Anyone that knows me has rarely if ever heard me talk about politics. Over the years I’ve heard many imply that preachers and politicians have a lot in common. Honestly, I have never liked the comparison, but I will admit that I can see some comparision. Personally, I have never felt like I was trying to win man’s approval or was I trying to make a name for myself. All I know and still know is that God has called me to be a pastor and I accept that responsibility. Now, I will admit that I have watched a good bit of this year’s republican and democratic conventions for probably the first time in my life. And, though I am still praying and processing my vote, several things stood out that I feel preachers, politicians, and any professing Christian needs to hear.
#1: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
When people look into your eyes they want to see your heart. They want to know that you genuinely care about them. People are surrounded by people who just use them and treat them like they don’t really matter. As Christians we are ordered by God to love others as ourselves. This love is more than a sales pitch, more than a kind gesture, but an ongoing display of genuine love for mankind. It’s ok to say you don’t like everything others do, but love for someone is not an option. There has never been a time and there will never will be a time that love doesn’t matter. People matter to God and they should matter to us. Your love for people should always trump your opinion of people.
#2: No one likes to be force fed the truth.
I don’t have to tell anyone that there is a huge disconnect between most churches and their surrounding communities. Some would say it’s just the signs of the times. Others would say it’s because churches have not kept up with today’s times. Now, I would not argue that either one of those haven’t played a part of the problem. But, here is something that I know is a barrier. Anytime, Christians, Preachers, or Politicians seek to force their beliefs upon someone else it rarely works in a positive fashion. I know countless people who grew up feeling they were forced to abide by certain religious practices that to this day want nothing to do with those practices or those people. This has nothing to do with whether there was truth to what they were taught or that these were intended for their good. The bottom line is your approach to carrying any message to another matters a lot. For example, when I preach I never back down from telling the truth regardless of my audience. I preach what I best interpret the Bible has to say about life and eternity. However, I never do so without laying a foundation of clear love for people and that I am speaking on behalf of God. It is time for us each to realize that the truth will not and should not change. But, the way we deliver most truth to others must! We must do so with grace, understanding, compassion, and a Christ like love. And, then once we’ve spoken the truth and the facts, leave the choice of accepting that truth to others.
#3: Trust is built over time.
I’ve always believed that I must earn the right to be heard by someone. Some people are quick to trust anyone, but most of us have been burned over time. We all walk around with scars and even some open wounds from past hurts and disappointments. Trust must be built and can’t be bought. Whether a politician, preacher, or Christian we have to gain people’s trust before we can expect anyone to listen to our message. This is built through the display of true character, compassion, and consistency over time. Remember, building trust is a process, not an event. We must all do the little things that will make a big difference when it comes to earning the trust of those we hope to lead.
#4: People want hope, not more chaos. Many people won’t listen to any debates because they’ve heard enough politic bashing over time. Many people won’t walk into a church because they’ve seen as much chaos within the church as they have outside the church. Many don’t want what most professing Christians have because their lives and lifestyles appear more chaotic than theirs. Not that life is full of butterflies and sunshine, but people are looking for hope. In the midst of chaos and great stress people are looking for hope. People are looking for a reason to wake up another day and look forward to the future. Often times we are heard more for what we’re against than what we are for in this life. Our greatest words of hope are covered by chaos and criticism of one another.