A Pastor to Politicians

Scot Wall works in Austin, Texas, at the State Capitol. But he’s not an elected official or a lobbyist. He’s a pastor to the politicians and everyone else whose work brings them into the capitol building. Scot gives us insight into the unique struggles of being an elected official and how his work with the Capitol Commission allows him to share the good news of Jesus with some of the most influential leaders in our state. Matt Popovits hosts.

Transcript

The following program is sponsored by evangelical life ministries.

Welcome to engaging truth, the manifestation of God's word and the lives of people around us. Join us each week. As we explore the impact of his message of spiritual renewal from the lesson of forgiveness Fords in the crucible of divorce, to the message of salvation learned by an executioner from a condemned killer to the gift of freedom found in the rescue of victims of human trafficking. This is God's truth in action. Welcome to

Engaging truth. I'm your host, Matt Popovits. And with me on the program is Scott Wall. He's the state minister with the capital commission of Texas. And we are so glad that he's with us tonight on the program, uh, engaging truth, Scott, welcome to the program.

It is a great honor to be here. Thank you for having that.

Uh, thank you for being here. Uh, but first question, what in the world does the capital commission and what does the state minister do?

Those are great questions and, and it's actually kinda hard for me to fully answer cuz uh, my job is, is kind of a, a wide, uh, spectrum as part of what I do. But officially we have a, a ministry that's national it's called capital commission. They place a state minister in each of the state capitals. And so I am the state minister for capital commission in Texas. So, so my focus is the capital, uh, N Texas, which is the building, you know, our, our, our title capital commission is C a P I T O L. And it's the O that makes it the building. The a is Austin. The O is the building. And so our capital commission, we focus on all people at the, in the capital. That's mostly the legisla leaders, elected officials that are there, their staffs, as well as the people that, that work there at the capital and, uh, the lobbyists and anybody that ends in, in there.

So basically I'm a pastor. In fact, I just pulled up with my, my, my, uh, computer here. I'm gonna be praying to kind of kick off. One of our state senators, uh, is having her campaign. She's being her campaign today is kind a kickoff. And she's asked me to pray to take a kickoff. She says, she wants to focus on God and country, and God comes first and, you know, please pray. And so we're gonna be doing that here. Just a couple hours of this. She says, um, uh, in the intro, just look at how she introed me. Uh, she's been there for 30 something years, so she's been a lot, lot longer than me, but she says, uh, we, we begin with prayer with my friend, pastor Scott Wall, state minister, capital commission, Texas in effect, he's the pastor for the Texas legislature and conducts a weekly bipartisan Bible studies benefit and many other things, which centers that we, um, attend. So they, they consider me basically a pastor to the capital. It's kind of a missionary to the capital pastor to the capital and I'm there for all of them. Yeah.

Well, well talk to me about why this work is so important. Why, why do people who work in state government need someone, so to, to pastor them and, and care for them? Don't they have their own home congregations for that?

That's, that's a fantastic question as well. Yeah. And if you talk to each of the legislators, uh, they would be able to answer this question, uh, quite easily as well. Uh, first of all, uh, most of the legislators in, especially in the state of Texas do not live in and around Austin. And so they have to travel. There they go there, uh, during session, they're there all week long, it's early mornings, late night, sometimes 2, 3, 4, 5 o'clock in the morning, kind of things with committees. They have, uh, events they gotta go to, but they're away from their families away from their congregations away from their support groups. And they, there is a, a ton of, um, I, I, I guess you'd say things that, uh, buy for their attention, temptations and other things that are there at the capital as well. And so, um, I, my, my role, I think, is to be that spiritual guide, I guess, or spiritual, uh, resource for them while they're away from the, those, their family and, and those, uh, resources they have have at home plus it's, um, it's a different kind of environment that it's hard to explain unless you're part of it.

It's like a mini groups. I mean, if you're in the MI Marines, it's hard to tell everybody else what it's like to be a Marine. It's hard to explain that, but I'm there 24 7 with them. And so I, they understand that. I understand that they understand now we, we were in this together. And, uh, so it, I think it's important to have somebody can come alongside and those difficult times, those challenging times, and be able to lean on 'em and trust them. And, and trust is the, is, you know, that's, that's one of those, uh, very valuable commod in the political world. And so that's a big role is being able to offer them that they could trust me and, and to provide that trust.

