Well… maybe that’s not too much of a surprise. After yesterday’s post presenting what my ideal candidate might look like, I felt I needed to bring things back down to Reals-ville.

Since the ideal candidate doesn’t exist, what are we to do with our vote? This comes a little late for some of you, because you’ve already cast your vote early – I did the same – but it is still worth pondering, since we’ll be marching right back to our local polling place in the next election cycle.

The “wisdom” I have to share will not be earth-shattering. I’m not claiming some fresh insight or providing a magical equation that spits out a superior voter guide for you to review before casting your ballot. Most of this is just common sense… or at least I hope it is.

Consider your options. Don’t just look at party affiliation or listen to well-crafted commercials. Take time to do a little digging. Sometimes you don’t have to dig too far, but don’t put all your trust the surface level information. Every source has some level of bias.

Pray for wisdom. As stated previously, the ideal candidate doesn’t exist, so pray about it. Ask God to guide you through the process and even as you step up to the voting booth. I’ve never received direct revelation that I should vote for a particular candidate, but that doesn’t mean God isn’t guiding me in more subtle ways. The book of James tells us that if any of us lacks wisdom, we should ask God – so ask God (James 1:5).

Consider the candidates more closely. So, you’re praying about it, and you’ve done a little digging. Dig a little more. If it won’t risk your friendships, ask your friends what they think about a candidate and his or her positions. But don’t just ask friends – ask people outside your circle what they think and how they ended up with their selection. Getting out of the echo chamber of people who think like you can help you get a broader perspective. Don’t enter into these conversations in order to argue or persuade; enter with a listening and learning mindset.

Pray for discernment as you compare where candidates stand with your own biblical convictions. Our praying is not done in a vacuum. In the process of gaining information about the candidates and where they stand, we should also be bringing God’s Word to bear in our contemplation. The fact that a person says they are Christian, quite frankly, is not enough. How do the positions and policy statements made by a candidate line up with your understanding of biblical principles and Christian teaching. The more we know of God’s Word, the better off we’ll be.

Vote. I guess this should go without saying, but exercise your right to cast a ballot in every election you can. You and I have the blessing of living in a nation where we can have a voice in our leadership. Voting is part of our obligation to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Mark 12:7), but it is also an opportunity to influence our government for good. Just as with everything else God has entrusted to you, you are a caretaker of your vote. Use it, and use it well!

Pray for God’s guidance on the victorious candidate – even if it’s not the person you voted for. Having done all you can do, commit to pray for those who will govern in the years to come – even if you didn’t like the election outcome. There are a lot of people praying prior to the election. We need to be just as diligent and committed to prayer after the election. (1 Timothy 2:2)

Trust God. Some of you will be utterly frustrated on the day after the election. You may even be “fit to be tied,” as my grandmother might have said. Others will be overjoyed that the election results went their way. But we must always remember that God is behind the scenes working toward an end. Not everything that happens is good, but nothing is beyond God’s sovereignty. Remember, He uses all things to bring good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). How we respond after the election shows whether we believe Romans 8:28 is true or not.

Because the ideal candidate does not exist, we are left with the daunting task of sorting through truths, half-truths, and outright lies to find the best possible choice. Rarely is the choice between the better of two goods. More often it feels like a choice between the lesser of two evils. But we must take the stewardship of our vote seriously.

Let me add one word of caution – Don’t ever forget your primary purpose here on this earth. Jesus did not commission us to go and win elections or transform public policy. Those are needed, but they are not our mission. Our mission is to go in Jesus’ authority and make disciples of all nations (people groups), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus commanded, while His abiding presence remains with us to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)

How we express our opinions matters. Our lives are to be marked by the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Is that what people hear when you talk about political matters? Do you resort to name-calling and demeaning the opposition candidate over their looks? Do you repost tweets or Facebook posts without bothering to check if they are true? Are your opinions expressed with arrogance and condescension? ? Are you mean-spirited? Check your heart!

Politics is a mean business. It has chewed up and spit out many a well-intentioned person. It has also consumed and transformed countless others into something resembling the world far more than resembling Jesus. Don’t let that be you. In your fervor to get a candidate elected, don’t sacrifice your soul on the altar of politics, and don’t sacrifice your witness in order to win an argument. Remember, there is coming a day when we will give an account for every word we speak.

If you’re eligible to vote, then do so. May God both bless this nation and be merciful to us.

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