Minister to Local Officials: Let Your Light Shine in Local Government

In a city where city hall sat in the shadow of no less than 3 church steeples, I often found it odd that local congregations weren’t more involved with their local leaders. As an employee of local government, I would handle dozens of daily correspondence for local officials. Emails and letters from local organizations, schoolchildren, and concerned citizens were often present. Communications from local churches or believers offering encouragement or help—well, those were few and far between.

It would be difficult to pin down an exact explanation as to why more believers weren’t reaching out to their local officials. Perhaps they were too busy with the goings-on of their church’s event calendar or they simply didn’t want to be involved. Then there is the sneaking suspicion that many believed the lie that because of their religious convictions, they wouldn’t be heard. What a tragedy it would be if believers neglected to pray for and encourage local officials.

It’s a tough job and one I’ve experienced from a couple of different angles. As a political reporter, I was one of many who asked hard questions of our local leaders—questions they were expected to answer with accuracy and aplomb. Then, as a government worker, I was often required to give those answers, a job I found infinitely more difficult. Many people don’t or won’t understand the nature of public service—you can’t make everyone happy.

It’s for these reasons and many more that we need to minister to our municipal, county, and state officials. Here are a few ideas to get you and your group started:

  • Provide a meal during budget season. Each year, local officials must approve a fiscal budget, a task that often involves late nights, slashed benefits, and the potential for public backlash. They often hold special meetings. Work with your local government’s administration to provide a meal or at least a dessert for these meetings. Remember to send a letter telling the governing body you are praying for it.
  • Don’t complain. Many city officials dedicate a portion of their regular meetings to public comment. These times are often filled with citizen concerns or complaints. Imagine the blessing your local officials would get if your group showed up specifically to say you were praying for local issues.
  • Send words of encouragement. With the advent of digital communication, it takes mere minutes to fire off an email to your local official. In a sea of memos, citizen complaints, and a host of other information, your words could speak life to his or her day.

Become a trustworthy voice for your community. Perhaps nothing is as important to a local official as having a community member who is upfront and wise with his or her opinion. Your witness of Christ can extend into public policy, and your voice should be represented. Let the Holy Spirit guide you as you gently encourage your local leader to consider your side. That leader will be grateful for your sage advice.

Jamie H. Wilson is a freelance writer from upstate South Carolina. Her roles as both a political reporter and a government employee have taught her to lift up local officials as well as their constituents in daily prayer.

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