It wasn’t Donald Trump's policies that cost him the 2020 presidential election. It was his behavior. Despite a plethora of impressive accomplishments while in office, the president's mean-spirited personal attacks have come back to bite our nation in a fierce way.
You see, it was Donald Trump’s behavior that handed America Joe Biden’s policies.
Like many people, I felt President Trump’s abusive rhetoric was completely out of control. Therefore, I sent an email to the White House on December 28, 2019, with some ideas to increase the level of prayer for our pro-life president.
I am convinced that if President Trump had asked Franklin Graham, Mike Pence, and Greg Laurie to lead 15 minutes of prayer at each campaign rally, the personal impact on Donald Trump, as well as the benefits to the nation, would have been immense. Instead, President Trump used the 2020 campaign rallies to viciously mock his opponent.
Presidents are constantly criticized by political adversaries, and continually oppressed by the spiritual forces of darkness that despise religious freedom in America. But at the end of the day, the devil didn’t make Donald Trump sabotage his own campaign. He did that of his own free will.
I believe a second term in office was President Trump’s to lose. He had it in the bag, if only he had said “No” to his unseemly habit of savagely mocking and lambasting his opponents.
After all, if you truly believe in the strength of your message and the success of your policies, then why not make those things the focus of your rallies, along with the fervent prayers of your evangelical advisory team? Why not trust God enough to give you a second term, if in fact, God is willing to do so?
Regardless of his future political ambitions, I believe Donald Trump would be wise to confess his personal sins to God in a season of personal prayer, and then go before the nation and share something like this, if, in fact, he means it from the bottom of his heart:
As someone who wants only the best for my fellow Americans, I thank God for the privilege he gave me to serve as your President for four years. During my presidential campaigns and while in office, I at times engaged in unnecessary personal insults against my opponents. I am sorry for my poor behavior. I am asking God to give me the strength to become kind and gentle toward those who criticize me. I realize that Jesus always chose to turn the other cheek. Going forward, I resolve to dispense with the mockery and the personal insults. And I am asking God to help me every day. I am a work in progress, and I aim to improve by the grace of God.
Just imagine if President Trump had expressed this sentiment during the 2020 campaign, and then followed it up with genuine humility and earnest prayer at his campaign rallies. If he had changed his tune and his tone, I am convinced he would find himself right now in the middle of his second term in office.
Instead, Donald Trump’s boorish behavior handed America Joe Biden’s policies.
President Trump’s derisive approach resulted in no rewards from God or from the voters. Prioritizing prayer, on the other hand, could have given our president self-control where he needed it most.
A conservative who is firmly grounded in Christ feels no compulsion to insult others. Why? Because in addition to your spiritual maturity, your message is far more powerful and relevant than the personal weaknesses of your opponent.
For example, study the behavior of Mike Pence as well as other Christ-centered men and women. Jesus said, “Every good tree bears good fruit” (Matthew 7:17). We knew going into 2016 that Donald Trump was a good businessman and that Mike Pence was a good man. And it played out over four years the way one might have expected.
President Trump took great pride in his ability to keep some of the world’s most ruthless dictators under control. The toughest leader for Donald Trump to control, however, was the one in the White House. “The tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).
Unfortunately, each one of us can become our own worst enemy.
“The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell” (James 3:6).
One must be discerning enough in spirit and strong enough in character to recognize that making things personal with our opponents is even more dangerous and detrimental than taking things personally. As Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, used to say: “Pray for thick skin and a soft heart."
The major problem with Joe Biden is not his personal behavior, but rather, his harmful policies. The vast majority of Americans have now come to realize this dismal reality. The current president, like every president, is in desperate need of the prayers of God’s people. And there is no question that America needs a spiritual revival.
Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan are rare breeds. We hope and pray God will raise up another inspirational leader of this caliber in America. We need a president with conservative principles and a heart filled with compassion and one who resists the urge to arrogantly and maliciously humiliate opponents. I believe the majority of Americans will desire such a president in 2024.
In spite of his shameful personal attacks against others, millions of Americans remain extremely grateful for Donald Trump's accomplishments while in office, unlike those who choose to hate him regardless. Bitterness and resentment corrode the hearts of many Republicans, Democrats, and Independents who choose hatred over love.
Always remember: “If anyone says ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar” (1 John 4:19).
"Haters gonna hate,” which explains why America needs God’s love in Christ now more than ever. Wouldn’t you agree?
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.