After all, Jesus did change the hearts of two of the Pharisees (Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea)!

      I think the majority of us watching this tragedy play out must, as you said, pray for discernment, hope for the best and vote with our hearts.

      We know either way, God’s will be done, and when it’s all over, we must continue to pray for wisdom and direction for whoever is in the office of POTUS.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was just reminded yesterday on the way I should pray for the nation’s. Can you imagine what it would be like if we didn’t pray, but gave up and became passive and bitter. Evil would prevail of all kinds. We were created to intercede and stand in the gap. Ours is a unfinished mission of mercy. For us we pray and have hope. For without hope we will fail. Now can you imagine what it would be like if Christians prayed, fervent passionate prayers for the lost and the nation’s. If they stood in the gap for the nation’s. Revival would take place in their own heart’s. They would truly repent. Then God would hear their prayers and heal this land.Revival begins with me. When I get it some one else will get it. Pretty soon many more will get it. Let’s stand in the field with the tares and let revival fire spread.
    I could go on for much is on my heart. I really absorbed this post. It was key on Susan. Let’s all be prayer warriors for Christ.

    Much love Tom

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    1. Oh, Tom. “Revival begins with me. When I get it some one else will get it.”
      Let’s pray for all the candidates and the President, that they will each get it, and pass it along to their constituents.
      Love to you, my sweet brother.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah…if only… very thoughtful post!

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    1. I agree – if only. 🙂

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  8. Amen and Amen. This needs I be published in every newspaper and work place within America. Well said.

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    1. My humble thank you. I only wish the candidates would read it and take it to heart.

      Liked by 1 person

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