The United States of America is the place where “anybody can become president.” Obtaining the office of POTUS is is generally considered the highest level of success one can achieve in this fair nation. Mark Roberts has been writing all week of on the story of Joseph who achieved massive success in his day. Yesterday Roberts wrote of his own experience of success:
During my four-and-a-half years in residency there, I spent thousands upon thousands of hours in the Harvard Divinity School library. Sometimes, as I sat in my carrel reading away, I would daydream about the day when one of my books would be in that library.
It did finally come, a couple of years ago…. I thought I might check and see if one of my books was there. Sure enough, one had made it to the library stacks, a commentary I wrote on Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. As a matter of fact, I found another one of my books there too, Can We Trust the Gospels?…
How did I feel? Was I overcome with the ecstasy of my success? Hardly. Yes, I felt pleased. I felt grateful for the gifts and opportunities God has given to me. But the deep sense of accomplishment that I had once anticipated didn’t come. I did not stand there in the Div School library and feel that my life was now complete. I was not energized for my work on the new commentary by the hope that I might have another book on the shelves of that library.
In fact, my being underwhelmed by the presence of my books in the library helped me remember and clarify my true purpose for my writing and, indeed, for all the work I do. My goal is not to get attention or some kind of personal satisfaction from my success. I write to serve the Lord and to participate in his work in the world. I write to serve my readers in the hope that they will grow in faith and faithful discipleship.
I cannot help but wonder if some, even many, of those that seek the office of president and those that vote for them in this current age have lost sight of the essential truth that Roberts experienced in that library.
If your candidate wins the election, it is not necessarily affirmation that your point of view is right. It is not personal validation of the candidate and his or her supporters. The winner of the election is not the MVP; they do not have a trophy to place on the mantle. The only thing that has been won is a job, a job of service to the nation. Not service to your party, not service to your agenda – service to the nation. Election victory celebrations last one night because the next morning the hard work begins.
I enjoy professional wrestling. One of the reasons I enjoy it is because despite the apparent massive egos involved in the “competition,” success in professional wrestling has very little to do with the skill of the wrestler and very much to do with how well they entertain the crowd. Being a professional wrestler is, in the end, the ultimate service job. Most professional athletes these days act as if the crowd serves them; they dance and strut and make faces, begging the crowd to tell them how good they are. Pro wrestlers know that even their celebrations have to be designed to get them over with the crowd – there is nothing genuinely celebratory about it.
Pro wrestling analogies to this and prior elections have become cliché. But they are appropriate on a deep level. Election winners never get genuine celebrations, they just get the opportunity to keep serving.
My prayer for this election cycle is that the voters of this country understand that the election is about the opportunity to serve, not the validation of a point-of-view, a philosophy, a party, or a candidate. I hope you will pray with me.