Q and A with Lisa Schultz
Lisa Schultz is the Chief of Staff for United States Senate Chaplain Barry C. Black. She directs all of Chaplain Black’s programs and outreach to Senators, their families, and hundreds of Senate staff. Schultz has spent 15 years overseeing Capitol Hill-focused ministries, first as Director of Outreach for the D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship and the last 11 years for the Senate Chaplain. Prior to her time serving on Capitol Hill, she lived as a missionary in Schladming, Austria, for seven years under the umbrella of Torchbearers International.
At Christian Union’s Nexus Student Conference in February, Schultz was a member of the law and government panel during the vocational breakout sessions.
CU MAGAZINE: How did you like interacting with students at Nexus?
LISA SCHULTZ: I was incredibly encouraged in my faith during the Nexus Conference. It was refreshing to see so many students [from leading universities] praising the Lord in worship. During the meal times I spoke to a number of the participants and it was evident that everyone I encountered had a strong desire to pursue God.
CU: At Nexus, you encouraged students to pursue a career in government. Why do you feel strongly about this?
LS: As Christians we look forward to the day when God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Until that time, our work should be to renew this broken world and bring His kingdom to earth, here and now! Working in government allows Christians to impact our world for good in beautiful ways and to restore what has been broken. It would be such a joy to see more people who love and walk with Jesus play a vital role in shaping the way our country is governed and impacting the laws we make.
CU: What are some of the unique challenges your office faces and how does your faith play a role?
LS: Thankfully, we have been viewed as making a positive impact on Capitol Hill by Senators and staff alike. One unique and ongoing challenge for me at work is to see everyone through the lens of Christ, not simply as a Republican or Democrat, or as someone who works for [a certain Senator]. In 1 Samuel 16:7, the Lord reminds us that men look at the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart. I know that God loves the whole world and calls us to do the same.
CU: Did previously working as a missionary help prepare you for this role?
LS: Overseas missionary work taught me countless lessons about how to trust God and how to rely on Him in situations where I have been uncomfortable, weak, or felt insecure. Somehow, at age 21, I found myself living in a small ski town in the Austrian Alps teaching people about Jesus. I was a girl from Oklahoma who spent entire summers playing in my backyard pool. I learned to trust God to do things that I could not do on my own. Fast forward to today and I still fight the same fears that I had back in Austria, only I’m in Washington, D.C. I never studied politics, I was terrible in school, I definitely did not graduate from an Ivy League university—so working on Capitol Hill was “slightly” out of my comfort zone. Thankfully, the Lord has taught me to trust in Him in areas where I am weak. This has been a pattern God has used in my life, and I find Him faithful every time. Where I am weak, He is strong.
CU: What are the programs and outreaches to Senators, their families, and their staffs?
LS: The Senate Chaplain’s office mission is to support the 7,000 plus Senate staff and Senators in their spiritual lives. Because I am a Christian, I can minister to Christians, including teaching a small group Bible study every week. I also host ladies’ tea events and men’s breakfasts in the Capitol to encourage Senate staff. Besides opening up the Senate every day in prayer, Chaplain Black leads four Bible studies every week; two for Senate staff, one for Senators only, and one for Chiefs of Staff/Directors. We have spiritual mentoring programs, a guest chaplain program, and host Jewish events. Our staff is available for personal counseling and our office door is always open.
CU: How has working for the Senate Chaplain changed you?
LS: Working for Chaplain Black has, I hope, made me a more thoughtful, kinder, more empathetic Christian. Becoming friends and studying Scripture with people of all backgrounds, with different political convictions, I have found myself more open to listening than speaking. I am grateful for the opportunity to get to know and understand people who are very different than I.
CU: How does your office try to bring people together in a very partisan city?
LS: I really believe that Jesus operated out of love—love that broke down barriers. This love captured the hearts and lives of His followers. His radical love for all people was astounding. I pray our office can do the same thing, that, through our being filled with the Holy Spirit, we can love people into the kingdom.
Every day, before my boss prays before the opening of the Senate, our office says a prayer for his prayer. I always ask the Lord to fill Chaplain Black with wisdom and the Holy Spirit. I know that this makes a difference. If we stay closely connected to the vine, Jesus will bring people together through us.
To answer this question in a more practical way, all of our staff events are attended by both Democrats and Republicans. Our events bring people together both physically and, more importantly, spiritually. Currently, in my Bible study group, I have staff from the Sergeant at Arms, Capitol Police, and the Secretary of the Senate. We pray together and read the Bible together. Once these friendships are formed, barriers break down, and people can begin to see each other through the lens of Christ.
CU: How does your faith sustain you?
LS: I have a difficult time understanding how people can survive without having faith. Faith brings me peace in the midst of chaos on Capitol Hill. For eight hours a day, five days a week, I see press and media groups frantically running around, chasing Senators, because every day we have breaking news. The world seems to be falling apart and lest I forget for a few waking hours, I work in the center of the Capitol building. I have participated in a number of lockdowns and cannot walk but a few feet in the hallway before encountering Capitol Police...for a reason. My hope has to be in an unshakeable God. He is the answer to a world that lives in great fear.
CU: What Bible verses relate to your job and ministering to high-level leaders?
LS: While it sounds a bit redundant, I find myself quoting Romans 8:28 often. The Lord does cause “all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” This truth doesn’t change after an election. God is always working for the good of His people and He is for us. Another verse that has resonated for me is Daniel 2:21, “He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.” This verse helps me to remember that, indeed, it is God who is in control over our rulers and those who govern.