Aired on April 08, 2010
Narration by Mike Lacanilao.
Every time elections come around, we have politically active Christians running for public office. Some of them are of the Christian community. Indeed, there ARE Christians called to serve in public office, as with any other vocation. IF a person is called and equipped for public service, then choosing to run for office is a GOOD thing.
Some candidates may automatically assume that if elected, their faith will work wonders and transform the government. This assumption might lead them to believe that they deserve our unconditional support. But even (maybe especially) for Christian politicians, they need to work hard to earn the people’s trust and support. So, before running for office, a Christian should spend much time in careful reflection and prayer.
An aspiring public servant must consider several factors. First, does he or she have the gifts for serving in public office. Governance is complex. It is a job that requires more than mere “righteousness” or good intentions. A true public servant must have character, political savvy, the right training and experience. A qualified candidate must possess organizational, social, and communication skills. Most of all, the candidate must be able to articulate a clear vision for the country or the community.
The role of the Church, therefore, as a community of prayer is important in helping people discern their calling to public life.
Even with the prayer and support of the Church, it is still a great challenge for a Christian to serve in government. Even a Christian politician runs the risk of being corrupted by the very system they seek to change. Yielding to these temptations would damage both the politician’s witness and the reputation of the Church. So the moral and ethical standard for Christian politicians should be higher than others. They should avoid all appearance of evil. They should live above suspicion. The role of the Church here is to hold the public official accountable, to keep his or her words, actions and policies consistent with the standard of Scripture.
In addition, even if a Christian politician retains his or her values, this will not guarantee that his or her personal faith will transform the secular bureaucracy. A Christian public official may at times be a lone voice standing for truth and righteousness.
Finally, the risks can be even greater when leaders of the Church run for public office. Unlike Christians who are professional politicians, leaders of the church are perceived to be voices of their churches. For them to become public servants could tend to blur church and state boundaries. A leader of the church may be pulled to only serve his own particular religious group rather than serving the interests of the nation as a whole. Such a bias could prove to be more divisive than uniting. And if a church leader fails, people tend to see it also as the failing of the whole church.
So, a Christian desiring to run for public office (especially a Church leader) must be sure that he or she is called by God to do so. And a Christians motive must never be power or position, but service. Rather than trying to seek power, the Church and her leaders must follow Jesus’ example of leadership as servanthood. The church as an institution is called to serve, not rule a nation.
That one is a Christian is in itself no guarantee that one would necessarily govern wisely, or that one would be effective and make a difference once elected. Serving the nation well requires discernment, political skills, and prayer. There are complexities, risks and challenges involved. Politics is an arena where to truly follow in the footsteps of Christ, one will need to be ready to give up one’s selfish ambitions, one’s interests, even devote one’s life, to genuinely serve the many.