“My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion;” Proverbs 3:21(NIV)
I typically refrain from writing or weighing in too much on politics. As a pastor, my greatest concern is not the function of the United States government – though I certainly stay informed – or to campaign for any particular candidate, but to shepherd the people of God. The inner-workings and happenings in political life can often be insightful about the spiritual life, especially as it pertains to character. So please allow me this brief soirée to connect the character of politicians to our own.
Politicians have always been shady. There has always been questions about their integrity and authenticity. The Richard Nixon Tapes revealed just how two-faced and conniving our government leaders can be. But we are experiencing interesting times. The political winds these days would be better categorized as tornados, and Dorothy and Toto have been sipping lattes in Munchkinland for quite a while.
The character of our politicians has, in my lifetime, never been so low. It does’t matter which party you want to point to. Donald Trump is an egotistical maniac whose only bright spot is the orange spray tan he gets weekly at Trump Tanning Salon. Hillary Clinton is a puppet – no offense to puppets – who cannot be trusted to do the right thing any more than O.J. Simpson on parole. Newt Gingrich has been notoriously unfaithful to his wife wives. Elizabeth Warren wants us to believe she’s a descendent of Chief Dragging Canoe, because her granny remarked she had high cheek bones. President Obama…I’m not even going to start on Barry.
This brings me to my focus, Attorney General Loretta Lynch. I’m sure she is a swell lady. But she recently did one of the most undiscerning things imaginable. She was the final authority on whether or not to press charges on Hillary Clinton – the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee – over the email scandal. Clinton has used a private email server as Secretary of State, leaving top secret information exposed to hackers. She has also lied about many aspects of it.
Being in this position, with the importance of integrity and non-political tampering at stake, you would think AG Lynch would be very careful with what she does. You would think. However, Loretta Lynch met privately with Bill Clinton – the husband of Hillary Clinton and former President. Perhaps I underestimated the amount of thinking that happens in Washington.
There was an immediate media firestorm. In one of the few moments of political clarity, both sides of the aisle called this meeting completely inappropriate. Lynch responded to the criticism by saying it was all personal talk, discussions about grandkids and whatnot. Yes, and if you believe that, you also likely believe LeBron James’ hairline is doing just fine. This was a bad move by Lynch. How bad is the disconnect from Lynch and her actions? In an interview following the brouhaha, Lynch said, “The most important thing for me as the Attorney General is the integrity of this Department of Justice.” This is what my grandma would have called, “A stinker.”
When I heard this story, my first thought was, “Really, how did you not see this as a conflict of interest and just really dumb?” These are not dumb people. You do not get to the top of the political class in the most powerful nation in the world and be dumb – at least intellectually. What is lacking is wisdom and discernment. So many of these political knuckleheads lack discretion. Lynch should have heard alarms and saw the red flags as Bill stepped into the private jet. If she did, she didn’t listen.
As I think about all this madness, I ponder my own actions. Am I using wisdom and discretion in my actions and words? One misspoken word, one inappropriate action, can not only cost me influence, but can do damage to the name of Christ and witness of the Church. I have watched as so many pastors, and Christians at large, post stuff on social media that would cause people who know they are Christian to raise their eyebrows. I’ve seen pastors and leaders treat congregants in ways that lack wisdom and sound judgment. In other words, the moment I’m tempted to slam the gavel on Lynch and the rest of Washington, I remember I am just as capable.
The writer of the proverb reminds us to not let wisdom and understanding out of our sight. We must stay on guard. If we let our guards down, we can naively fail to connect the dots between our actions and the consequences, our actions and the perception they create. We must seek Christ daily, depending upon the Holy Spirit who lives in us, to make wise and discerning choices. To preserve sound judgment and discretion, we must lean fully on God, not ourselves. We want our communication with people, our social media interactions, and our behaviors, to be filled with wisdom and discernment. We want people to see our character and conclude we belong to Christ, not see a chasm between our lives and the Bible’s teachings and conclude, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”