Leading in a Divisive Political Season
Well, it has started. The 2024 political season is underway and you can expect it to be quite impassioned. During this time, it's important to approach inevitable political divisions with certain principles in mind. As ministers of the gospel, it's crucial to be guided by biblical truth rather than getting caught up in political rhetoric or personal opinions. Your role as a pastor is to lead, shepherd, and equip people with a biblical worldview, especially in times when families within your church may be divided over political issues. It's essential to be sensitive to people's perspectives and offer them hope through the eternal message of the gospel.
Additionally, understanding important issues like the sanctity of life, religious liberty, biblical justice, marriage and family, and court appointments can help your discussions and engagement be more informed with the political landscape. As we wade into the waters of this next election, I’d encourage you to adopt a position that is biblically centered, people sensitive, issues conscious, and hope filled.
There is no lack of opinions on political issues. From tweets to op-eds, you can find opposing perspectives on just about anything. Though it is tempting to be reactive, don’t be defined by a combative spirit. Being biblically centered means aligning your words and your actions with Christ, even in the midst of political engagement.
As believers, we come under the authority of scripture and must approach the political process through its lens. I encourage you to keep the substance of your speech bathed in biblical truth instead of political rhetoric. While Scripture is not party specific, it is clear in its command for all conversation to be gentle and respectful. As Proverbs 25:15 states, “Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” Keeping a biblically-centered perspective will minimize division within the Church during this emotionally-charged time.
As a pastor, you're called to lead people, to shepherd them, and to equip them with a biblical worldview. It is likely that families in your church are divided over political issues and they need a pastor — not a political ally. Using political rhetoric in place of Scripture undermines this leadership role. Look, God’s will permeates every aspect of life. Jesus made our focus clear in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
To foster respectful and constructive dialogue within the body of Christ, it is important to actively listen, practice empathy, and intentionally love even amidst disagreements. Political conversations become more sensitive during an election year so remember to stay mindful of your timing and your context when choosing to engage in such dialogue. Remember, government can’t save someone — only God can — so, the goal is not to change someone’s mind but to show the love and compassion of Christ during this divisive season.
There are certainly real issues for which we need a biblical understanding. These issues will loom large in the upcoming elections and include vital concerns such as the sanctity of life, religious liberty, biblical justice, marriage and family, and court appointments.
Politics can often become synonymous with popularity but, as Christians, we are called to prioritize candidates who align with biblical views. Educating yourself about candidates, their policies, and their track records can help maintain clarity when rumors and slander start to create confusion.
No political party or candidate is perfect and blind loyalty without prayerful evaluation can lead to idolism instead of informed voting.
At the end of the election we, as Christians, know that our hope is not in a political party and not in a president. The hope we have is an eternal destination which means that this life and the things of this world are temporary. It is easy to develop tunnel vision during an election season, but keeping our eyes focused on Christ allows us to maintain hope even in the most hopeless of circumstances. As pastors, it is our job to share this message of hope with our congregations as well.
In a day where politics is known for its cynics and critics, people don't need another loud voice or a stronger argument, they need a confident hope. As pastors, we can point people to the hope of the gospel. One day, Christ will return and will rule and reign over a new earth in which all sin and sickness will be cast out. Focusing on this Kingdom to come helps us prioritize eternal values over political agendas. His plans transcend any human political system and He will continue to be God no matter what this election brings. Jesus Christ is King, is my rallying cry this political season.