These days, I hear a lot of terrified people speaking in rather alarmist tones about how worried they are about who will be elected our next president. On both sides of the political spectrum. Recently, I heard a pastor on the radio urging people to pray for our nation right now “as we choose our leader.” I knew exactly what he meant — election day is upon us — but in my head I thought, “Oh, I’ve already chosen my leaders.”
Fine. Yes, the president has a lot of power and influence. Whether you want America-as-we’ve-known-it or America-as-we’ve-hoped-it-would-become, both seem equally threatened. And, yes, either going back to America’s bygones or making progress to America’s ‘way forward’ might, indeed, change my life dramatically.
But. You choose who leads you. I mean, you choose who you follow. You choose who you spend your time with and whether or not they are the kind of people you want to be when you grow up. You choose who you listen to. You choose the people whose books you read. Whether actively or passively, you choose the people who influence you. Whether consciously or subconsciously, you can discern their character.
And you do all of this decision-making without a ballot in sight.
And the kind of person each of us is becoming (for better or for worse) has a far greater influence on the world and the direction it is moving than the influence of the one person who gets to live in the White House.
Who have you chosen as your leaders?
My leaders are: a handful of mentors who are a few life seasons ahead of me, my spiritual director, several friends (my age-isn) who know me well and challenge/lead me to continue to become more of who God made me to be, the still quiet voice of God’s Spirit, a half-dozen or so authors in whose books I find repeatedly descriptions of a life with God that is immensely encouraging and profoundly challenging.
Also, I like having leaders, not just one leader. It’s healthy to have an entire community of people influencing and praying for you.
Maybe you think me naive. Fine. But isn’t everyone cynical and terrified every election year? And isn’t almost every election year viewed as the worst ever!? Don’t get me wrong: I am not politically apathetic; I just do not primarily view politicians as being the actual leaders of the world. And so I’m not terrified.
I might not feel absolutely fantastic about whomever is elected this fall. And no matter what I will definitely not attempt a political overthrow.
But I am just not afraid any more. I’ve already chosen who I follow. And they will help me grow, pray, and get through whatever is to come.