I spent two weeks putting up posters, handing out buttons, and frankly shamelessly promoting myself. It was the spring of 6th grade and I entered the tough and rumble political landscape of middle school. My aspiration? Middle School Fire Marshall! To be honest, my campaign began with a suggestion by a friend who for some reason thought I was well suited for the position. Once I heard you got out of class once a week for meeting with the other officers I was sold. Oh, and the primary duty of the Fire Marshall – to help facilitate fire drills.
This little dabble into ‘public service’ set me on a trajectory of numerous occasions where my name has been placed on the ballot for a whole variety of offices. And through the years my entire perspective has changed. In the beginning I clearly did so because of what I thought I would get out of it: hall pass, notoriety, having my say in what I wanted at school. Yet in time, a little maturing, being exposed to the ugly side of politics, and serving with true servant leaders, I moved from personal aspirational gain to invitational gift offering.
The question I always ask when someone encourages me to put my name forth for anything is, “What gifts do you see in me that you believe would be beneficial to this work?” It is also the same question I ask myself when I look at who I’m going to support – for anything.
This next week millions of us will be casting our ballots for a whole array of candidates. Leading up to this critical responsibility we all have been bombarded by endless messages about who we should vote for. The primary consistent theme is how awful the other person is, and as such, how they will ruin our community, school district, county, or country. What we rarely hear about is what are the actual gifts of the person who is running for office? The predominant narrative appears to be based solely on the deficits of the other candidates rather than the assets of what one brings to the work.
Makes me wonder…What if we took a time out from all the political lambasting and spent time really learning about the candidates? Why are they running – is it only for personal gain? What are their demonstrated gifts – are they now using or ever have used their gifts for the common good? In the frame of ‘let your life speak’ – does this person live a life of integrity, authenticity and respect?…Will they strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Imagine…Imagine…Imagine if we all cast our votes on who we really understood the candidates to be as humans and the gifts they bring.