Friday, May 27, 2011

Not running

Well, this past month has seen a few official announcements regarding next year’s Presidential Election in the United States. News releases ranged from the ridiculously obvious: President Obama is running for re-election (gee, name the last President that didn’t run? none in my lifetime); to the curious: Mitch Daniels might have had a change; to the relieving: Donald Trump? Really? Are we that stupid?

One other announcement was that Mike Huckabee was not going to run. I think that’s a good decision by him, for a variety of reasons. I think Hillary Clinton has announced that she’s not running, but that’s not surprising: sitting President in her own party? President Obama would have to do something stupid in the eyes of Democrats for her to do that (it’s kind of a given that, as President Bush was consistently mocked by Democrats, President Obama is mocked by Republicans).

Well, back in 2008 I had stated that I would run for President in 2012. At the moment, I want to announce that I have changed my mind. I will not be running for President this time (or next time).

Why not?

1.) I don’t want to.

That’s it. I know with a numbered list, you expect more, but there’s no more. To run for President these days invites such an intrusion into your life, the life of your family and friends, that you shouldn’t do it if you don’t want to.

Now, why do I think you care?

There are several ways to make a decision. As Christians, we make decisions based on our faith and what we consider to be the leadership of God Almighty. How we discern that matters, and I want to use my decision not to run for President as an illustration:

1. Our decisions must not run directly opposite the Word of God. Murder, theft, adultery are never what Christians ought to be doing. There are more complex ethics related to wartime---I do not find it “unChristian” to shoot Osama bin Laden, for example, but that’s a longer post for another day.

2. Our decisions must run along things we are directly commanded to do. That’s right, even under the New Covenant of “grace” and “free-will” there are commands for followers of Christ.

3. Our decisions ought to include wisdom from the combined witness of Scripture. For example, Scripture does not explicitly forbid running down the middle of interstate, but the wisdom of Scripture, that life is precious, shows us that we ought not do so.

4. Our decisions ought to be driven by what we are created to do. That includes the big picture: created for God’s glory; and the little picture: what are your natural talents? For example, I can’t sing---so I can’t decide that God wants me to go on American Idol and win. I’m not made for that. I’ve thought about Last Comic Standing or Next Iron Chef, but so far, not yet…

So, how does not running for President fit?

1. Scripture does not forbid a Christian from seeking to influence or even direct the secular government. Again, there are complex ethics related to how, but a simple look does not demand avoiding the process.

2. Scripture does not explicitly command me to run. I am commanded to make disciples, to assemble with believers for encouragement, and to love my neighbor as myself. So, I don’t have to do it.

3. Scriptural wisdom speaks to being honorable, but being careful about being involved with kings. Also, about the king needing to be very wise and very patient. I’m not very patient and am often not wise---even though we’re not talking king.

4. Finally, what am I made for? In seeking God’s glory---how does a small-town pastor trying to run for President glorify God? My family and my church need me more than that. My skills and talents, beyond that, are not what the country needs right now. I am not made for running a country. I’m an academic-type, and academic-types sometimes have trouble with the real world.

So, how about you?

How are you making decisions? Do you just take what comes? Do you have any other suggestions about how to choose what you’re doing?



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