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Change legal system by introducing lawyers to Christ, attorneys say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP)-–Only 4 percent of attorneys in the United States would classify themselves as evangelical Christians -– a factor which makes the legal profession both a mission field and a place to make a broader difference in the culture for Christ, according to two of the nation’s leading Christian attorneys.

Randy Singer, chief counsel and special assistant for the North American Mission Board, and Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), both spoke during the Feb. 19-21 Elevate 2004 conference at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center. The conference was designed to help young adults “blur the lines” between faith and career, seeing their professions as part of the calling of God on their lives.

Singer, who also serves on the board of legal advisers for the ACLJ, said what motivated him to get involved in law initially was not necessarily to win cases. It was the opportunity to influence the legal system for the better by introducing its practitioners to Christ.

“God wants each of us to excel at our professions, but He didn’t call me into the law practice just to win cases,” Singer said. “I believe He called me into the law also to build bridges and evangelize other lawyers and judges.”

Singer urged non-attorneys interested in seeing more of a Christian influence in the legal system to offer to pray for individual judges.

“Judges have a very tough job, and almost everyone who comes to a judge wants something from that judge,” he said. “I would love to see you who don’t plan to go into the practice of law to pick a judge in your hometown … and say, ‘Based on your huge responsibility, I am going to pray for you. Do you have anything that I can pray for you about?”

Singer suggested that Christian attorneys consider choosing a law firm that offers a secular environment in which to minister -– while ensuring that the firm is otherwise professional and known for its integrity. Opportunities then can arise for tremendous Christian influence in ways that wouldn’t be possible in a wholly Christian environment.

He also offered several pointers for attorneys seeking to place Christ first in their career, beginning with a commitment to not let money become their primary motivation.

“If you want to slay the dragon of greed. … then you have to have a principled basis for stewardship, and continually ask yourself, How much do I need to live on and how much belongs to the Lord?” he said. “It’s not just a question of tithing, it’s a matter of understanding that God owns it all; we are just temporary stewards.”

Singer also advised that attorneys know their history – including a fresh study of the Christian basis of law in this country. He noted the commentaries by William Blackstone that were relied upon heavily by the nation’s founding fathers. Blackstone said the legal system was founded on two foundations: the law of nature and the law of biblical revelation. A departure from that understanding has resulted in many of the decisions that have served increasingly to drive religion from anything related to government.

The same Thomas Jefferson who referred to the “wall of separation” between church and state in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, Singer said, also heard John Leland preach during a session of Congress and used government funding to sponsor missionaries in the Indian territories.

The only way the Constitution can be interpreted correctly is by examining the likely beliefs of its framers, the vast majority of whom were Christians. “This is not a secular society,” he said.

Singer also advised that Christian attorneys consider fighting a principled battled more important than fighting a winning battle. “I would rather lose the battle while taking a principled stand than win the battle while bending the truth. Sometimes God raises us up to a certain positions of influence,” Singer said, “and then calls us to put our head on a stake in service to Him. We may lose the position of influence as a result of our stand, but God will use our loss to advance His Kingdom.”

In his address to the conference, Sekulow shared how he believes Christians are perceived in the legal community. He noted that as in all careers, it is important that Christians seeking to change their world for Christ be perceived as among the best in their field.

“You’ve got to hit that profession and have an impact,” Sekulow said, noting that even in failure it is important to maintain credibility. “If you live long enough and practice long enough you have moments of sheer joy and moments of sheer terror. It’s how you react to those moments that counts.”

Sekulow noted that even his adversaries have been known to commend his professionalism. Such relationships are also important, he said, when it comes to following through on what he also sees as one of the most important reasons for being in the legal profession — finding opportunities to point people to Christ.

“You just don’t know when you’re going to get a call from these individuals that you’re dealing with on a regular basis, and they’re going to ask you a question that has nothing to do with legal theory but everything to do with the ultimate peace, which is found in Jesus,” Sekulow said. “And we can’t for a moment forget that.”

    About the Author

  • James Dotson