So what are some of the things that those who are living and working in the capital are, are struggling with are, are dealing with that, that they might need pastoral care or assistance for that, that those of us who, who, who don't work in government or aren't involved in politics might not understand or know about.

Yeah. Yeah. Well, first they are human beings just like you and me. They have the same kinds of struggles in, in some ways only they're elevated in a lot of ways. They have, you know, they have problems with the kids. They have some financial problems, they have marriage problems. They have, you know, typical everyday problems that many people have. They are exasperated a little bit in that they're in the political limelight that everyone wants to know every detail about their life. Uh, people, it seems like for them, about half the world is telling them that they're the most wonderful person in the entire world because they want something from them. So they will build them up and tell them all these wonderful things and get of them things. And then the other half of the world hates them and thinks that they're terrible, whoever they are, whatever, wherever they are on the spectrum.

And I, I, I, my goal is try to hit reality as much as possible and try to help them realize, and neither one of those are true. And then to help them with things within their own districts, uh, that they're dealing with, if there's a shooting in a district, if there's a hurricane in the district, or if there's illness, or if there's a death in the family, I've done funerals, I've done weddings. Um, if there, uh, is marriage problems, financial problems, legal problems. I went to, uh, trials, uh, some of our legislators who end up going through trial, actual trials, um, there's many, many things that they're, they're facing that they are looking for. Somebody can come alongside, who loves them, cares for them, cares for their families and can offer some biblical, uh, counsel and some hopefully, um, practical ways to kind of deal with all of as different issues that they face.

So, so, so you're really not, you're, you're not there to, to, to lobby for Christian issues or, or, or particular Christian agenda to be met in the, in the legislation, by the legislature itself. You you're really there just kind of as a, like a chaplain to care for these people, right.

Uh, if I could get everybody who's listening everybody to underst and that's exactly it, that is spot on you, you understand exactly my role and they do too. And I have to make sure they understand that to build that trust. Do we have 150 state representatives? We have 31 state senators, and then there's staffs and, and others, and there's Democrats Republicans right now. We don't have independents, uh, but they are the spectrum politically they're, uh, and religiously, uh, and emotionally and socially they're, they're the spectrum. And my goal is to be there for every single one of them. Um, and so I'm not there. It's not what I do is not, I'm not part of the religious right or religious left, or trying to lobby or particular political view or in, in try to get them to change their vote on anything. My goal is to let them see God and God affect their hearts, whatever that is.

And, and that's up to God, how God wants to do that. What I do is not, it's not watered down though. I do wanna make that clear. Uh, and they all, everyone understands this, that, uh, I, I am, I'm a Christian and I believe the Bible to be true. And I believe the Bible's a guide for how to live our life. So when we do our Bible studies, I go through, I, I I've trained at Dallas theological seminary, so we we're trained to rightly divide God's word and to preach God's word. And so I go through Bible study book by book, verse by verse and exposition kind of teaching don't skip anything. But I, I do recognize the, the audience that I have, and my goal is not to beat them overhead over some kind of social issue, or try to tell them how to, how to vote on anything, say here's what the Bible says and let God God do the rest. And, and I, that's, that's very, very important to me that they understand that and that, that continue to do that. Yeah. Because

I imagine that there would be some out there who would be, who would be cynical about the presence of a, of a pastor or preacher on, on Capitol hill or on Capitol Hills around the country. Um, you know, because there, there are some who advocate for a, a sharp distinction between what happens in the religious realm and what happens in secular government. I mean, there are, there are some who have a problem with the presence of, of Christianity, um, intermingling intermingling with, uh, with, uh, our, our public leaders and, and our, our kind of our civic life. Uh, what would you say to those who think that, that the, the presence of a pastor, um, in Austin, or in Lansing, Michigan, or any other kinda state capital is, is inappropriate?

