Nearly a decade ago, a friend of mine ran for mayor. He was a reputable man and a good candidate, so I helped him out with his campaign. He was also the challenger, running against a two-term incumbent.

Everyone suspected it was going to be a tight race. Indeed it was. The election ultimately was decided by just one vote! My friend was declared the winner, and a few weeks later was inaugurated as the new mayor (a post he still holds).

Most elections don’t come down to a single vote, of course, but close elections are not uncommon, especially in state and local races. But even at the congressional and national levels, an election can come down to just a relative handful of votes. In 1984, one Congressman was re-elected by just four votes out of more than 233,000 votes cast. In 2008, a U.S. Senate candidate won by 312 votes out of nearly 2.9 million cast. And, of course, in 2000, the U.S. presidential race came down to 537 votes in Florida out of nearly 6 million votes cast in that state (and more than 100 million cast nationwide).

Acting on behalf of future generations

Choosing our leaders and representatives is a privilege millions of people don’t have. It's also a stewardship responsibility.

You may not like politics (there’s a lot to dislike!), but elections do matter. They matter because they decide who will be empowered to lead. They matter because they set the course that the nation (or your state or your town) will take — not only in the short term but over many years and even generations to come. In a very real sense, when you vote you're engaging in an act of stewardship, doing what you can to protect and to pass on the legacy of freedom God has graciously bestowed on us.

Study the issues and the candidates carefully. Cast your votes — local, state, congressional — as a wise and faithful steward who seeks to honor “the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation.”*

*From “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key.