Kindness and Co-Belligerence
What is it like to work for Mark Rodgers? Rock stars serenade him, a Presidential candidate listens to him, and people in DC, LA, NYC, and Nashville adore him. I often joke that Mark Rodgers is the most influential Christian that no one will ever write a book about. There’s nothing flashy about Mark. He is pure hard work. An old backpack carries an old computer worn by a man wearing old shoes. Yet behind this is a brilliance that is changing the world.
March 30th marks my last day with the Clapham Group as my family and I resettle in Colorado. I helped co-found Clapham in January of 2007. I served with Mark at the Senate Republican Conference and then had a job offer to work with him for 6 weeks on the film Amazing Grace. 5 1/2 years later I’m Mark’s longest serving staffer. I know him well and I’ve been incredibly blessed to have been mentored by this history maker.
To understand Mark, you need to understand William Wilberforce and the Clapham Community (our namesake). Mark’s office walls are covered with material from the original Clapham community. Wilberforce and fellow social revolutionaries Hannah Moore, Thomas Clarkson, and others labored to bring about broad social change. They are most famous for helping end the slave trade in the UK, but they also sought to improve education for the poor, working conditions, and started the first society for the prevention of cruelty to animals. They worked to improve the social manners of the day: how we treated each other and what were acceptable moral actions. They were broad social revolutionaries, rooted in a deep Evangelical faith, which made a big impact in their time.
Mark’s daily work is to continue their legacy. And similar to the original Clapham Community, Mark’s work is founded upon his faith. And out of that foundation pours the hallmarks of Mark’s labor: kindness and co-belligerence.
The first thing you notice about Mark is his kindness. I often have to catch myself and marvel at the fact that Senator Santorum’s chief aide and Bono’s close friend is taking time to listen to my concerns. But then, that was a problem we often had with Mark as his staffers. He is always willing to meet, to listen, to dream with people, even to the chagrin of his more ‘priority conscience’ staff. No matter who you are, Mark has time for you. This character trait of Mark has deeply impacted me. For Mark, titles don’t exist. It’s about you.
The second hallmark you quickly learn working for him is the practice of co-belligerence. For Mark, we don’t have to agree on everything to work together. Let’s find the common ground and partner together to move our cause forward. In a world marked by greater and greater division, Mark’s practice of co-belligerence is a breath of fresh air. Mark focuses on our commonalities, not our differences. Couple this with kindness, a brilliant campaign mind, and you have a person that is really changing the world.
Mark and I will continue to labor together for a better world. It comes from a common faith and belief that God is doing the same and invites us to join Him. My 5+ years with Mark have so impacted me that I’m already forming a little Clapham community in Colorado based upon kindness and co-belligerence.
Mark – You are one of the most remarkable people of our generation. You walk with eyes of faith, you often see what I can’t, and you love people with profound compassion. You have not only carried on the legacy of the Clapham community, you are exceeding it. Well done, good and faithful servant.