21 March 2007

Drawing Inspiration

In his meditation Standing on the Shoulders of Giants in The Difference Magazine, a copy of which many people reading this blog will hopefully now have obtained, Michael Bates asks the question "Who inspires me and why?" One of the purposes of this blog is to encourage discussion and participation in debate among readers of the magazine - so, who inspires you and why?


James said...

Lord Shaftesbury - like Wilberforce, another great social campaigner.

Rebecca said...

Mother Theresa - because of her indefatigable merciful action and her faith.

Andrew Kennedy said...

For me, inspitation does not come from individuals, but from individual acts of personal courage and outstanding political leadership.

Churchill's opposition to appeasement; Nye Bevan's resignation over health charges and nuclear weapons, the resignations of Powell and Thorneycroft in 1958 over spending; Keith Joseph's public conversion to economic liberalism, the courage and dignity of Gerry Fitt, and more recently, Kate Hoey and Frank Field (and even Ken Livingstone) for having the courage to do what they believe to be right.

Many of the politicians mentioned above would not rank highly in my list of hero's - but their personal courage and leadership at certain times have indeed inspired.

Lyndon Bowring said...

Wilberforce is a great inspiraction to me. This outstanding Christian man, with the support of friends like William Pitt the Younger, whom he met when they were students at Cambridge, succeeded in bringing about a worldwide social transformation. Both Pitt and Wilberforce were elected to Parliament by the age of 21 and within a short time Pitt became Prime Minister and was a faithful supporter of Wilberforce in his anti-slavery campaign.

Although Wilberforce is renowned and honoured for his work to abolish 'the pernicious trade in slaves', he also had a further spiritual goal - nothing less than the transformation of the nation, or as he called it, 'the reformation of manners', through the power of the gospel. Wilberforce opened the way for other godly evangelical men and women to follow. In the ninteenth century, society was radically changed through the work of Christian activists such as Lord Shaftesbury, Thomas Barnardo, Elizabeth Fry and Florence Nightingale, who poured out their lives on behalf of disadvantaged and disabled men, women and children. Subsequent generations have been hugely inspired by their leadership and have built on the foundations they laid, not only to improve people's health, education and social welfare in society, but also to bring about spiritual renewal. As Christians we are called to make a difference, to proclaim God's truth and demonstrate His love in tangible ways that can transform lives.

Just around the corner from my office here in Westminster is the headquarters of Channel 4 Television. In the entrance hall hangs a large canvas by the artist Mark Titchner displaying these words: 'We will not follow. We will not lead', paraphrasing Friedrich Nietzsche, the renowned atheist who despised Christianity and strongly influenced the thinking of Adolf Hitler.

Nothing could be further from the truth than this slogan especially for those of us who are called to follow Christ, and in turn lead others. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1 that we should 'Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ'. In today's increasingly secular society CARE is committed to seeing godly men and women raised up who will follow in the footsteps of Wilberforce and other Christian leaders like him.

Jesus said these challenging words: 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.' It is my fervent prayer that God will raise up 'labourers' in the harvest fields of Parliament, medicine, the charitable sector, education, the press, media and arts, humanities, social sciences, industry, advocacy and law, business, science, the entertainment industry, as well as world mission.