We all know this election season has been quite contentious. Name-calling has been the chief earmark of campaigning in 2016 and as parents, I am sure that you, too, have had to shield your children from the circus that our political system has become. On Wednesday we woke up to the reality that Donald Trump will be our next president.
Watching my social media feed this week, I can feel the heartache of parents trying to figure out how to explain these results to their children (although, arguably, the alternative result was not much more promising). We have witnessed a resounding lack of character in Trump, and now he will serve as president of our country for the next four years.
So, how do we help our kids reason through such news? There are many things we do not want our children to emulate in our soon-to-be leader, but instead of dreading these conversations, we need to see them as opportunities to teach our children important biblical doctrines.
1. God is Sovereign Over Every Leader
This is not a new truth. God has been in charge of every person to take office or sit on a throne throughout the history of mankind. We see this illustrated with Moses and the Egyptian king in Exodus. God tells Moses exactly what needs to happen to change the King’s heart, and then tells Moses that He will do exactly that. God changed the heart of the King and saved His people. Paul reminds believers in Rome that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” This presidential election did not take God by surprise. He knew it would happen, and He has a plan for everyone elected on November 8, as well as each one of us.
2. We Must Respect the Office
I was in elementary school when news broke of then-president Bill Clinton having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. I will never forget what my parents wanted me to learn from Clinton’s moral failure, even though I was young: No matter what, he was our president, and we were to respect that fact. While I could understand that Mr. Clinton’s personal decisions had disappointed my parents, his position as the leader of our country meant that we would speak about even his shortcomings in a respectful way.
Romans 13 tells us to respect the authorities that God has placed over us “and those who resist will incur judgment.” We are to submit, and live as law-abiding citizens even if we do not agree with the person behind that title. “Pay to all what is owed them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.”
3. We Are All Sinners in Need of a Savior
The truth of the matter is that not one of us has a right to judge Donald Trump (or any candidate) in regards to his sinfulness. The KJV has the most vivid description of the very best we have to offer God in Isaiah 64:6, comparing all of our good works to “filthy rags.” Before God we all start at the same place as Trump, hopeless sinners in need of a Savior. That is exactly why God sent Jesus Christ. His perfect life, selfless death on the cross and resurrection made it possible for us to stand before God without the filthy rags. God looks upon a person who has asked for forgiveness of their sins and now sees Jesus’ faultless record instead of our own wretchedness. Please have this conversation with your children, over and over again. When they come home from school saying they heard something awful about our president-elect, remind them of the Gospel. Remind them of their own sin, of your own sin, and the reality that we all deserve nothing more than an eternity in Hell. And then you get to share the very best news we have to offer: Jesus saves!
4. Our Job as Believers Has Not Changed
I was challenged this morning by a post from my youth pastor:
Our marching orders have not changed. The tasks Christ called us to were not altered when Donald Trump won. Our kids will face experiences and decisions that concern them for the rest of their days on this earth; our job as parents is to help them know what to do next. When hardship comes, our responsibility to the Kingdom of God remains the same. Galatians 6:9 reminds us “let us not grow weary of doing good.”
5. Prayer is Our Job
I am a lover of justice and I naturally find myself on the warpath on a regular basis. The problem with this natural inclination of mine is that I frequently find myself knee deep in a crusade before it occurs to me that I should have started on those knees in prayer. We will all eventually discover that we cannot make it far without consulting God on a matter. Prayer for Donald Trump, for Mike Pence, for the Supreme Court justice position that will soon be filled, and for our state and local officials is our job. These men and women need our prayers. They need God’s wisdom, and we have the power to petition the God of this universe on their behalf. Add your newest leaders to your family’s prayer list. Talk about them at the dinner table and then take them before the throne of God as you pray together.
While it is tempting to wallow in the state our country finds itself in today, God offers so much more hope than that. We have to teach our kids these truths today so they can make it through the rest of their lives with their eyes fixed on our great God.