By David Spickard
After hearing the news this Wednesday morning, I knew we had to change course. The day could not be business as usual. Wednesdays are normally staff meeting days at Jobs for Life (JfL). Our meeting schedule included our normal routine – prayer, Scripture study, and business – but we had to add one more item…
Responding to the election.
I think it’s instinct to run to others who agree with us. That’s why we’ve seen marches, protests, and desperate social media comments this week.
What we needed though was someone to hear us, not to fuel our emotions but to be there just to listen to them. No judgment, no need for answers, just quiet listening.
My mind raced to try to figure out how to guide our team. We’re adamant at JfL to remain politically neutral. I did not want us to talk in such a way that we’d end up endorsing one candidate or party over the other.
We are Jesus and His Kingdom centered, not politically centered.
Among the 17 of us on our team, I’m pretty sure we voted differently from one another. And we voted based on what we believed was best and in line with the convictions of our faith.
And yet, this was no ordinary election. People needed to process the outcome.
I decided to have us discuss just two questions:
What do you believe God is saying to you?
What do you believe God is saying to us?
Over the next hour, we never got past the first question. People poured out their hearts and some their tears. With a group like ours, half male and half female and racially diverse, it can be difficult to be vulnerable. We can be afraid to say what we really think at the risk of being misunderstood or judged.
Not this morning, though. This time was different.
Here is some of what we heard from one another:
- God is challenging me that this is something He is doing and part of His plan.
- I need to experience deeper silence with Him.
- God is a God of justice and grace. We can’t let anger and hate rob us.
- I don’t want to sin but hatred is knocking at my door and it feels like the Cross is not enough.
- I have to submit myself to the authority God has established and not rebel against it.
- We need to face our brokenness to heal from it. It scares me that it will get worse before it gets better.
- I’m disheartened, but thankful for the Gospel.
- I feel like we got punked.
- I wish I knew what God was saying to me. I don’t know why I’ve experienced more racial tensions as a grown up than I had as a child.
- We need to come together and pray and support our new president.
- The Gospel is good and God is on His throne but I hear stories of genuine fear families are experiencing. God hears the cries of the oppressed.
- I don’t want to make the mistake of minimizing the pain.
- Truth comes before reconciliation.
- Like Jeremiah 6:14, it’s hard to say peace, peace, when it feels there is no peace.
Some who did not like the outcome of the elections were forthright in their disappointment. Saying God is sovereign and on His throne actually felt trite. Others expressed hope while trying not to minimize what those they love were feeling. All mourned the divisiveness that’s resulted in our country as a result of the election process.
Even though we come from different views and perspectives, we opened our minds and hearts to really hear our brothers and sisters.
Once no one had anything else to say, we canceled the rest of our meeting agenda and spent the remainder of our time in prayer.
Moments like this make me realize this is what we are trying to create as an organization – providing space for people with differences to come together and understand one another. If we want to see true healing when it comes to poverty, joblessness, race, abuse, and other injustices, we need to create opportunities for people who feel they do not have a voice to be heard.
If we want to see reconciliation, we must listen.
When we do, differences unite, people forgive, and hearts are transformed.
That is how we move forward – together.
David Spickard is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Jobs for Life (JfL), a global non-profit organization that engages and equips the local church to address the impact of joblessness through the dignity of work. He lives in Raleigh, NC with his wife, Alice, and their four children.