This is the second election for my girls while in elementary school. They vividly remember participating in a mock election at school four years ago and will even tell you who they voted for and why. As we talked about the upcoming election, I asked if they discussed it much at school and they both said no. I wasn’t really surprised, but that did make me think of how very different the political climate is. This political season is filled with words and topics and phrases that we try to shield our children from. Additionally, adults in our nation are so stressed over the election that organizations such as the American Psychological Association are addressing the issue. This season has to be very confusing to the children observing the process.
I always encourage parents to have the hard and awkward conversations at home so that your kids will hear your perspective and what Scripture says about topics before they start developing opinions based on what they may or may not hear on the playground. Even though the temptation is to completely shield our kids from what is currently happening in the political realm, I believe there are at least five worldview lessons we can affirm with our children during this season. Russell Moore posted a great article on this topic. I also wanted to share five spiritual lessons that I want my girls to learn during this season.
- People can disagree and that’s OK. We believe that God made every person in His image, however He did not make them identical. People may disagree with you. You may feel that their opinions don’t make any sense at all. That doesn’t mean that we hate them for having that different opinion. Somewhere in this election cycle we have lost that value. People on all sides tend to view people on the “other” side as enemies and many other not nice words. Hebrews 12:24 says, “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.” People are not going to see the Lord through our venomous words or personal attacks. I’m grateful to live in a country where we can voice different opinions. As believers, though, our calling is to express our opinions in gentleness and in love. My personal paraphrase of Hebrews 12:24 might be something like, “People can’t see Jesus in you if you’re being a jerk.”
- Words matter—even if they were a long time ago. As my girls have tiptoed into very light entry levels of social media, one of the lectures I repeat is that what they choose to say online never goes away. While they may never run for president (though both of my older girls are planning on it), their words and attitudes really do matter and really make a difference. There is a reason that God warns so much against gossip, slander and idle talk. What you say, even in “joking” or private “just between friends,” matters just as much as your actions. That point has been well made the past few weeks with the presidential candidates. Beyond the damage words might do to others, God takes our speech very seriously. Matthew 12:36 reminds us of this truth, “I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”
- We live in a broken world that really needs Jesus. Recently I read an article that reminded me that we are a government of self-representation. So like it or not, these candidates that have been chosen do reflect the country that we live in. As many question how these could possibly be the best choices we have, the truth is they do quite honestly reflect the culture we now live in. In a country where morality is a low priority, we should not be surprised by the moral quality of candidates we have representing us. That being said, let it be a reminder to us that our country and our world are in desperate need of salvation that a politician can not bring. Our hope does not lie in healthcare reform or economic restructuring. Those are temporary solutions to temporary problems. People who are hurting in our country need a hope that will last into eternity. Let us remind our children that the hurt and anger and desperation they may sense in people today are all indicators of a world that desperately needs a firm foundation and a knowledge of a God who loves them desperately.
- Be anxious for nothing. Pray about everything. Remember in Jerry Maguire when that cute kid said, “Bees and dogs smell fear”? Kids also sense fear and anxiety in the adults around them. As believers in the one true God, let’s model Philippians 4:6-7 for our children, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
- Our future ultimately does not rest on any candidate. Let’s be cautious of communicating to our children that doomsday is coming based on the outcome of the election. God is not surprised by any of this and it is not outside of His control. Romans 13:1 is clear in saying, “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God.” I expect that our country is headed for more division and more ugly, regardless of which side wins. Let’s begin coaching our children now to trust that God is all-powerful, sovereign and good so that our families can be bright lights in what is likely to continue to be a dark time. Yes, there is much to be concerned about. But my prayer is that we can model for our children that we have a hope that extends beyond what the media says and the muck of politics.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
This article originally appeared here.