Just as much as you have a responsibility to listen, sometimes you have a responsibility to speak up.
It may be awkward, uncomfortable, and unpopular, but that doesn’t mean you should remain silent. Your voice matters. Our culture is at an interesting intersection. The polarization by both political parties on any number of issues seems to create so much disdain for the other side that even reason is rejected.
Recently, I’ve had several opportunities to speak on national television and represent another side of the immigration debate. DACA is not just a political buzzword; that policy represents real people at SEU who are getting a real education and making a real impact in the classroom and community. Wherever you land on the issue, I stayed silent for as long as I could.
PUT A FACE TO THE ISSUE
Like many, at first I didn’t fully understand the issue. There were all sorts of sound bites that quickly polarized the issue on the news, but for me neither side really seemed to capture the full story of what was going on.
Then I met a young woman named Sayra Lozano.
At that time, Sayra was a just a student in our community—one of many who come to Southeastern to discover and develop the calling of God on their lives. But Sayra was also a DACA recipient. She had the courage to go public
with her immigration status knowing full well it may put her dreams of finishing her degree in jeopardy.
However, it was Sayra’s courage to speak out that clarified for me what this issue was really about: People.
As I learned her story, I found myself becoming more and more passionate about the subject. I realized that this issue was not simply about policy, but about real people. It seemed to me that educators and evangelicals were getting mischaracterized and lost in the debate.
TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY
The most frustrating part of all was the dehumanizing way DACA recipients were being portrayed in the media. While I agreed that something must be done to strengthen our borders, after meeting Sayra, I knew that this issue went way beyond simply building a wall. America needed to act with compassion to the students who have been caught in a broken system that we have all ignored for too long.
The more I watched the issue grow, the more I felt I had to speak up. God had given me influence with my role as President of SEU, and I knew that I had to steward that role by championing the cause of real people like Sayra. I had no idea what it would look like for me to advocate for this cause, or if we would even be successful in achieving a solution. But I knew I had to step into the opportunity in front of me.
BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
Your divine design includes your thoughts, ideas, and perspective. When you find you have achieved clarity on an issue and feel compelled to speak up, you should follow through. You don't have to be obnoxious, and you certainly shouldn't think everyone is going to believe as you do. But that’s not the point anyway. Your willingness to contribute to the solution rather than be a passive bystander in life is what is your responsibility.
You were created to bring about a unique solution to a persistent problem in the world. Of course, not every time you speak up will be about a national issue. But that doesn’t mean your faithfulness to stand up in the small things won’t lead to your opportunity to stand up and speak out one day while the world listens.
Who knows? It could be your voice, your dream, and your ideas that ignite change in a meaningful and material way. One thing is for sure – you'll never know if you remain silent.