Running On Faith
Talking about faith can be either really rewarding or really awkward. Sometimes it’s both. Our faith can show up in a variety of private or public experiences that link us to culture, family, spirituality, and community. No matter how your faith presents itself, religious and spiritual beliefs are held close to heart and often inform the foundations of our values. When running for office, voters will be curious about your values and will seek ways to see how your vision aligns with their life. Here is how you might approach talking about such a personal topic in a way that is authentic and approachable.
Use your faith to tell your story
My religious foundation was focused on treating others with love and kindness, being honest and honoring my word, and being service-oriented. Despite differences in our upbringings and culture, I’ve found that kindness, honesty, and service are values that resonate with many people I have met. Because of these shared values, we can share stories of traditions, hopes, expectations, and shared goals.
Think about the most important values you have incorporated into your life because of your faith. How were you taught these values and how do you practice them in your life now? As you practice sharing the origins of your values and how they have present-day meaning, people will learn about your character in ways that feel relatable.
Pro Tip: Learn how to tell your story without shame. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about their faith because they don’t know if others will judge them or be turned off by their beliefs. Remember that we each have a personal history and learning to share yours with confidence will draw others to you. Focus on stories that illustrate the values themselves and highlight your connection to your community.
Here are some examples of how I tell faith stories to highlight our commonalities through shared values:
When I was a little girl, I always worried that I didn’t have a talent. My sisters were good at sports and my brother was good at video games, and I just seemed to be good at being a friend. I didn’t think it was a cool talent until one of my religious leaders told me how important it is to be kind, make others feel welcome, and listen to others’ needs. I learned how special this skill is and spent the rest of my life trying to improve my ability to be a friend. As an adult, I am skilled at listening to the needs of others and then jumping into action to care for them. I enjoy being a good friend and neighbor to people I meet.
Honesty, integrity, and truth were the trifecta of good behavior taught by my mother. Whether by singing hymns, reading scripture, or lecturing until my ears bled (kidding, mom), she made sure I knew the importance of honoring my word. Once she caught me lying about another girl I grew up with in order to spare myself the embarrassment. She calmly coached me through how to own up to my mistake, apologize to the girl I had wronged, and accept the consequences that came my way. Since then, I have learned that I would rather just say what I mean and honor my word the first time. I might not be perfect, but I have a head full of hymns and lectures to keep me on track.
When I was a teenager, I was awakened early one Saturday morning by my very focused father, informing me that the bed I was sleeping in no longer belonged to me. He was giving it to our new neighbors who had just immigrated to the United States and had nothing to their name. Over the course of that weekend, we chatted with them about coming to America, stocked their pantry with groceries, and moved the furniture we could spare into their small home. My dad was always an example to me of treating all people as though we were spiritually connected — like one big extended family. Whether we were visiting nursing homes, joining the community park clean-up day, or donating to causes we cared about, our family was always focused on how we could use our time and energy to serve others. I still find that service makes me feel connected and gives me purpose.
Your turn! Practice sharing your story of self while talking about your faith by using our discussing faith as a candidate worksheet.