Beliefnet
Progressive Revival

Over at the Sojourners blog, several of us have been asked to post a word of advice for the president-elect. Here’s what I shared there … It’s more of a pastoral/personal nature, since I knew that others would hit specific policy matters …

Dear President-elect Obama,

As you prepare to begin your historic presidency, I offer you these
simple words from another senator of Illinois in whose footsteps you
are walking. Abraham Lincoln said,

I desire so to conduct the affairs of this
administration that if at the end I have lost every other friend on
earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be
down inside of me.

Being a friend to yourself will mean at least four things for you:

First and foremost, it will mean keeping your soul open and
connected to God — through prayer, through worship, through fellowship,
through confession of your sins and mistakes, through constant
thanksgiving, and through a sustained humble attitude of dependence on
God. If you seek God’s wisdom, will, and guidance first, you will lead
with the same serenity and strength that have brought you this far.

Second, it will mean keeping your family life strong and healthy.
Obviously, doing so will set a needed example for all fathers and
families in our nation, but it will also be a gift to yourself, because
you will only be president for four or eight years, but you will be
husband to Michelle and father to Malia and Sasha forever. Pray with
them. Have them pray for you. And laugh and play and cry with them too.

Third, it will mean having some “non-utilitarian” friends —
soul-friends, if you will. You need a few wise and trusted people who
don’t want or need anything from you, with whom you can be free and
open, watch a ball game on TV, who can pray for you, listen to you, and
tell you what they believe you need to hear not just as a president,
but as a human being and child of God. Protecting that space for honest
soul-friendship is one of the greatest things you can do as a friend to
yourself.

Fourth, it will mean having space and time to breathe — to take a
walk, to shoot some hoops, to share a few jokes, to unwind, to do
things you enjoy. Some presidents have found that space at Camp David
or at another private place, but wherever it is, I believe even a few
minutes of solitude each day will be important for you as you seek to
balance insight and perspective in challenging times.

What an adventure you are on. What a gift you have been given. May
you enjoy the journey and when it comes to an end, may you have
millions — no, billions — who consider you their friend because of the
good you have done for them while in office. And may you find, deep
inside you, a friend to yourself as well, a part of you that receives
and celebrates the love of God, the ultimate unfailing friend to all.
God will be with you always.

With prayers and hope, and in a spirit of friendship,
Brian McLaren

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