Aspiring to a Calling Worthy of the Name of Christ

by Guy Rodgers, President and CEO

He’s known as the leader of the movement to abolish the English slave trade. He was an enormous force for evangelism and reform, actively involving himself in some 70 church and mission societies over the course of his life. Upon his death he was buried at Westminster Abbey and a statue was erected in his memory.

His name was William Wilberforce.

His life, and the lives of those who associated with him in what became known as the “Clapham Sect,” are a model for close examination by those of us in and familiar with Pinnacle Forum. What do their lives teach us?

First, they were a close-knit Christian band of brothers and sisters. They encouraged each other, fellowshipped together, enabled each other and affirmed each other’s passions for spiritual and cultural reformation.

This is the ideal we are called to be and experience through Pinnacle Forum.

Second, their devotion to Christ was not confined to church, Sunday, or even family. They saw all of life as under the lordship of Christ, where faith is central to everything we do. As noted in an essay by Richard Gathro that appeared in a publication of the C.S. Lewis Institute, “They made no dichotomy between evangelism and social action.”

This is the ideal we are called to be and experience through Pinnacle Forum.

Third, they were leaders who understood the responsibility of stewarding their influence to advance the kingdom of God.

This is the ideal we are called to be and experience through Pinnacle Forum.

Fourth, as Gathro notes, “They shared a common commitment to Jesus Christ and a clear sense of calling.”

This is the ideal we are called to be and experience through Pinnacle Forum.

Fifth, they were strategic and intentional in executing plans and projects to change the world around them.

This is the ideal we are called to be and experience through Pinnacle Forum.

The Wilberforce School website summarizes the Clapham Sect in this way:

His [Wilberforce’s] partnership with his Christian brothers and sisters in the Clapham Sect serves as a model for Christians working together to bring about meaningful reform in society.

In other words, the vision and mission of Pinnacle Forum.

Yet had a young Wilberforce not determined to move from earthly success to eternal significance, it’s likely none of this would have happened.

Born into wealth, witty, popular and worldly, Wilberforce was elected to Parliament at the ripe old age of 21. But he found himself dissatisfied with his life, and in 1784, after being mentored by a wise Anglican cleric, he chose to devote himself fully to Christ.

And as they say, the rest is history.

But what would have happened to “history” had Wilberforce chosen earthly success rather than eternal significance?

More pointedly, what will happen to history if you and I make such a choice?

Let’s determine not to make that choice. Instead, let’s unite behind a bold vision for the future of Pinnacle Forum, a vision far bigger than any of us could dream alone.

A vision that we mature to a unique, nationwide, 21st century expression of the Clapham Sect.

That we truly and courageously realize the full potential of our motto, “Transforming Leaders to Transform Culture,” a motto that could have served the Clapham Sect just as it does Pinnacle Forum.

Our times cry out for this. Our times despair for Christian leaders who will joyfully embrace the words of William Carey, the “Father of Modern Protestant Missions,” who wrote, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”

I’m persuaded William Wilberforce would challenge us that, every day, we each have choices. Earthly success or eternal significance. Indifference or passion. Faith or cynicism. Complacency or commitment. Self-service or other-service. Self-sufficiency or God-sufficiency.

And we each have a unique role to play. No one can take your place or mine in the work and advancement of God’s kingdom. We were each uniquely created and we are each uniquely called.

At our National Conference, April 22 – 24, we will further unpack this vision and its implications for the future of this community called Pinnacle Forum.

If you haven’t already registered for our conference I exhort you to do so. Come be part of a bold, valiant vision.

Few of us will ever achieve the notoriety of a William Wilberforce, but that’s not what matters. To be part of a 21st century expression of the “Clapham Sect,” now that is a high calling to community worthy of the name of Christ.

And then let us behold with delight and wonder what God will do through a faithful remnant.

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