Monday, February 18, 2008

12 Characteristics

I returned from a youth retreat yesterday to find that my wife had bought me the book “William Wilberforce: Greatest Works,” edited by Lloyd B. Hildebrand and published by Bridge-Logos.

In a chapter on the Clapham Group, Hildebrand notes a dozen characteristics of this group that accomplished so much in the abolition of legalized slavery in the 1800s:

They set clear and specific goals

They researched carefully to produce reliable and irrefutable evidence

They built a committed support community. The battle could not be carried on alone


They refused to accept setbacks as final defeats


They committed to the struggle for the long haul, even if it took decades


They focused on issues, not allowing opponents’ vicious attacks on their person to distract them or provoke them into similar response


They empathized with opponents’ position so that meaningful interaction could take place


They accepted incremental gains when everything could not be achieved at once


They cultivated grassroots support when rebuffed by those in power


They transcended single-issue mentality by addressing issues as part of [the] overall moral climate


They worked through recognized channels without resort[ing] to dirty tactics or violence


They proceeded with a sense of mission and conviction that God would providentially guide if they were truly acting in His service.

I don’t know if they had the wisdom to incorporate these characteristics right
from the start, or if the characteristics came from lessons learned in the public square, or if the group simply stumbled upon them as they went, but they certainly are the kinds of characteristics that can help win the day. May our group, and all modern-day abolitionists, develop these characteristics as we fight this battle.

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