STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 08/21/2007

Up Front with President Carlberg

President Carlberg's column appears in every STILLPOINT. Visit the President's Page for more of his thoughts.   

R. Judson Carlberg, President

"We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible, so we will do them anyway!" --William Pitt, Prime Minister of England 1783-1801, 1804-06

In this issue of STILLPOINT we celebrate creative teachers and faithful mentors. What often sets Gordon faculty apart is their ability to help students to think and live with what has been called in scholarly discourse in recent years, the "moral imagination."

In his essay in this issue, "Nest of Wires: Belize and the Moral Imagination," our provost, Mark Sargent, makes the point that developing a moral imagination is essential to thinking both compassionately and creatively about human problems: "A moral imagination," he writes, "can be a lens that enables us to see the world more frankly and fully."

Some of the most compelling recent discussion of the moral imagination has appeared in business and management studies. One of the best-selling books on the art of moral leadership in recent years is Jim Collins' Good to Great. Collins says in identifying what it takes to have moral imagination in leadership, "These leaders blend extreme personal humility with intense personal will." Collins tells the story of the late Colman Mockler, for many years the respected CEO of the Gillette Company.

From time to time Colman and his wife, Joanna, invited Jan and me to their home for a summer cookout. One night Colman came home late after a long day in court listening to the arguments on whether an outside company could force its way into the Gillette executive suite through a hostile takeover. "What is at stake?" I asked.

Colman quietly replied, "The well-being of thousands of employees is at stake. The people who will benefit will be the investors who are motivated by money. My management team and board of directors and I look beyond to see the worldwide Gillette family, many of whom will lose their jobs if the company is bought out."

Mockler was not just an astute businessman, but a man of genuine moral imagination--a committed Christian who realized that he had an obligation that went far beyond his own personal interests. Joanna Mockler is now a leader in international Christian development, attending to the world's poor who need the hope of Jesus Christ in their lives. She also is a wonderful friend and supporter of scholarships at Gordon College.

People with moral imagination are often used by God to change the course of history. At age 21 William Wilberforce was elected to the British House of Commons. While he was still in his 20s, God ignited a passion in him to end slavery in the British Empire. Along with William Pitt, the future prime minister of England, and John Newton, a former captain of a slave ship turned clergyman, Wilberforce went into action. Pitt said of their quest: "We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible, so we will do them anyway!"

The political obstacles to halting the slave trade in the late 1700s were tremendous, and it would be 26 more years before Parliament finally voted in 1833, with the Emancipation Bill, to end slavery altogether. Three days after the vote Wilberforce died knowing that his moral imagination had led hundreds of thousands of people around the world to freedom.

May the faculty of Gordon College nurture even more graduates known for their moral imagination! The Church needs them, our nation seeks them, and the world cries out for moral leadership firmly anchored in Christ, our great Savior.

Jim Collins, in his landmark book, explains how the most visionary business leadership involves a paradoxical combination of "extreme personal humility and intense personal will." For more information, tools and discussion guides, visit

On February 23 a gathering of alumni and friends of the College attended a special opening-night screening of the Walden Media film Amazing Grace. Kevin Belmonte '90, lead historical consultant for the film, addressed the audience afterward.

Gordon alumni are making a difference by thinking compassionately and creatively about human problems. CH (CPT) Andrew Shriver '95 and Milton "Milo" Chen '02 are just some of many. And current Gordon students are involved in outreach ranging from the Save Darfur Movement to the homeless ministry clothing drive.


Judson Carlberg