Inauguration Day is a joyous time for some and depressing for others. But regardless of how you feel about the new president, you and I are experiencing yet again the wonder of the passing of power from one leader to another in a peaceful and orderly way. And that is something to celebrate.

Political leaders are not just accountable to the constituency that elected them; they are responsible for the common good. They are stewards of this nation and that means they have the responsibility to look after the good of all, individually and collectively.

In the midst of a nation characterized by a ‘winners and losers’ mentality, and filled with fear, anxiety and brokenness, I offer a word I intend to be neither ideological nor partisan. It is simply my perspective as the spiritual leader of The United Methodist Church in Arkansas about how I believe those of us who follow Jesus are called to live as citizens.

While articulating your beliefs is an essential right fundamental to a healthy democracy, our nation is fragile right now and threatened with a division that could easily become an even deeper fracture. In this environment, Christians of all political persuasions are uniquely called to take the lead in seeking the common good by working for understanding, justice and reconciliation.

As a Christian, you are called to pray for our leaders to seek God’s will, strive for the common good and be filled with wisdom, courage and strength. Whether or not you agree with a particular leader is immaterial. You are called to pray because it is the right thing to do and because your prayers make a difference.  

Democracy is not easy, even when you are a Jesus-follower. But it is a precious gift you are called to protect, nurture and grow. For the sake of our nation and the common good, may it be Jesus-followers like you who take the lead in setting a new tone in our nation, taking every opportunity to get involved and make a positive difference.

Perhaps most of all, however, I hope and pray that you see these tumultuous days as a wonderful opportunity to join with all of your brothers and sisters in to demonstrate how being a disciple of Jesus Christ makes a real difference in real life.