Pastor, Stay out of Politics
We live in politically tense times.
OK, that may be the understatement of the century.
It seems that hardly a day goes by without a politician or party making headlines. Of course, the frequency and reach of these stories (true or false as they may be) is only exacerbated by social media. Every day my social media feeds are filled with people sharing, liking, commenting on politically charged issues. The temptation for me to weigh in is almost constant.
I’m intrigued by politics and certainly have an opinion on it. I follow the news, read my share of articles, and enjoy a good debate on the issues with my close friends. However, I made a personal decision a couple years back that has proven wise for me - as a pastor, I stay out of politics.
For me, that means I don’t speak openly for or against politicians/parties, I avoid interacting with politically charged topics online, I will not join/support/or align with any party, and I certainly don’t tell people who to vote for.
That belief was put to the test this past fall.
A man in our congregation approached me one Sunday morning after I had preached and asked me directly who he should vote for in the upcoming American presidential election. The question caught me off guard, partly because I’d never had someone ask me directly who they should vote for, and mostly because I’m a Canadian serving at a church in Canada. This man was an american expat preparing to mail in his ballot and was in obvious turmoil over what was unfolding in his home country.
Honestly, part of me saw an opportunity - I could (kinda) have a vote in the US election! The rest of me remembered that I was a pastor. I listened to the man explain his concerns and ultimately we simply prayed together for wisdom, discernment, and for God’s blessing on the United States.
Did I have an opinion about who he should vote for? Yup, I sure did. So, why not just share that? Because, I’m not trying to get people to align with my politics, I’m trying to get them to align with my saviour.
The moment I take a stand on a political issue as a pastor those that agree with me will draw closer and cheer me on. But, those that disagree will simply walk away - and I’m not willing to lose the chance to reach someone with the Gospel over politics.
For the record, I’m not scared of offending people. Truth be told, I kinda enjoy it. It’s just that politics isn’t worth it. Whatever weight my role as a pastor gives to my opinion I want to use to make Jesus famous, not some politician.
I’ll always encourage people to get informed and to vote. It’s a right and privilege that we should not take for granted. I’ll happily remind people of the things God has commanded us in regard to our leaders: to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-2), respect them (Romans 13:1), and obey the laws of our land (1 Peter 2:13-17). I’ll remind people that, as Christians, our leader is Jesus, and our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).
Beyond that, I’m staying out of it.