As we fly over “the pond” having read introductory information on the history of England, Oxford, and many of its historical figures, it is quite evident the amount of influence single, particular individuals had in the formation and suppression of reforming movements. Unlike the situation most democratic and republic nations are in today, throughout most of England’s history power was not distributed, rather it appeared most concentrated in the hands of those situated near the top of religious and political hierarchies. Institutions were shaped, decisions made, mostly without the consultation of the general population, such as through vote or representation, and by edict of bishops and monarchs.
Today many reformative developments within nations cannot be accomplished or accepted without the consent of the general population. The U.S. cannot commit itself to war or to funding its citizen’s healthcare without elected representatives of the people giving their vote. Also, at times the general population wields informal, soft power by way of marches and social media campaigns that bring forth large scale focus and changes to the issues they feel most pressed with. For example, the outcry of many citizens in the U.S. regarding the separation of illegal immigrant children from their captive illegal immigrant parents along the U.S. border pushed President Trump’s hand to soften his executive guidance about laws related to captured illegal immigrants.
However, this largely twenty-first century phenomenon of distributed power does not invalidate people’s attention and attraction to strong, individual leaders. This detail here is what intrigues me most about leadership in the twenty-first century. With the ability that our world has to collaborate, garner soft power, and influence large-scale change across regions, people groups still look to a person to represent or personify their cause and values and at times accomplish it for them. Without a doubt the English reformers we will examine will embody some, if not all, the values we look for in those we want to follow. The question for the newly empowered general population is whether or not we will begin to fully epitomize what we value and become the leaders we and many of our subjugated ancestors have admired from afar. Will we solely offer our support, sign a petition, and cast our vote, or will we become the incarnational agent of all we value and believe and lead a reformation, a revolution, in our world’s dire state?
During this trip my goal is to appreciate the leadership and reformative actions of English and Christian heroes throughout history. I hope to appreciate them for what they did, why they did it, and in their historical context and not offer judgements of them, whether negative or positive, but grasp the magnitude and limitations of their influence. I then want to look at my current historical and cultural context to understand not only which potential leadership opportunities the Lord may be guiding me towards but also what values, principles, and causes I will be most prepared to embody so that I can become the incarnational leader God requires of me.