A short while ago ago I was invited to stand in the local borough elections for the Benhall and The Reddings ward in Cheltenham. The elections took place last on 22nd May and I received 594 votes. My opponent received 1188 votes so clearly I did not win. However, I don’t feel like I lost either. I learned so much and gained so much and I can honestly say that it was well worth it. I will definitely stay involved. Today I would like to share some of the valuable things that I learned with you:
Politicians are Real People
Local politics is often confused with national politics. Yes in theory we are all one party but in reality the local councilors have little if any contact with the national leaders. We might get to meet one or two national leaders but we are unlikely to become their best friends and change the country with them. So what I want to focus on is our perception of local politicians and the simplest way that I can describe a local councilor is that they are very much like pastors. The only difference really is that the message – everything else is pretty much the same. Pastors and local councilors have to lead their community to the best of their ability, take care of some of their needs, get to know them, stay visible in the community, offer advice when necessary, have a listening ear and share the message of what they stand for.
Local councilors and often pastors (but not always) are unpaid, are expected to be all things to all men, are often criticised for what they get wrong, often feel like they don’t do enough but on the positive side have a very rewarding role in the community.
Have you ever seen a politician that way? Some politicians, just like some pastors, abuse the power they have been entrusted with and make a mess of things giving all the good politicians and pastors a bad name.
* I am not diluting the gospel by making this comparison, the message of the pastor is OF COURSE the most important thing. I was merely comparing the type of person it takes and the type of work they have to do.
There is no way that you can be a local politician and not care about people. It simply won’t work and you won’t get elected. It’s that simple. I have observed the local politicians and found them all to be absolutely wonderful and caring people. I am sure the not so nice ones exist but I have not met one yet. My perspective on politicians has changed radically and I hope what I have to say will help you with your views too. To be a politician you really do have to care about a cause, about local issues and about people.
Politics and Ministry
So how did politics help me in ministry? Well…. if I had known that I would be required to go door to door and speak to people as well as make hundreds of phone calls I might not have stood in the recent election! However, having been ‘forced’ to just get on with it I learned a valuable lesson. You see, talking to people about politics on their door step is probably the most difficult and most scary thing I have ever had to do. If you think sharing your faith is difficult, try sharing your political views – some people can get very angry and rude. One person chased me off his lawn like I was a dog making a poo on his grass!
After doing all I had to do to win votes I realised that I have neglected doing so much to win people to Jesus because I was too afraid and too worried about what people would think. Now that I have done what I deem to be the worse sort of door knocking I think I will now find it much easier to talk to people about Jesus. I now know how I would do it, what I would say and I would have a great deal more compassion for people when saying it.
The biggest part of knocking up was to simply listen to what people had to say rather than tell them my views. Perhaps if I knocked on someone’s door to tell them about Jesus I would simply ask them to share their views with me and listen…. who knows what I would do next, I guess the Holy Spirit will lead specifically each time. The bottom line is that politics has helped me in my ministry to the lost and I will never be the same again, for this I am truly grateful.
Politics and Business
Being forced to use the phone to make hundreds of phone calls shattered all my phone fears for once and for all. Where the phone had once been a big deal it is now an ordinary part of my business day. If I had not been involved in politics it is likely that I would still be avoiding the phone today. After about the 20th phone call I quickly learned some technique and started to love how much time the phone was saving me as each phone call made meant it was one less house I had to visit. A lesson I should have learned ages ago in business. Each phone call I now make means one less coffee appointment I have to travel to, one less appointment in my diary, one less hour lost. Not that I don’t love coffee appointments but how many can you realistically have in a week and of those how many would turn into a client?
There is so much more I could say but this post is getting rather long now. I just wanted to share some of my life changing experiences with you. Try not to say no too much to new experiences in life, you never know how God will use them to mould and shape you. I am changed forever but my political experience and I am so grateful for all I have gained.
So yes, I lost the election but I won so much more! What do you need to get involved with what you have perhaps been avoiding?