LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP) — Sen. James Lankford encouraged students during Liberty University’s Convocation to focus less on the occupation or location of their lives, but to have their main goal in life to be following God.
Lankford, a Southern Baptist and Republican from Oklahoma, said following Jesus has never been easy, but it is the main task God asks from His followers.
“Even to the disciples following Jesus always required an enormous amount of faith,” Lankford said Monday (Feb. 26) at the Lynchburg, Va. campus. “He didn’t give them an occupation and He didn’t give them a location, He just said to follow Him.”
During his address to the students, Lankford, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, began by recounting the journey that he took from working as a youth pastor for more than 20 years and then feeling God call him to leave ministry for politics.
“Running for Congress was what my wife called ‘life’s great interruption,'” Lankford said.
Lankford ran a victorious campaign for Congress in 2010 before another victorious campaign for the Senate in 2014. He said his family weighed the initial decision to get involved with politics for several months.
When confronted by people who asked why he was deciding to leave ministry, Lankford said he was actually following Jesus the best way that he knew how by listening to what He was telling him to do. Although Lankford stated that the realm of politics is important, the ultimate change in the country will never come through mere policy.
“There is a sense at times that to solve the nation’s problems, we need to have a vote at some point or someone in Washington, D.C., needs to resolve that, but the reality is it happens among us in our day to day lives,” Lankford said.
Lankford shared his personal journey as an example of how God will often lead us in ways that we never would have imagined that He would. The main goal, he said, is to keep things simple by just following God.
“I think today many Christians make following Jesus harder than Jesus made following Jesus,” Lankford said.
Lankford urged students to read Scripture in order to learn the character of God, to embrace Christian community, and to spend time alone with God in prayer to learn how to hear His voice.
Particularly on the subject of listening to the voice of God, Lankford emphasized being alone with God to allow Him to show them the direction that He wants them to go in life.
“It’s one thing to be able to set issues in front of God, but it’s another thing for Him to be able to whisper into your soul, ‘Come follow me,'” Lankford said. “There is no substitute for time with God … beginning your day with a simple prayer, ‘God today I want to follow You, will You lead me?'”
Lankford noted, “If you only trust God on weekends, that’s not a faith, that’s called a hobby.”
Whether one is working in politics or any other type of vocation, Lankford said, it all comes down to following God wherever you are.
“The real question is do you really trust God,” Lankford said.