Yeah. I, I, I completely understand the, the sentiment and, and I have to be, uh, real sensitive and careful with, uh, all of the legislators that are there. And I'm, here's, here's one distinction. I'm not, uh, the official state chaplain. Uh, they don't pay me. Uh, it's not something that, uh, you know, there's state funds that, that fund me, I'm there essentially as a volunteer. I have, I am, I'm through organization cap, capital commission, as I mentioned, and I'm funded through that individuals that, that fund this, but I'm not funded through the state. So it's not state fund. I'm not official where they tell me, this is what, uh, you know, everybody has to follow me and do what I, I have to say. I am, uh, somebody who's there as a resource, just like we have a, a doctor for the day, every day, uh, at the capital.

So somebody's sick within the capital. They get to go there free, and the doctor volunteers, and does there no one ask them, you know, any particular thing, they just know that they're there to help their, their resource. We have other resources that are like that. And so I'm a resource for them. Everything's volunteer. Uh, I let them know about the Bible studies that I do. We have the Senate Bible study. We have a couple of house member, Bible studies. We have a capital community Bible study, but no, one's forced to go any of them. Uh, it's a resource. And if they like to come love to have 'em, it's not political anyone they can come. And so I think that that, uh, helps with the, the vision of church and state. It's just a, um, it's just a, a resource that they can take advantage of or not. It's up to them.

Yeah. Yeah. What are some of the things that are happening, um, uh, at the, the state capital right now that that's, uh, that you think en en engaged citizens in particular, perhaps even people of faith, you know, who want to be able to, to pray for their leaders and, and support their, their government leaders, uh, what are some of the things that are happening at the capital right now that, or being debated or talked about that you get to, to be, uh, a part, get to be party to, or over here that, um, that, that our listeners should be interested in or know about?

Well, uh, you know, the, the can be praying for our leaders. There is a lot of stress, and I think everyone listening can, can probably put themselves in, in the shoes of these legislative. I know we look to them and we get mad at them, and we think they're not making all the right decisions here and there. And we get frustrated and we think they're out for power grab and, and whatever. Most, most legislators that I, I know there, uh, Democrat Republican left, right? Uh, are there with a, a good intention, good-willed intentions, good heart to make good decisions. And right now everyone can imagine that they have pressure because of COVID and all the things that wrapped up with it, and that on such a political issue, it is a political issue within the capital itself. Um, and as far as what that looks like for the state of Texas, what I mean by the capital itself right now, uh, our session is we're not in session right now.

We'll begin in January. They have committees. They do a lot of meeting and planning and writing bills and things right now, but sessions are it's in January, but come January. Everyone's wondering what is that gonna look like? They, they have tried to, you know, some are saying, we need to close down the capital. Some say, we shouldn't allow visitors. Some say we shouldn't have, uh, be limited only two or three people in the staff and your staff, some are saying in the gallery, no, no visitors in the gallery. Some are saying, they're gonna take some of the people, the house members on the floor and put 'em up in the, the gallery. So they're socially distanced and put plexiglass up. And some are saying, we shouldn't do that. And some are saying, I'm not gonna require mask in my office. Some are saying I'm gonna require masks.

So just within the capital itself, not, not making decisions. And within the capital itself, it has become a, you know, a political issue. So that along with, uh, the racial things that are, that are going on within our country, we have, uh, a legislative black caucus that has been meeting, uh, fairly regularly and trying to, uh, sort through what that looks like and, and legislation that is good and fair. Uh, but, and addressing some of the things that, uh, that are being brought up. Uh, I acquired a few of them, uh, go to my Bible study and they've allowed me to, you know, I, I go to their events with them and, and I know they're, they're struggling through this and we can be praying that they have wisdom and how to, to, uh, make those decisions. Those are two big ones that everyone sees right now.

And then because of COVID and everything else, we got budget deals that are coming up. We got, um, redistricting, which is a huge deal to everyone in the political world. And it comes every 10 years. And so wherever's in charge, kind of decides a lot of stuff. And that plans the things for the future. And as Texas goes, kind of goes the nation in a lot of ways. This is a, is kind of a, a big state that that makes a big impact. And so they're feeling the stress and the pressure to be making decisions that could affect the nation and the world for a long time to come. So we can be praying for our leaders, please be praying for our leaders, they need wisdom and direction, and, and all these decisions

You're listening to engaging truth from your host, Matt Popovits. And with us on the program today is Scott Wall. He's a state minister to Texas from the capital commission. We're talking about the work that he does, and being a pastor to people who are working in Austin here in Texas, and, and the work that other state ministers around the country are doing, um, in, in state capitals, uh, around the United States and how, how Scott and his, his cohorts get to serve as a, as a pastor, as a chaplain of sorts to those who are making some big decisions on our behalf. I, if you like this conversation, if you want to hear more conversations like this, or support this conversation, you could head to E L M houston.org, find out more about engaging truth and the nonprofit ministry that makes it all possible. There you can request, uh, past episodes.

