I only ran for office once. It was during my junior year of High School. I ran for vice-president of the senior class. To be honest, I wasn’t as interested in the office nearly as much as I was in a girl who was running for one of the other posts on the ticket. So when I learned that I had lost the election, I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. I felt bad, of course. Nobody likes to be rejected. But I was actually kind of relieved that I wouldn’t have to concern myself with student government. I had never given it much thought prior to the election. I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be that interested in it while in office either.
We do not always want the things we strive to get. What looks good from a distance may lose its luster upon closer inspection. We apply for our dream job and after we get it we wonder why we ever wanted it in the first place. We move to a warmer climate to get away from the harsh mid-western winter only to miss the changing of the seasons. We pray with all our might for God to deliver us from bondage and then remember how we loved the garlic and leeks we used to get for free when we were slaves in Egypt.
I see this in organizations as often as I do in people. Churches that are looking for a new pastor often base their choice on the negative traits of the pastor they just sent packing. If he was strong in the pulpit but ineffective in relationships, they look for a “pastoral” pastor who is more interested in people than in preaching. If the pastor had a good bedside manner during hospital visits but was painful to listen to on Sunday, they select a prophet. He’s not much of a counselor but he can call down seven woes on the congregation like nobody else. The change feels good…at first.
In time our compliments are tempered with nostalgic remembrances, if not outright regret. “The new pastor is great,” someone says wistfully, “but do you remember how our last pastor used to…?” You can fill in the blank. As a result, many churches bounce back and forth between sharply different leadership styles. It could give a person whiplash.
It’s Election Day and I am not writing this to tell you how to cast your ballot. You have enough voices shouting in your ear already. The great thing about our electoral system is that you can vote for whoever you want and you don’t have to tell anybody how you voted. You don’t owe anyone an explanation and you don’t have to give them one. Go ahead. Vote your conscience. It’s nobody’s business but your own.
But if your candidate does happen to get elected, there is a good chance you will have mixed feelings about the result by the time his or her term of office is up. Maybe it’s because our expectations are too high. Perhaps the job is too big for any one person. I don’t know. It just seems that whoever we elect, we are sick of them by the time they are done. As for the losers, I imagine that, for some at least, their disappointment will be mixed with a measure of secret relief. Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.