Today’s morning worship included an outward focused action we want to start doing more – writing letters of thanks to leaders taking a stand for righteousness and justice. We want to minister encouragement proactively, as well as speak up with challenge… why is the former harder always harder to do?
All week we’ve been praying particularly for leaders, influencers and powerful people.
Partly because it’s our rotating issue in focus for the week.
Partly because we know that we must pray for decision makers if we are to prioritise the vulnerable.
And partly because it’s been a week dominated by headlines that have led us to this place.
Like many others our hearts have been breaking for months over the situation in Syria. We long for peace. We don’t have answers. We know that many of the nations’ leaders debating what to do or not do have their own agendas. We also believe that many of them will be agonising over what the right thing to do is.
It’s so easy to be critical of politicians and indeed any form of leader. It would be dishonest to claim that they do not often give us cause for this.
But they are human. And they face complex decisions with huge consequences.
Yes, we are called to speak up and defend the cause of the poor and the needy… but we are also called to prayerfully support and minister love and encouragement.
There has been a lot of web activity over the last few days lobbying MPs on the vote over military intervention in Syria. Thank God that we can speak up. But will there also be a corresponding amount of activity thanking politicians for the stance they have taken?
This week, there were two headlines connected to one politician that led to praise and thanksgiving in the Sanctuary’s centre.
We have been praying about trafficking and domestic abuse regularly over the last few months, so to see our Home Secretary, Theresa May, announce planned crack-down legislation on the former and speak up about needing changes on police handling of the latter, has been an answer to prayer as well as good news.
We faced a choice.
We were obviously going to thank God for this breakthrough and pray blessing on Theresa May and her work to bring these things to fruition.
But would we be bold enough to go one step further?
To write to our Home Secretary and thank her – to encourage her that she has made a stand for justice and righteousness that we see and celebrate?
To tell her that we are praying for her and that we appreciate her actions on behalf of the vulnerable and voiceless?
We took that step this morning, alongside encouraging some other leaders.
It’s not always easy to minister in this way – especially to powerful people…
One of us wrote to Justin Welby today, and confessed to all the time battling the sense that he didn’t need to hear our thanks and encouragement – and that’s to someone within the church!
Nothing could be further from the truth.
We were reminded of the time one of us sent a song they felt God had given them to another prominent Christian leader they had never met – and the sense of embarrassment and inadequacy they felt to minister to someone of great vision and sacrifice when they recorded and sent it off a couple of weeks later…
…only to have it arrive with them in perfect timing to respond to – in the exact words! – a prayer that leader had been up all night praying and agonising over.
The difference made to that leader through this encouragement is hard to measure. But certainly we know at the time it moved them to tears and made it that bit easier to carry on standing for justice against all the odds that day.
Many politicians say that the angriest and most abusive letters they get are from Christians. This cannot go on.
Many Christians don’t send angry letters of course. They simply faithfully, obediently and often sacrifically campaign.
But there is definitely more correspondence standing against things than proactively standing for things, expressing thanks or offering prayer support.
What would be the effect if we started regularly ministering encouragement to powerful people?
What would happen if we followed up our prayers by responding to that prompt to get in touch with someone and tell them what the Spirt wants them to hear?
Why don’t we start doing it and find out?
Might we find our words build them up and strengthen them to stand for justice and peace in ways beyond what we imagined might be possible?
We’ll leave you with our prayer for all leaders that we closed morning worship with this morning:
You taught us that all who would seek to be first should be last
And all who would lead should serve
But we often redefine leadership on our own terms and for our own gain.
We lift to you today all who have the responsibility of leadership, influence and power.
We ask for your strengthening where decisions are tough,
Your wisdom to discern the best way forward,
Your softening towards those they lead
And your courage to balance risk and safety.
Bless every selfless act of leadership they display
For all that is good comes from you – and every servant leader is a reflection of your best plan.