You can make, uh, suggestions about future guests and future episodes. You can also give a gift. So head to Elm houston.org for more information about this program and how to support it in various ways, Scott, uh, it's an election year nationally, and it's a contentious one, cuz as you said, there there's a lot of stuff going on to say the very least there's the global pandemic that we still find ourselves in the midst of there is, um, unrest at home, um, in terms of, uh, rioting and uh, uh, social unrest due to who, uh, what many believe is, is, um, uh, unjust violence against the black community by, by the police force in the United States. Uh, there, there are some big things going on right now and it's, it's an election year where a lot of those things are, are kind of up for debate. And part of the discussion in this national election year. Do do you find that when it's a national election's been actually contentious one like this one that it, that it trickles down and affects the dynamic at the, at the state capital as well?

Oh definitely. Yeah. It's it, uh, what, what happens at the national level, uh, certainly impacts what they call down ballot, where especially the people that are on the ballot come November, uh, which not everyone is, but a big portion is this, this time around. And so, uh, that, that matters a lot. There is because of that. Um, you know, if you want to be elected you, you know, everyone, um, criticizes, I guess politicians for, you know, reading the polls, listening to the polls, et cetera, uh, that that's kind of reality for the them that if you want to be elected, then you gotta figure out what's going on. And so all these things that are going on nationally, they trickle down and they have to figure out how am I going to respond to this? What am I gonna put out there publicly that that will help me, you know, in the future, won't hurt me, uh, in the future.

And so it's, there's a lot of pressure. And right now within them, from a political standpoint, again, I, I don't, I don't endorse any, any of the politicians or any, but we have, uh, within the house right now, the house is a majority Republican over the Democrats in the Senate. It's, it's a majority Republicans over the Democrats. And then at the leg, um, our, um, executive level, those are mostly Republicans as well at this juncture. Uh, I would say in January, um, the Democrats were hoping to flip the house to more majority. Uh, the Senate probably didn't think that they had had that. I mean, they would always hope, but they, I probably didn't think of hope. Um, but this time around because of what's been going on, uh, the Democrats are, are feeling pretty, pretty confident. They're feeling pretty good that they could flip the house.

And so there's a, there's a tension there because that what matters who's in charge matters a lot. Uh, who's gonna be the speaker of the house. Who's gonna be, you know, making certain decisions, uh, that will affect the, the law. So it is, it is big for these legislators and it affects how they respond to what's going on around them, uh, which we want them to do. What's best for their constituents and their community. And that's what they, they state they want. But it's really hard if you, if you're not there and you're not elected, so they gotta figure out how to stay elected and do that at the same time. Yeah.

Yeah. I mean, Texas has been such a, such a strong red state, so to speak for several decades now, what would, what would, what would happen? What would it be like in Austin? If, if the, the, if one of those houses flipped, if they actually flipped from, from Republican majorities to, to Democrat majorities, would, would that, would that be a big deal in Austin?

It would be a, a, a big deal. Uh, I'm not sure things I would, there's not meant to sound cynical. I'm not sure things would change. I tremendously . But, um, I, I do think, as I mentioned, if, if the, if a democratic party is in charge of drawing the redistricting lines, that will probably affect the presidential election in the future. And so it could affect, uh, where things go for the sure. Uh, for many, many years, I mean, that's, that's a huge thing that not a lot of people talk about is the redistricting, but kinda whoever has the pencil on hand, they kinda hang on to power for a bit. And, and if they whoever's, if the Republicans are in charge, they kinda get the pencil and they'll probably be able to hang on the majority for a bit. You, if the Republicans getting charge, I mean, Democrats getting charged and they get the pencil, then it's, it's probably going to be changing as far as what the, what the outlook looks like politically.

