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Faith and Politics: Joshua DuBois on Counseling President Obama with Daily Devotions

Each morning for the past five years, Joshua DuBois has emailed inspirational words of wisdom to President Barack Obama.

For the past five years, Joshua DuBois has emailed a Bible passage, inspirational quotes and prayers to President Barack Obama every morning. It is a gesture “that has meant the world to me,” said the president. In his new book, The President’s Devotional: The Daily Readings That Inspired President Obama, DuBois, a Pentecostal preacher, shares the daily devotionals that helped President Obama stay calm in the storm.

ESSENCE: You joined the Obama campaign as religious affairs director at age 24. How did you meet him?
JOSHUA DuBOIS: In 2004 I was in a D.C. dive bar watching then Senator Barack Obama give his Democratic National Committee speech, and I wrote to the campaign several times. I eventually joined them.

ESSENCE: When did the President ask you to start sending daily devotionals?
J.D.: On the 2008 campaign. He was experiencing the challenges of a national campaign and wanted some spiritual edification and guidance, so I happily started sending them to him.

ESSENCE: How did you select the quotes, scriptures and passages?
J.D.: I tried to think about how a busy man with so many pressures on his mind and in his life can connect with a changeless God. I would go out and find either scripture or songs or quotes that would teach different lessons. And in the book, there are quotes ranging from the Old and New Testament to Nina Simone and James Baldwin.

ESSENCE: What have you learned from giving spiritual guidance to the leader of the free world?
J.D.: We are all dealing with similar things, whether it’s the President of the United States or the people who I think will be reading this book.

ESSENCE: We love the section where the President is coaching Sasha’s basketball team and quite nervous about their chances of becoming league champions. What is the meaning of family first?
J.D.: Family is everything to President Obama. His relationship with his wife, Michelle, and his two girls is the most important aspect of his life.

ESSENCE: Are there any particular passages or scriptures the President has ever shared with you?
J.D.: It was moving to hear the President speaking to the situation after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and providing words of scripture and comfort to those families and to the nation.

ESSENCE: There were times when you didn’t agree with the President, like on the contraceptive coverage mandate. How did you learn from these disagreements?
J.D.: Even when you disagree with someone, you can’t question his integrity, his honesty or his goodwill.

ESSENCE: In addition to the variety of lessons, what do you want readers to take away?
J.D.: I hope that this book helps people deepen their walk with God in the midst of very busy lives.

Joshua DuBois leads the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. His book The President’s Devotional: The Daily Readings That Inspired President Obama is out now.