Right now, many American cities are preparing for municipal elections, which will take place during the next two months. Colorful candidate signs are planted strategically at major intersections to attract the attention of busy drivers on their way to work or the car line at school. In some communities, political hopefuls manage chaotic calendars as they seek to be seen at local festivals, religious services and other local gatherings. The same activities are playing out on a larger scale as presidential contenders hit the campaign trail.
What has become all too clear in the current political climate is that candidates are just seeking higher offices. They want power. School boards want the power to ban curriculum they deem to be controversial. State legislatures are using power to redraw voting districts to maintain control. One reason the quest for power results in such rancorous politics is that in the world’s systems, power is a zero-sum game. You either have it or you don’t.
What do pastoral leaders need to think about as we prepare to lead congregations through what will surely be another divisive election season? How do you speak a prophetic truth and offer the hope of the gospel? For starters, we need to understand what true power looks like and how to help others discover their power. Christians are not called to stand against power. We are called to embody a different kind of power.
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Before you go…
“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.”
James Baldwin, “No Name in the Street”
Baldwin put his finger on something important. Power exponentially increases whatever it touches. Too often Christian leaders eschew power in the name of being holy. But I don’t think that’s what we’re called to do. We’re called to be transformed by the indestructible power of a good and gracious God, and to be agents of God’s goodness and graciousness in the world.
Our people are constantly being told what power looks like. They hear about military power, political power and economic power. As you prepare to stand in the pulpit yet again, tell them about a different kind of power — Jesus Christ, God’s gift for the redemption and reordering of the world.
Feel free to reach out to me and the Alban Weekly team at email@example.com. Until next week, keep leading!
Editor, Alban at Duke Divinity