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Jefferson and Wilberforce: Leaders Who Shaped Their Times

(This is a three-part series on Jefferson and Wilberforce:
Leaders Who Shaped Their Times  Part 1, Part 2Part 3)

Leadership, even godly leadership, is not the sole province of the individual, but the outcomes are often shaped as much by those who advise, support, encourage, and come alongside a leader. It is within a network of relationships or of a like-minded community that the great movements of change occur. Those with whom leaders surround themselves, their choice of companions on the journey, help to make them who they are and determine what they can achieve. These colleagues also help to further shape and to sustain a transforming vision over time and bring it to reality. We have looked at the role of early mentors in shaping the commitments of Jefferson and Wilberforce; we now turn to examine how those around them later in life helped to sustain their purposes.

Leading Societal Change

Contemporary research on leading transformative change posits three key factors if societal and cultural change is to be successfully initiated: (1) a sense of urgency or great importance; (2) a compelling vision for change that captures the hearts and the minds of a wide group of people; and, (3) a guiding coalition which has the prestige and the capacity to help bring about the change envisioned.1 How these factors played out in the lives of Jefferson and Wilberforce is yet another telling contrast of the results of their commitments to ending slavery. . .

Ray Blunt

Ray Blunt, Professor, teaches philosophy and worldview at Ad Fontes Academy high school and is a Senior Fellow at The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture. He was previously an Adjunct Professor for Leadership and Business Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. A 1964 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, he holds a master’s degree in economics and political science as well as master’s in theological studies. He is the author of numerous articles on leadership, character, vocation, and change management and two books: Crossed Lives, Crossed Purposes: Why Thomas Jefferson Failed and William Wilberforce Persisted to Lead an End to Slavery, Wipf and Stock, 2012, and “Leaders Growing Leaders” in The Jossey-Bass Reader on Nonprofit and Public Leadership, 2011.


COPYRIGHT: This publication is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.

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