Sunday, September 9, 2007

C. S. Lewis in a Time of War: Learning from Lewis's Work Ethic

How do you distinguish between working too hard and being lazy?

C. S. Lewis had to make that choice during World War Two. Besides his duties as an Oxford professor, Lewis also kept busy giving talks at various RAF (Royal Air Force) bases throughout the country. The invitation by the BBC to give Radio Talks was inconvenient and would put more pressure on his time, but Lewis could not turn down the opportunity. So Justin Phillips tells us in C. S. Lewis in a Time of War (HarperCollins 2002).

Lewis turned out to be a captivating broadcaster, and the "Broadcast Talks" kept Britain riveted to their radios when he was on the air. These Talks became Mere Christianity, perhaps Lewis's best-known non-fiction book. There might have been more of these talks, but Lewis knew he had limit, despite pressure from the BBC to do more. (Phillips speculates that this may have been a good thing. Lewis might have gained celebrity status and actually weakened his influence in the process. We will never know.)

Phillips mentions that Lewis had confided in a friend that he was naturally lazy (p.63). But Lewis certainly did not have a lazy mind, and was willing to work, especially on projects where he would have a positive influence. And I am sure he believed his work ethic was as much a part of his spiritual life as going to church on Sunday. It is so easy to not take advantage of opportunities God gives us by making the excuse that we are "too busy." Certainly we need to be aware of our physical limitations. But, perhaps it is more often closer to the truth that we are just "too lazy."

1 comment:

Mark said...

Note: This book was first published in the British Commonwealth as C. S. Lewis at the BBC in 2002.