The Most Powerful Woman in Springfield

“Do you want to know who the most powerful woman in Springfield is?” he asked me over the counter. I can’t remember his name, but he was a contractor. I wondered if there had been some 417 Magazine article about up and coming women in our town. Or maybe there had been a write-up in the Springfield Business Journal regarding women CEO’s.

I limited my response to a friendly, “Sure”.

“She’s the gatekeeper at MSU.”

For those of you who don’t know, Missouri State University occupies several city blocks of Springfield and has grown rapidly over the last several decades. They are one of Springfield’s largest employers and a lot of money passes through that place.

“That’s right, ” he continued, “if you want to get on that campus to do your job, she has to raise that gate. Otherwise, you ain’t getting your job done.”

green metal gate with brown metal padlock

That conversation happened over ten years ago and among the countless thousands of little conversations I’ve had with contractors since, that one as stuck in my brain. “She’s the gatekeeper”. I don’t know this woman’s name, whether she still works there, and whether or not she was trustworthy. But as far as that contractor was concerned, the President of MSU didn’t wield a bigger stick than her. Which has gotten me to think about gatekeepers and their power.

In many ways it’s a scary world when the gatekeeping positions of our society have been taken over by ardent secularists. Think about the power that Facebook and Twitter have to use “fact checking” to remove posts, or to remove posts based on their arbitrary definitions of “hate speech”. Think about the power of Google to develop algorithms that direct people to specific points of view, or the power of Youtube to promote specific agendas. Think about how hard it has been, even for Ivory Tower academics, to make information public that goes against the accepted progressive narrative. It doesn’t surprise me that outlandish conspiracy theories such as those promoted by QAnon have gained so much traction. This is the inevitable counter to the totalitarian methods employed by the media, the storytellers, the Academia, and the judges of our nation. The secularists have done a better job of winning the culture because they have rightly identified where the gates are located and have hired those who are like-minded and canceled those who are not.

The right response to this reality is to accept the fact that every individual plays an important role of gate-keeper in their own life. I think one Bible word that describes this function is discernment. It’s the ability to keep certain things out and let certain things in. Judging by the best selling books and Bible studies I see in the sales magazines I get, discernment is a lost art.

Particularly in an election year, you need to keep your mind from being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of news available. Do you find yourself visiting certain sites or watching certain stations just so you can experience righteous indignation? Do you sense that your blood pressure fluctuates to the rhythms of your news watching? If so, it might be time to close the gate.

This simple principle can be applied to the stories that we watch and the books that we read. But discernment isn’t just about keeping things out; it’s also about letting things in. God’s Truth is something that ought to occupy our hearts to the point that the word of Christ is dwelling in us richly. Our exposure to truth should be frequent and saturating.

One final word: until this skill is learned, it is the job of parents to act as gate keepers for their children. So another plea from this pastor…please don’t let your kids have unlimited access to cell phone apps. Please monitor the things that they are taught in school. Please take them to church and read the Bible with them at home. Please teach them to guard their hearts with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

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