This Election And Its Impact On Students

Used with permission: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/american-flag-1150851

Used with permission: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/american-flag-1150851

I feel like I’m late to the game when it comes to saying something–scratch that–ANYTHING about the upcoming election. This has been intentional on my part, not because I’m worried about anyone disagreeing with me, but because I didn’t know how to approach the subject.

Honestly, and I know I’m not alone here, I’m not a fan of either candidate. I know supporters on both sides and I figured I’d write something from the perspective of what I am–a youth pastor. So, here are some thoughts as a youth pastor on what I’ve heard and observed from my students about this upcoming election.

What started as a rather funny and seemingly unreal phenomena has become a reality. I’m talking about Trump. Earlier this year, we played games in youth group like “Trump or Animal,” where we showed a zoomed in picture of yellow hair/fur and had students guess if it was an animal or Trump’s hair. It was hilarious.

We also had funny slides and pictures and changed our weekly “Highs and Lows” to “Trump or Dump.” All of these and more occurred because I don’t think anyone really thought Trump would get the nomination. Every youth ministry site I visit for games and insights did the same thing.

Of course, we poked fun at Hilary too. Her blank stares, funny dances, and awkward attempts to be relevant to this generation. Videos were plentiful on the world-wide web. And we showed them with pride.

Then Trump was the republican frontrunner. And Bernie lost. And we stopped the games.

We didn’t stop them because they were no longer funny per say, but because there was a noticeable change with our students. It just didn’t feel right anymore. This is all the more apparent with the most recent comments and allegations concerning Trump.

I can tell you this–our students do not like Trump. And most of them have expressed they don’t like Hilary, either.

But let’s start with Trump. There’s a pain in their eyes as they talk about him, especially in light of his most recent comments about women.

Trump represents, at least in some small way, some of the pain this generation has grown up with. It’s the pain of authorities who are supposed to be good and true, revealed to be corrupt. It’s hate-filled speech. It’s abuse towards the vulnerable.

I look at our kids, many of whom are latino, and there is anger that our country would select someone who has made racist and hate-filled remarks. I’m angry too.

Our country and our young people deserve better than this.

Then there’s Hilary. “I just don’t trust her” is how one student put it. Yeah, me either I guess. The corruption, the emails, and the list goes on.

Back and forth, jockeying between the two has been painful. The debates were even worse. It just makes you feel a little sad, doesn’t it?

But what really concerns me, more than who is elected in this country, is how the young people I interact with feel about this whole situation. They are despondent and hopeless. Some of them have bemoaned several times–whether by exaggeration or truth–that they don’t want to live in this country anymore depending on who get’s elected.

I hate to say this, but this points to a deeper problem that we’ve created for this generation. This is wrong because as adults, we’ve painted a picture to them of fire and brimstone and apocalyptic decimation. Instead of facing the future resolute and hopeful, they have a marred view of the things to come that we’ve handed them.

Let me be honest for a sec–young people get their cues from us. As parents, coaches, pastors, elders, ahem, EXAMPLES, we need to get real here. And this is all the more apparent if you know Christ. If we’re followers of Jesus and we actually believe the Bible, then our response in all of this should be different.

If we truly believe Jesus is King, then why are living as people with no faith?

I’m tired of kids in my youth group thinking the end of the world is coming with this election. Last time I checked, Jesus is fully capable of keeping things together. In fact, He’s done a pretty good job these past few thousands years.

Let us not be so naive that we lose our focus. We are Jesus-Followers, then Americans. We are citizens of Heaven before we’re citizens of this world.

If Trump or Hilary becomes president, then my response as a Christian who is IN CHRIST is that I don’t care. My life is secure. My name is written in Lamb’s book of life.

I want our young people to look out into this future with hope and life and passion. As Spirit-filled believers, they are part of God’s Kingdom and nothing will stop the movement God has started.

So, as a youth pastor, I’m imploring you to do a couple of things.

First, and please hear this, continue to be passionate about your politics.

I’m not in any way condemning involvement or engagement with the political system. It’s an important thing for all of us and especially for our young people to learn about and process real issues that will affect their lives. They are figuring out how to gain their own opinions and how to question and search for truth. These are important skills to learn.

And politics ARE important. They affect our daily lives. So help them, teach them, and empower them to learn themselves. Please do this.

But secondly, and importantly, please keep things in perspective.

Are politics dominating everything about our lives and conversations lately? Is this the only thing we talk about and post about? I guess I’m wondering if we are acting in a way that is inconsistent with the truth of the Scripture. If we are, let’s take a time out and remember whose world this is.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the greatest election has already taken place–it happened when God elected His Son as our Savior and Redeemer.

We need to help young people boldly face a future regardless of who the president is. We need to remind them of where our true hope and salvation rests. Our hope is not in our earthly leaders; it’s in Jesus.

Faith is not easy. It gets especially difficult in trying times and circumstances and when we’re faced with difficult decisions. The Bible, as our guide, is our life source. But it’s one thing to read it and know it and recite it; it’s another all together to listen to it and obey it.

So this is the “Political” talk I want to give our students.

Pay attention.

Talk about what makes you mad.

Share your thoughts and opinions.

Ask questions and look into things yourself.

Keep learning and be involved in politics.

Care deeply about this beautiful world.

But let’s not forget this important truth: Jesus is King. He’s king no matter what happens on November 8th. And because of that, we get to live with hope and joy and love.

That’s good news. And I’ll preach that message over and over again, no matter what happens over the next month.

Jesus for president 2016.

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1 Comment

  1. Lester LeMay

    Stephen: Thank you for your analysis of the political scene and for pointing out what should be obvious to a Christian — that God is in control. I wasn’t aware of your blog, but would like to read more.
    For myself, I cannot vote in conscience for either candidate, so I am voting for Gary Johnson, Libertarian, not because I agree with all he espouses, but because I think we need to get away from our two party system and Libertarians are the next best choice. But I think we need to pray for Donald and Hillary, that God would change their lives.
    Lester

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