Senator Lankford Encourages Students to Follow God

When U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) visited Convocation on Feb. 26, he did not talk about the bill he sponsored to renew the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or the gun reform proposals being put forward on Capital Hill. Instead, his message focused on encouraging students to follow God’s calling for their lives.

Lankford addressed this issue by first tackling the most asked question for college students, “What are you going to do after graduation?” and highlighted that this question is not as important as many make it out to be because God has a plan for everyone’s life.

“Jesus’ statement over and over again to the disciples was ‘Come and follow me.’ He did not give them an occupation. He did not give them a location. He said, ‘Come and follow me,’” Lankford said. “The revolution in the Christian life is when you stop being obsessed with the ‘what you do’ and you become obsessed with the ‘who you follow.’”

Lankford laid out three steps that all Christians should take in order to better follow and hear God’s calling in their lives. These three steps were reading scripture, associating individuals who will help with one’s Christian walk and spending time in prayer.

“The Bible that you have, every page of it, every verse that is in it was written with two goals in mind: Who is God, and how do you follow him?” Lankford said. “Every page has that on it. Every page that you read you should be able to answer that, ‘God what does this tell me about who you are and what does this tell me about how to follow you?’ . . . If you are not spending time alone with God in prayer, then you are not going to be able to hear his instruction. You are not going to understand what ‘follow me’ really means.”

Having been called from youth ministry and his job as the Fall Creek Youth Camp director to run for Congress in 2010, Lankford spoke from the position of someone who felt and answered God’s call in his life despite the uncertainty that came along with it.

“I don’t know a lot of people who would say, ‘If you want to be a United States senator, be in youth ministry for 20 years,’” Lankford said. “Not a lot of people would say that, though it was good preparation to work with juveniles for two decades before going to Congress.”

Prior to Convocation, Lankford made a visit to government classes to talk to students about what takes place behind the scenes in politics and government. He explained the unique position that lawmakers are in, as every election they receive a job review with an exact count of how many people do not like them. While many politicians find it easier to focus on appealing to their base in elections, Lankford prefers trying to articulate his values and win over voters who might have disagreed initially.

“The first thing that we need to process is the mentality of, ‘Everyone who disagrees with me is an idiot and someone that I should run over or make fun of.’ As silly as that sounds to say that, that has become the culture. That if someone disagrees with me, I call them an idiot online and don’t engage,” Lankford said. “I think that hurts long-term, not only each individual’s education and perspective but certainly hurts dialogue and the ability to win people over.”

While minister is no longer in Lankford’s job title, he still sees his job as a United States senator as part of the field of ministry. No matter the job, his focus is on trusting God with his everyday interactions and all aspects of
his life.

“If you only trust God on weekends, that is not a faith, that’s a hobby. A hobby is something you do on weekends. A faith is something that you do throughout the course of your whole life,” Lankford said. “I’m fascinated when some people say to me, ‘How do you walk in faith in Congress?’ And I’m like, ‘Well,  let’s see, I walk in the building, I talk to people, and I live my faith.’ It’s no different than college. When you came here you made a decision on who you were going to hang with and what you were going to do.”

For students who are entering fields of politics, journalism or Hollywood that are considered to be more hostile to faith, Lankford encouraged them to not be afraid of following God’s call.

“There are lots of places where I hear Christians say, ‘Well that is a really dark profession.’ And I have always laughed and say, ‘I would be amazed if God would send light to dark places, but that is his character and his nature. He is sending people to places that the world may look at and say, ‘That is worldly’ but he loves the individuals that are there, so it is not surprising to send people into those places and say, ‘Go be an encourager, go be a light.’”

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