April 4, 2014
The California State Capitol community is reeling with the news last week that yet a third State Senator has been indicted this year. Rod Wright of Inglewood was the first, charged with perjury and voter fraud for allegedly not living in his district during a campaign. Then, Ron Calderon of Montebello reportedly accepted bribes from undercover FBI agents. And now, Leland Yee of San Francisco is accused of nothing less than international weapons trafficking and corruption.
Reporters crowd the hallway outside Senator Yee's office last week.
Regardless of their guilt or innocence, all of this serves as another reminder that our government leaders are sinful men and women, as we all are, who are tempted in extraordinary ways.
Temptation has often been a topic of conversation at our weekly Legislators’ Bible Studies. A Senator once explained during our meeting, “The truth is, whatever your greatest temptation is, once you are elected to office there are those who will go out of their way to provide it for you in abundance.” And around the big conference table, one senator and assembly member after another nodded their heads in agreement.
I have personally counseled elected officials who feel the strong pull of adultery, sexual immorality, alcoholism, and deceit. Others struggle with drug abuse, domestic violence, greed, despair, and campaign indiscretion. Of course, arrogance and hubris are rampant and underlie most other struggles. The pull is strong, and even those who know to guard against these temptations can be gradually swept away in the strong tide of the ungodly Capitol culture they find themselves in.
When the public speaks about the fall of a government leader, it is often with a measure of glee that one more crook has been caught. However, when government leaders themselves talk about their colleagues’ failures, even if they are in the opposite party, they don’t usually smile much. For them, it’s more sad, and maybe even a bit frightening. They know those who are trapped by their sin are not the caricatures presented by the media, but are real people, with real families and friends and strengths and weaknesses. They also know that the crimes or sins of others might only increase the distrust the public has towards them. And, though they might not like to admit it, they also know that they are not immune to falling in some area themselves, albeit possibly in a very different way, and that it could be them featured on the news someday.
Those who are wise will heed 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 and seek the Lord daily for His strength. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
So what can you do?
1. Pray for them. God has told us to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1-4). It may be that the unique temptations they face is one reason why they especially need our prayers. You can click here and select “map your elected officials” to enter your address and print out a page with pictures of your elected officials in your area. I encourage you to pray often for their salvation and strength against temptation. A few other helpful prayer resources are online here.
2. Reach out to them. Send them a note or talk to them at an event. Better yet, encourage your church to adopt your elected officials. You may or may not agree with all they are doing, but you can be there for them personally and regularly and may be able to help them to know or grow in the Lord or stay grounded in Him. Contact me if you would like practical suggestions for how to do this.
3. Continue to partner with Capitol Commission as we go to them. This is a team effort, and we are so thankful for your participation with us.
Your Missionary to the California's Leaders,