Editor’s Note: Lela was the winning contestant in IFWE’s “Faces of Faith and Work Contest.” IFWE readers and fans selected Lela out of a pool of five finalists featured on IFWE’s Facebook page. Congratulations, Lela!
Before 2008, Lela Pittenger had never even voted in a primary. But in answer to God’s calling, she became a delegate to a national political convention, ran for United States Senate, and currently works as the Central Texas Regional Director for her senator. Lela has learned to be sensitive and obedient to the voice of God, and because of this, he has given her an amazing platform to share her faith.
In January of 2008, Lela was writing out and praying over her New Year’s resolutions, a process that she takes very seriously. During this process, she felt a strong tug on her heart. She believed God was calling her to go into politics, even though she had never taken an interest in politics before that day.
Lela started volunteering and attending political meetings. Before she knew it, she was entering her name to be a state alternate delegate. Despite stiff competition and no previous experience, she was selected. One of the women on the selection committee approached her afterwards and told her that God had highlighted Lela’s name, and she had picked her because of God’s instructions.
God intervened in a similar way at the state convention, and Lela was sent to be an alternate delegate at the national convention. After this experience, Lela thought she was done with politics, but God had other plans. She began running for U.S. Senate at God’s calling, though it shocked both her and her husband.
For two and a half years, Lela traveled around Texas, meeting with voters and talking with Tea Party groups. She described her experience, saying,
I always talked about my faith along with my politics…I told people that they didn’t just need to know the Constitution, but that they needed to know the Bible backwards and forwards…I would go to meetings with no money and no place to stay, but God always provided.
Several Tea Party leaders and activists even told her that they started Bible studies because they felt so convicted by her words.
Lela did not reserve her faith for the voters, but consistently went out of her way to pray for the other candidates and to show God’s love to them. She heeded the scriptural call to love her enemies—or opponents in this case—and to be a peacemaker by refusing to participate in disrespectful bickering. She offered encouraging comments instead. Many were shocked that she would be so considerate and respectful, but they appreciated her positive attitude towards them.
Ted Cruz, the opponent who ended up winning the primary, demonstrated his appreciation and respect for her actions by asking her to join his staff three days after he defeated her in the election. She became Cruz’s surrogate, speaking on his behalf at campaign stops around the state. When Cruz was elected, Lela became a Regional Director for his office, which involves communicating the needs of the state to the senator and vice versa.
However, Lela doesn’t jump to political solutions for every problem. Instead, she tries to help people address their concerns privately, connecting those in need with private charities or other individuals that can help them. God repeatedly commands that we meet the needs of the poor, so she believes that it is important for Christians first to meet the needs of those around them and then to share the gospel with them after demonstrating God’s love.
When asked about how she remains so sensitive to God’s call, Lela explained that she makes spending quiet time with God a top priority. “If the devil can’t keep you, he’ll keep you busy,” she quoted, explaining that ignoring quiet, personal time with God leaves us disconnected and makes hearing his voice all the more difficult. Lela truly treasures her quiet time, saying that her relationship with God is an adventure. She can’t wait to see what else he has in store.
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