Historically, when things like Charlottesville happen, I tend not to speak up or say anything publicly on social media. Not because I didn’t care or did not have anything to say, but because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. That’s something I’m not exactly proud of.
If I’m honest, in the past, I’ve been afraid to speak up in fear that:
- I’ll say something dumb that I didn’t mean to say
- I don’t always know all the facts about a specific situation (not this one particularly, but in general)
- I’m not educated enough to get in the conversation
- I don’t know the solution
However, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me that as a leader and in this case as a human being, it is my responsibility to speak up and stand up and support my brothers and sisters.
When I turned 30, I felt like God dealt with my heart specifically about this issue. He said to me (in my heart, not in an audible voice), “Doug, in your twenties, I laid a foundation in you that you can build your life on. In your thirties, I am going to give you something to say and the platform to say it.”
As I’ve reflected on who God created me to be and the platform He’s given me, I’ve come to recognize that:
- I’m a leader and it matters that I actually lead
- I’m an example whether I want to be or not
- I have influence for a reason and that reason has nothing to do with personal gain, but for speaking up and standing up for others
- People are watching me
I share this because I want others to recognize the same thing about their influence. It matters that all of us lead. The world needs our leadership.
Now more than ever, we need leaders to lead. That includes me. Moving forward, I plan on standing up and speaking up more often when I feel I should. I hope that you will as well.
Why should we speak up?
We’re Commanded to:
Proverbs 31:8-9 says, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.”
This is a call to action for every leader. It’s our responsibility. Let’s take it seriously. (I’m mainly talking to myself here).
James MacDonald recently said, “The greater your influence, the greater your complicity if you don’t call the Charlottesville rally and attack what it really is: A heinous act of domestic terrorism entirely rooted in racial hatred.”
My Thoughts on Charlottesville
When I watched what was happening in Charlottesville, I almost couldn’t believe it. What happened was absolutely disgusting. I can’t imagine that there are people on this planet with that amount of hatred in their hearts. I absolutely agree with James MacDonald that it was, “a heinous act of domestic terrorism rooted in racial hatred” and it is not ok.
All People are Valuable and All Lives Matter
Black lives matter. White lives matter. Democrat lives matter. Republican lives matter. Gay lives matter. Transgender lives matter. Refugee lives matter. Athiest lives matter. All lives matter.
Growing up I was taught to love and accept everyone. I may not agree with the way some people live their lives, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love them and it certainly doesn’t mean I think am better than them. I don’t agree with the way I live my life sometimes! I literally can’t understand hating another human being.
What can we Do?
1. Pray for our Nation
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
At the end of the day, this and all the other crazy things going on in the world is a spiritual battle. Therefore, we need to pray. We need to pray for our country. We need to pray for our world. We need to pray for leaders to stand up and lead. We need to pray for wisdom on how to handle the issues and battles of our days. We need to pray about our part. We need to pray that Christians would all stand up and do what God puts in their hearts to do about the injusitices of our day. We need to pray.
2. Pray for our Enemies
In situations like this, these are probably a few of the hardest scriptures to read and act on:
In Matthew 5:43-48, Jesus said,”You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”
We need to pray for our enemies. At the end of the day, they are lost and are in need of God. As Jesus said about those who crucified Him on the cross, “They know not what they do.” My prayer is that they would get saved, repent, and follow God.
3. Love Our Enemies
Romans 12:17-21 says, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you but conquer evil by doing good.
I often wonder who actually is friends with and has influence with those who are responsible for this evil. I know I don’t have too many friends that are in the KKK.
I recently read an article a friend posted about an African-American man who befriends KKK members. Why does in do that? In his words, “How can you (the KKK) hate me when you don’t even know me? Look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me.”
As a result of his approach, many have left the KKK. I think that’s incredible. If we have the opportunity, we should try to love and lead our enemies to Christ.
4. Be an Example
Now more than ever we need leaders to be examples and models of what is right in our world. We need to teach the next generation and those around us what is right and wrong. It starts with us.
One of my favorite quotes ever is from Tony Evans. He said, “If you want a better world, composed of better nations, inhabited by better states, filled with better counties, made up of better cities, compromised of better neighborhoods, illuminated by better churches, populated by better families, then you’ll have to start by becoming a better person.”
If we want to make the world a better place, it starts with us and our families, then our churches, then our neighborhoods, then our cities, then our counties, then our states, nation, and ultimately the world.
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi
5. Don’t Tolerate Injustice Anywhere
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
I think one reason we get overwhelmed when things like this happen is that we don’t feel like we can do anything to solve the large scale injustices in our world. However, in my opinion, the best way we can make a dent in fixing the large scale injustices is to recognize and do something about the small injustices we see every day.
If you’re a parent, a teacher, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, a youth pastor, an administrative assistant, a principal, a coach, an accountant, and anything else that allows you to have influence in the lives of others, I can’t encourage you enough to never take the influence you have for granted. All of us come in contact with people every day that we have an opportunity to influence for good. We have an opportunity to train up the next generation and shape the people around us.
Here’s the thing, we’re either using our influence for good or we’re using our influence for bad. Not speaking up when you see injustice is not using your influence for good. We all have a part in making this world as it should be.
Andy Stanley often says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” You may not have the influence to stop a large scale injustice like Charlottesville, but you may have the influence to change the life of a young man or woman who years from now may have become someone capable of being a part of what happened in Charlottesville had you not pointed out things in their life that are wrong such as bullying, thinking they’re better than another human being or having no respect for others.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
6. Get in Proximity of People that Are Not Like You and Don’t Think Like You
When’s the last time you spent time with people who aren’t like you? People who are going through things you’ve never gone through? People, who disagree with you? People, who have different views than you?
Before I started working at Light of Life Rescue Mission, I did not know a lot about the homeless. You know what I’ve discovered about them? They’re just like me. In fact, we’re all one or two decisions away from being in the same situation they are in. I’m so grateful that I’ve gotten the opportunity to know the men, women, and children we serve there.
I have a boss who thinks completely different than I do. I affectionately call her “The other side” because I know when I need a perspective that is different than mine, I can ask her what she thinks about a specific situation and she’ll tell me. Her thoughts have made me a better person and have helped me see the world and specific issues in a different light. She’s also the one who is consistently encouraging me to write posts like this. I’m grateful for her.
I want to challenge you and encourage you to find people that aren’t like you and get to know them. Befriend them. Ask them their story. Ask them what it’s like to be them. Ask them how you can help them. Love them.
I believe if you follow this simple exercise, it will change your life and the way you see the world. We all have far more in common than we have differences. We’re all going through this thing called life and the world is always a better place when we go through it together.
I plan on speaking up more in the future about issues that I believe I need to speak up about. I’d love to have a dialogue with you about this. I’d love to hear what you think about this issue and others. What can we do to make the world a better place? How can we come together?
Thoughts? Comment below.