Speaking Truth To Power
I really ought to leave this alone. Really I should. However, I’ve been asked multiple times for more specific response and reaction to my visit to Washington, DC and the White House, especially in light of a video gone viral of an individual citing some statements someone supposedly recorded at the dinner.
Some who have not been so celebratory about my visit, last week, have offered a number of remarks and questions. Most of them revolve around the theme - “Speaking Truth to Power”. While this is not a new term, it has had more frequent use lately.
Obviously, the term “Speaking Truth to Power” has to do with speaking truth or what someone deems as truth, to powers or authorities (political, religious, social, etc) even if what they say is in opposition to the governing individuals policies, ideologies and action.
“Speaking Truth to Power” has to do with speaking truth or what someone deems as truth, to powers or authorities (political, religious, social, etc) even if what they say is in opposition to the governing individuals policies, ideologies and action.
Principle To Practice
So, I have been asked, did I speak truth to power last week when I was face to face for all of 4 seconds with President Donald Trump.
Well, absolutely I did, and I’ll tell you what I said a little later.
First, understand and hear my heart when I say, I am not making light of “speaking truth to power” nor am I making light of those who have exercised the opportunity to do so. I do however believe that the truth we speak must always be founded upon God’s word from which righteousness, honesty and justice flow without compromise.
In a sense, I have spoken “Truth to Power” every time I’ve had the privilege of speaking to government authorities in every nation where the opportunity was given. As you might imagine, those opportunities come frequently, due to the privilege afforded me as a denominational representative and leader. In my travels with World Missions and as a member of the Church of God Executive Committee, I have accepted invitations to visit with numerous national Presidents and Prime Ministers. I’ve never kept up with it or logged the occasions in my notes, but as I write this, I’m remembering visits with at least 9 different top government leaders among the regions of the world where the Church of God has presence. I’ve had the occasion to speak with two former United States Presidents, several Governors, Senators and Congressmen and now a sitting President. Few of these occasions have lasted longer than a few minutes with each individual. However, there have been occasions where some of these leaders sat though an entire service where I was speaking. In each instance, my words must be fitly spoken and carefully placed within the context of the conversation so that it may have its greatest impact. Well, enough of that.
In considering my visit, I thought of another preachers visit to the White House one time. Please understand, I make no personal comparison of worthiness by citing the following reference but I remember reading about Dr. Billy Graham’s first visit with a sitting United States President. (Borrowed from various sources)
“In July 1950, Dr. Graham met with President Harry Truman at the White House, to pray for the Korean crisis before the U.S. entered the Korean War. Without any briefing on protocol, Graham spoke with Truman, bringing his three colleagues Jerry Beavan, Clifford Barrows, and Grady Wilson. Truman told Graham he lived by the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). The two prayed together. Unschooled in presidential protocol, they offended Truman by spilling the contents of their conversation to a waiting press. They then agreed to a much-photographed prayer session on the White House lawn."
President Harry Truman was furious. Billy Graham had revealed the content of their private conversation to the media, going so far as to perform a “reenactment” of their prayer time on the White House lawn at the media’s request. It was the first time Truman had invited Graham to the White House, and it would be the last. Graham’s meeting with Truman was the first of many encounters with American leaders over a span of more than 50 years. His blazing misstep with Truman, however, was a hard lesson he never forgot: "When the world is watching, trust between a president and his spiritual advisors becomes even more fragile.”
Speaking To The President
Now listen, I’m not a Spiritual Advisor to the President nor have I been invited to be. As a matter of fact, as General Overseer of a global denomination, I’ve had the responsibility to go on record several times with statements reflecting the church’s biblical and firm posture related to some of the Presidents statements, policies and actions. I have spoken to various important subjects and issues.
Such as :
- The Presidential Election Itself
- DACA (Dreamers),
- Charleston Rioting,
- Zero Tolerance Policy
- Presidents comments/language while speaking of Haiti
And more... (These statements can be found at faithnews.cc)
So, did I speak “Truth to Power” when standing before the President? Again, absolutely.
Here’s what I said, “Good evening Mr. President, please know that you are covered in prayer.”
That’s it and that was enough from me for the occasion. Others called upon to speak said more. A lot more-and It wasn’t all cute, sweet and filled with religious or political cliche’. The President spoke and had a lot to say, but he also heard from the evangelical leaders who were there as well- male and female, black and white, latino and asian.
“Good evening Mr. President, please know that you are covered in prayer.”
Franklin Graham, James Robinson, George Wood and more, delivered stirring comments calling for national repentance along with a prayer-covering over leadership in Washington. A moving moment for me personally, was when Kelvin Cobaris, a pastor with a long Church of God heritage, spoke and then broke into a powerful prayer that silenced the room with conviction and reverence.
But me? I said, “Mr. President, you’re covered in prayer.”
He said “Thank you” and moved on.
“Covered in prayer?”
Yep. I took my 4 seconds of fame to say that to the President.
I’ll leave it to others to judge the ratio of truth to power in that brief comment. But here’s what was behind it:
- Mr. President, I pray for your spiritual well-being. That you will have a meaningful walk and relationship with Jesus Christ. A relationship that in the future, is modeled by character and conduct, speech and practice, demeanor and in how you treat others.
- Mr. President, I pray for you and your families protection. That in this violent society, you will be covered by a shield of God’s care and sovereign grace for each journey while moving in and out of the public arena.
- Mr. President, I pray that you will seek godly wisdom to govern the affairs of a nation of multiple races that need to be united as “One Nation Under God.”
- Mr. President, I pray that you and all of our leaders will honor and respect Jehovah God as the One and only true God. I ask that God will give us government leaders who will pray for His Will and guidance.
- Mr. President, I ask ask that God pour out His Spirit on this nation to help each of us discern good from evil, not as through the eyes of man but through spiritual eyes. I ask that God will humble our hearts so that we will be a nation filled with gratitude and thankfulness.
- Mr. President, I ask that the Heavenly Father will please protect our nation, our military and our leaders. Turn our nation’s hearts towards himself, that we may put Him first and obey His commandants. That we may not be lukewarm in our lifestyles but stand courageously and confidently on His most holy and precious Word. I pray that all of us from the White House to the Church House will acknowledge Our Heavenly Father always in our daily lives and glorify Him with all that we do.
“...Mr. President, Please know that you are Covered in Prayer”.
That was it.
It was truth and I said to a man whom many believe holds the most powerful position on earth.
Hopefully, I didn’t let you down.