For many Americans the earth starting spinning in the other direction early this past Wednesday morning. Many woke up feeling that their whole world had changed over night. I have lived through 5 elections now, but I have NEVER seen or even heard of one quite like this past election. It is safe to say that our nation has not been this divided since the Civil War. For a year now, our TV screens, tablets, social media, radio etc etc have been bombarded by an avalanche of name calling, ugly ads, uncovered corruption, “secret emails” and “secret tapes.” The anger has boiled over in the ballot boxes and into the streets of our nation. I looked at five major newspaper headlines today, each asking the question, “What do we say to our kids about this election?” Many parents and children’s leaders are mulling that question over. Here are a few thoughts I have, as a parent of 2 children and a children’s pastor, teacher. After this election, Christian adults ARE:

1. Safe people for a child to ask questions, even tough ones. Unless your child is VERY VERY young, you will probably not be able to shield your child from hearing about the election. Both of my children came home from school talking about the lunch discussions with their friends. They saw several ads on youtube channels as well. I do not want my children to hear about it from everyone BUT me. I am deliberately initiating the tough conversations with my children, because I want them to know that I am a safe place to ask those questions. I do not want political questions to be off limits with my kids. With all that has gone on, and is still going on, they will have questions. In fact, we talked about the voting process, their rights and responsibilities as an American citizen. I even took them with me to the polling station so they could see how voting works.

2. Good citizens of whatever nation we live in (Mark 12). We are in the world, not of it, meaning we SHOULD be salt and light in American politics, without letting our culture of greed, anger, corruption taint us. This includes following laws, paying taxes, doing our due service and praying for those in authority.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. …Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.” Romans 13:1-3

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.” (1 Peter 2:13)

“We are also to pray for, and see the peace of the place God has us serving: “And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

Jesus tells us to pay our taxes, and to help out if pressed into service (Mark 12). However, Jesus DID speak up with the governing authorities were mistreating others and abusing power (John 2:13-22, Luke 13:32, Luke 13:1. The Apostle Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship when he was about to be beaten/interrogated illegally (Acts 16:37)

3. Are accountable to GOD first. We are CHRISTIAN Americans, not American Christians. That means that if we must choose between what God has said and what our culture says, we will choose to do what God said. What is legal is not always right and vice versa. For example, slavery used to be legal, but it was still horribly wrong. It used to be legal to beat to your wife, trade your child for a horse etc. etc. The Bible teaches over and over again that we are accountable to God first. The early disciples said it best when they were threatening by the rulers and ordered to stop preaching Christ: “But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” Acts 5:29. The Apostle Peter states, “”Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among outsiders that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:11-12

4. Can be afraid, but choose to put their trust in God. I advise parents to be honest with their children when they are facing someone of great importance. It is a powerful thing for a child to hear their parent say, “Hey, I am scared in this situation too. But I know what the Bible says. And I chose to trust God.”A Good friend of mine put it this way: No matter who is President, God is on the throne. Nothing can change God’s plan as laid out in Revelation. He knows what He is doing. He is loving, and He cares about us so very much.

5. Leads by example. What do the children in my life see in my attitude and actions? Am I showing fear, rage? Am I showing trust, compassion? Our children often grow up to do as we do, not as we say. They may follow our actions right now. How will they react to this election? They are watching you for cues.

6. Prays for our government and for our leaders. EVEN IF THEY WEREN’T the ONES WE WANTED. This is especially hard for us as Americans. But the Bible is clear, “First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers,intercessions, and thanksgiving be offered on behalf of all men 2for kings and all those in authority, so that we may lead tranquil and quiet lives in all godliness and dignity.…” 1 Timothy 2:1. It is very hard to hate someone that you are praying for. I told my children, “I did not pray for our last President as much as I could have. But I am going to pray for whoever our new president is every single day.” And I am going to. And I want my kids to hear me pray. If I spent as much time praying as I have complaining, this nation would be a much better place for my kids.

7. Does not resort to ugly tactics when hurt, angry, confused. Remember, our kids are watching us, learning from us how to react to success and to hurt and to defeat. Are we taunting and teasing? Are we yelling? I believe our kids need to know that hurting others, threatening people, destroying things, demeaning others is never a way to handle emotions. We as parents and teachers have to show our kids a better way. We need to teach our kids to be change agents in this world, and there are right ways and wrong ways to go about effecting change.

That has been my strategy in these tough times- modeling prayer for our government, participation, a (hopefully) better attitude, and a heart willing to seek God’s will and do it.

I am not perfect, and I know I will stumble, but that can be a good lesson too. God using each of us, in our brokenness, to work His will here on earth.

So, have you had “the talk” with your kids about the election? How did it go? What strategies do you recommend?

Praying for God’s peace, compassion and healing in tough times, Trisha

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