Um, like I said, I don't think the Senate will change drastically anytime soon, the house that could change. And that would be, that would set up, uh, a lot more, whatever one calls, gridlock, where you have the house, one party and Senate at the other party, some people like that. Cause they think that holds everybody in check. Uh, but that also prevents a lot of things from, from happening from going through. And so it'll, it'll, it'll slow some things down and be a lot more contention. I think if we have one house is, uh, one party and one as the other,

A as you've, as you've ministered to, to our legislators, uh, the state capital, and you've gotten to, to know them and you've gotten to understand what some of their unique hopes and fears, what some of their unique sins and struggles are. How would you, how would you articulate the, the gospel, the good news of Jesus, um, specifically to someone who is, uh, a, a leader in state government, someone who's a, an elected official, uh, with their, what you now know about their unique struggles, their unique, unique pains, their unique particular sins. W what would you, what would you say in, in articulating the gospel to them? Uh, so that it would uniquely resonate with them, uh, I guess to put it more succinctly, what's the gospel to a politician.

Yeah. That's, that's great. I mean, obviously the gospel message is the gospel message for every single person, but I think we do filter it cause of our life experiences to try to, to understand it. I, I probably the best way to explain that, uh, is to explain, uh, one time when I shared the gospel to a Senator and his response to that, an example of the, the tight rope Walker that goes out over Niagara falls. It's a real story, a true story. Last guy, his name, last name is Blendon. You can look it up. He went out on tight rope, he came back, he had a big crowd out with a wheelbarrow and he comes back. He fills a wheelbarrow for rocks, goes out and comes back. And he says, how many you watch and think that I could put a man in there and go out there and come back.

And they like, oh yeah, sure. You could do that. And he said, all right, who's first to get in the wheelbarrow. And no one wanted to get in that wheelbarrow. And I, what I said to the Senator, his name is Senator UTI. He's allowed me to share this story. Um, whereas Senator UTI is, have you, um, ever gotten in the wheelbarrow Jesus it's Jesus. I believe that Jesus lived. He's a good guy and thing, but I've never given my life to him. I've never said, I trust you with my life. I trust that your way is better than my way that you died on the cross for me in my place to forgive me of my sins, forgive me eternal life. And I wanna do it your way ever done that. And he began to cry and said, no, that's what like to do that.

He said, yes, through tears, he reached cross, held my hand and he prayed. He prayed to pray. He said, dear God, I know I've done things wrong. Everyone knows I've done things wrong has been in the news. And you know it, God, but I wanna ask for forgiveness. And I trust that Jesus said, forgive me. Forgiveness died on the cross from me. And I want to get in. That will barrel. He texted me after that. And he said, I think God's timing is impeccable. He said, I believe that God sent you to tell me who Jesus truly is and help me get in that wheelbarrow. Now I can't wait to tell my family and friends to help them get in that wheelbarrow with me. Who's a Senator who has put his stress in Jesus Christ, who now knows he has in a life and knows that he'll go to heaven has been forgiven. He says, I have more joy now that I've ever had in my life as a man, who's now in prison, lost everything, but he is recognized the joy that God has given him through the death and resurrections of Jesus Christ and life he gives. That's what I would tell a Senator or anyone else, Scott,

If, if people wanna learn more about the capital commission or, or support the work that that you and others do, uh, where can I find out more and what can they do?

It's capital commission, texas.org. And remember it's capital with an O because it's the capital building, everybody in the capital, building C a P I T O L capital commission, texas.org. Uh, and you find there's a video there with a bunch of legislators talking about the ministry. And so you can see that and see more about the ministry. Also, there's a place on there that if you'd like to donate to this ministry and help it continue on, uh, we would love to have you be a part of that, or if you just wanna connect with us and let us know that you prey, man, we would, we would love that Scott Wall

From the capital commission. Thanks so much for being a guest on engaging

Truth. Thank you, Matt so much. Uh, I appreciate you doing this and allowing us do this and God bless you. Thanks

So much. And thank you for listening. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you'll join us next time. Right here. Same time, same place on engaging

Truth.

Thank you for listening to this broadcast of engaging. Be sure to join us each week at this time to help support our ministry, contact evangelical live ministries, post office Fox 5 68, Cypress, Texas 77, 410, or visit our [email protected], or find us on Facebook at evangelical live ministries. Thank you.

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