DBU Oxford Seminar Day 4

Key themes encountered:

Incarnational Excellence

C. S. Lewis


             We sat where he sat. We walked where he walked. We ate what he ate. C. S. Lewis, a man of simple language and profound insight, many would argue has been the foremost leader in the defense of Christian thought in the twentieth and twenty-first century. His ideas and portrayal of spiritual realities through storytelling gave Christians and non-Christians a new way of looking at the gospel and understanding God’s truths. After the Bible, I would argue, I have heard more quotes from Lewis from behind the pulpit than from any other Christian author. 

            Yet, in all his fame and notoriety, as Dr. Nelson pointed out at the Kilns, Lewis’ humility was another defining characteristic of his legacy. Traditionally a leader’s character is an aspect which followers demand be of a worthy standard and of which there is often little forgiveness when it comes to shortcomings. No one is perfect – we all know this – nevertheless, how often do we see the reputation and lifelong work of some of our most respected spiritual and moral figures become tarnished at the onset of rumors, accusations, or discoveries of impropriety? Lewis lived in humble situations and handled money charitably (many would also argue ineptly). We learned that he was careful to guard himself against the image of impropriety and was known for taking care of those who were his family and closest friends. 

            These great moral characteristics by which many of our most profound Christian leaders are identified, naturally, are in high demand and often non-negotiables for positions of pastoral and ministry leadership. The standard for Christians is the Bible and so we have this as a ruler by which we measure our leaders. With leaders on non-religious institutions, however, to what do we hold them accountable to? To what standards are CEOs, foremen, supervisors, shift-leaders, and statesmen accountable? If Christians are not called to these positions then there is no standard of morality and conduct required of such people, but if Christ-followers are summoned to fill such roles then there is no reason why such individuals should not exemplify the most noble disposition.