Political negotiating through prayer

When we’re confused, anxious, or faced with a tough decision or task, turning to God for guidance lights our path. That’s what a public servant experienced firsthand when city contract negotiations initially hit a dead end.

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Every day we need to make decisions. We need to make decisions about our schedules, our thoughts, and our actions. Co-workers, friends, family members, and some media sources freely offer opinions on how to think and act. But how do we find our way?

I’m discovering that there is a “higher” way – a more confident, inspired, joyous, humble, healthful, and fearless way – to think and act. It comes from following God alone. The Bible’s book of Isaiah says: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (55:8, 9).

Striving to follow this higher way is a blessing for us and beyond. And it’s ours for the asking, through heartfelt prayer and diligent demonstration of the good that is God.

Years ago I was approached by a friend who was retiring from our city council. She was despairing because no one was coming forward to run for office who she thought had the necessary qualifications to meet our city’s needs. She asked if I would consider running. After much discussion and prayerful consideration, I agreed.

I read, did research, and talked with others to educate myself about the issues, the precedents, and the people involved, but was soon overwhelmed by all that I did not know about this public office. Then, a light went on in my thought, and I began to value what I did know: that our divine Father-Mother, God, is infinite; and that we, as God’s children, have limitless access to illimitable good. We may only see a part of this good now, but our eternal source of good is complete and constant.

During my campaign, I saw a handbill from one of the local workers’ unions. It said I did not have the best interest of the city workers in mind and should not be elected. This was disturbing, as nobody had spoken to me of their concerns or objections.

I thought of this passage from the Bible: “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:5-7).

The “peace of God” manifested itself in this situation as praise. I found myself no longer praying for answers or specific direction but offering prayers of praise and gratitude that the Christ, Truth – which Jesus expressed and is still with us today – is always here to guide our every thought and action.

A sense of pressure that had been building in my thought disappeared, and I was filled with the certainty that God’s way is entirely good and that my duty is to follow God’s lead. Regardless of the outcome of this particular opportunity, the result would benefit all. I pressed on and was elected.

City contract negotiations came soon after the election, and I discovered that three of our five unions had been working without a contract for years. After weeks of unsuccessful talks between the unions and our city attorney, I asked permission of my fellow council members to participate in the negotiations – an unprecedented move.

This was another opportunity to listen to God. I chose not to be depressed by past precedent, nor to revel in any one party’s victory over another. Instead, I could trust the one infinite Mind, God, and I felt a great peace. Soon after joining the negotiations, I felt inspired to propose inviting a federal mediator to visit our city and conduct a workshop on negotiating, and the proposal was approved.

Though contentious at times, the workshop was productive, and weeks later we were able to present to the city council an equitable pay plan with the unanimous agreement of the city and its employees. This plan is in effect to this day.

There is help in difficult times through a realization that we are not alone as we try to determine the wisest course of action. In the one infinite Mind, God – supremely intelligent, impartial, and ever active – we find wisdom, peace, and clarity.

Adapted from an article published in the Oct. 12, 2020, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.

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