I’ll be honest: the election campaign period has taken it out of me. Since January I’ve not stopped. I’ve worked too many weekends, with too many early mornings crossing London as dawn breaks on a Saturday to get a train to a distant part of the country. I’m ready for a break.
I may work for a Christian organisation, but that doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes get irrationally irate with my colleagues.
In just over a week I’ll head to Italy for seven days of doing nothing but drinking coffee, reading, perhaps a bit of sunbathing, and walking up and down many flights of steps on the hillside where I’m staying.
That last bit’s not a particularly normal holiday activity. But I’ve already got another mini-break planned for the end of June and that’s where the step climbing comes in. Along with a few other adventure-minded folk I’m aiming to walk over the 15 highest peaks in Wales in a day. It’s a ridiculous escapade that will make recent early mornings pale into nothing as we make our way up Snowdon before the sun has crested on the horizon.
I’ve been taking the stairs instead of lift at every opportunity, downloaded a step counter to my phone that sends me motivational messages letting me know how I’m doing against that day’s target, and an added bonus of my holiday destination is its location mid-way along a hillside path that I’ll likely climb and descend each day.
This morning I detoured on my way to work, not just to rack up a few more steps, but to cast a vote. As an unashamed political geek I’ve been thinking about this election for far too long and can hardly believe that it has now arrived. And polling day is just that – a day – and while the outcome of the election and the formation of a new government may take a little while, voting should never be the extent of our engagement.
When I trek across Snowdonia next month I’ll also be raising money for Home for Good. Last week they released their manifesto with five actions they are calling the next government to take to change the lives of children in care, so in a way I’ll be voting with my feet as I cross the mountain tops.
There are things we can all do to extend our engagement with the political system beyond the ballot box. Walking to raise money for a charity championing support for the vulnerable is just one tiny thing. Some of the ways in which we step up to the plate will be more costly than some sore muscles on the morning after.
I firmly believe that God gave us a mandate from creation that includes the whole of the culture that we live in. And because of this, we have a role in governing this world around us, a role in helping our society reflect God’s priorities, a role in drawing out and highlighting the dignity of each and every person, and a part to play in God’s ongoing redemptive work to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
You could join a political party or run for election for a local council. But maybe politics isn’t your thing; leadership isn’t restricted to positions of political power, leading is another opportunity to reflect God’s character in whatever context you are in. God’s act of creation was not to present humankind with a finished product, but to give us a world in which we get to join in with ongoing acts of creation.
Voting with our feet means learning to lead for the good of all, and in doing so becoming a voice for good and for God.