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Before I begin this letter, I should start by saying I've never written an "open letter" to anyone before, let alone a future president of The USA. I was inspired to do so, however, because I have been watching the show "Designated Survivor" on Netflix. I'm halfway through watching it, and there's a line where someone tells the president he has "the loneliest job in the world." As a young pastor who has already had to make difficult leadership decisions in her just 4 years of full-time ministry as a pastor, I can relate with the idea. Leadership jobs are lonely...and maybe, instead of constant criticism or critique, our president (whoever it may be at any given point in time) needs more prayer and grace than I sometimes want to give. In my few decades of life, I have been slow to pray for and give grace to any president--and I have been wrong. I want to do and be better starting today. So in honor of inauguration day tomorrow, and my own commitment to be a better citizen and Christian, here's my open letter to our next president.
Dear Mr. Biden,
If you ever stumble across this letter, I hope it finds you well. I'm writing this on the day before your inauguration and I'm sure you're busy getting ready to move into a new place and getting ready to sit behind the desk in the oval office that so many men before you have sat in. I'm sure it is a humbling feeling to know that you will join a long line of presidents before you who have had the responsibility of running an entire country of over 300 million people. As a United Methodist pastor, I can in just a small way understand that feeling of moving, starting a new job, and obtaining more responsibility than you have ever had before. It is daunting and a bit scary.
There is a saying that has been spread around fellow United Methodist pastors and it goes something like this..."At some point in time, everyone will have loved you. Half will be happy that you got here and the other half will be happy when you leave." If the results of this election show anything, it is that those same statistics apply to you. Tomorrow, half the country will be upset that you are going to be replacing the incumbent and the other half will be cheering you on as you take the oath of office. Half the country thinks you stole the election and the other half thinks you won fair and square. In the official Senate counting of votes, rioters and domestic terrorists took over the Capitol building (the very one you will be inaugurated at tomorrow) to try to delay and stop the vote from happening. People are angry. People are sad. People are frustrated.
I do not envy you as you take the Oath of Office tomorrow and officially become the 46th President of The United States of America. Many different people have ideas of what you should do as president. The opposing party thinks you are a cheater. Your own political party thinks you're too moderate. Average, everyday citizens are still hurting from the economic drain of the pandemic. So many people have slipped through the cracks and are looking for you to hear them and help them. You literally have the weight of 300 million expectations sitting on your shoulders.
I have not agreed with everything you have ever said or done. I am sure there will be moments of your presidency that I will find what you say and do to be frustrating. You will be juggling more things than I care to imagine having to juggle. Your family will not have privacy, and everything you do, everything you wear, and everything you say will be scrutinized and picked apart by the media and individuals on social media. This letter is not to remind you of what you already know. This letter is meant to be a source of encouragement and a prayer for you. As a fellow leader, I am beginning to understand more and more that you have a bigger picture to all the things going on in this country and in this world that would quite literally make my head spin. You will make many decisions based on information that I and all the other average Americans will not have. I may not understand your decisions and I may be angry about it, but...
My promise to you, Mr. Biden, is that I will pray for you. In the moments where you frustrate me, in the moments where I don't see the bigger picture, in the times I hear media scrutinize a choice you made, or see a post on social media that makes fun of you or your family, I will pray for you. I will try to show you more grace than I have any of your predecessors before you. It is far too easy for me to sit back and think I know it all and how to fix things when the reality is, I have no clue about all that is going on nationally and globally. I will pray for the health of your family, cabinet, and staff. I will pray for all members of Congress, the members of the Supreme Court, and your vice-president. I will pray that, as a country, we can all learn to show you (and others in leadership) a little more grace and pray for you a little bit more.
You are about to have the loneliest job in the world, a job you have been trying to get your whole life. As lonely, difficult, stressful, and I'm sure, at times, rewarding that it may be, know you have at least one person praying for you and all the decisions you must make on a regular basis. I pray that maybe one day soon, our country can once again be united and that maybe we can be united in something as simply praying for you.
Good luck and God bless!
Rev. Patricia Lund