Public Service: Where Politics Meets Faith

Erika with her father, Carl Stokes.
Erika with her father, Carl Stokes.

Growing up I shadowed my father to a great deal of community and board meetings, public hearings, and church events. By the time I was 2 years old, my father had already been elected to represent a working-class district of East Baltimore City. The example of public service and the principles of stewardship and goodwill that my father carries became some of the most important things that contributed to the way I view our world and the way I treat our people.

When you travel around the city with my dad, there is always at least one moment, if not several, where someone cheerfully stops to greet him. These greetings come from residents, community leaders, friends and strangers alike. As a child, these encounters led me to believe my dad was some sort of city celebrity.

As I learned more about my father’s work and witnessed his passion for community development, I realized that those people just wanted to acknowledge my father’s service and commitment that in some way impacted their neighborhood or addressed their needs.

While I continued to observe and try to make sense of the social issues around me, I learned that unfortunately, not all politicians can be referred to as public servants. My dad taught me that public service requires selfless thoughts and actions for the betterment of one’s constituents. He taught me that being a public servant means to be used as a vessel of God to expand and share one’s talents, not to bury them.

My father takes the talents and treasures he has been given to help improve the lives of others. As I begin my work in service, I am reminded that I have a responsibility to also share the blessings I’ve received from both my earthly and Heavenly Father.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Faithful Fathers.

Erika Jackson-Stokes is a development associate at Sojourners.

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