The Enduring Legacy of C.S. Lewis: A Life of Integrity

Christian Fantasy God Writing

Time Cover featuring C.S. LewisTwo years ago, the C.S. Lewis foundation began the process of creating a college under his name, one that would reflect his pursuit of Christianity within the academic realm. They want to hold a high intellectual standard, while encouraging discussion of faith and highlighting Christian principles.

Such an endeavor will take time to establish, but it speaks highly of C.S. Lewis that he set a standard for many generations to follow. So what does it take to make that kind of impact? Certainly he had a brilliant mind, a strong education, and the influence of being an Oxford professor whose books, radio presentations, and lectures reached many thousands.

The list of his abilities and achievements could go on much longer, yet at the core of all his accomplishments was character and a life of faith. He viewed integrity as “doing the right thing, even when no one is watching,” and he appeared to live by that standard. He wasn’t afraid to wrestle with difficult questions of faith, yet his commitment to God preserved him even through the most difficult of circumstances.

Moreover, he possessed a character trait not always found in those of great influence, a strong humility that endured despite his achievements. I believe that this humility allowed God to increase his impact on those around him. He’s an excellent example of a storyteller–and more specifically, a fantasy writer–whose skills flourished due a life surrendered to God.

A humble heart leads to growth in all areas, including story craft. It causes more effective writing, because it sparks a genuine care for readers and a willingness to learn and improve no matter our level of experience. It leads to greater creativity, because we’re not limited to our own endeavors or perspectives. And in fantasy, that choice to look past ourselves gives readers a look “beyond,” a glimpse at something more than this world has to offer.

When we put God first in our lives, we will reflect Him in our work, whether in our writing or other endeavors. Perhaps we won’t have the degree of outward influence that Lewis did, but in the eyes of God we will succeed…and He will make of us what He desires.

Your thoughts?


  • Janeen Ippolito
    August 7, 2012 - 1:08 pm · Reply

    I love your focus on humility, and the positive impact surrendering to God has in writing. This is something I learn and relearn. Lack of humility is what often causes my “writing refusals”–which, unlike writers blocks, are situations when I have the inspiration, but I don’t have the will. Often it comes down to an inner desire to avoid doing something poorly or stupid. Fear of failure, which ultimately stems out of pride and self-protection. And only God had truly knock down those walls, again and again, and show me that it’s only in listening to Him and His will that I can do anything good.

    • Mary Ruth Pursselley
      August 7, 2012 - 2:11 pm · Reply

      Very true. I’ve discovered that there is a delicate balance, though, between striving to do well out of pride and striving to do well as a reflection on the One I’m doing it for. That was a problem I struggled viciously with while completing the manuscript of my first novel. God had presented me with an amazing opportunity to pursue publication, but there were still so many things about the story and the writing that I wanted to expand on or improve, that I didn’t want to take the opportunity presented. It was difficult to realize that a good part of my struggle was born of my own pride in wanting to make my manuscript ‘absolutely perfect’, when really all God wanted me to do was to tell the story.

      Great post, Sarah. C.S. Lewis is a huge role model for me, so I love hearing things like this.

      • Sarah Sawyer
        August 13, 2012 - 2:56 pm · Reply

        Mary, that’s a great point about the different motives for seeking to do things well. If I don’t feel like something is done to the best of my ability, I struggle to move forward. Part of it is that I strongly believe excellence in our work reflects Christ, but at times it’s my perfectionist streak coming through. The truth is that it’s impossible to write a “perfect” book, and that’s why it’s so valuable to approach writing as a partnership with God, so He can give us wisdom when we can’t see clearly.

        What you’ve shared is an excellent example of what it looks like to follow God’s prompting in such a case, and it’s encouraging to hear how He worked in your situation. 🙂

    • Sarah Sawyer
      August 13, 2012 - 2:55 pm · Reply

      Thanks for sharing about your journey, Janeen. It amazes me how God uses something like writing to refine and test our character–through challenges and successes alike.

      For me fear in the writing journey usually comes not in a “refusal” to write, but in a fear of sharing my work with others. At my first writing conference, I faced this head on. There’s nothing like sitting there while a well-known editor reads your work right in front of you…and waiting for her response! Thankfully, I’ve had very positive experiences that have helped me be less intimidated, and I’ve also learned to recognize it’s simply part of the whole process.

      I do think when we walk in humility, these sorts of fears lessen. I’m glad you brought up that aspect of the topic, because it’s an important one.

  • Maria Tatham
    August 7, 2012 - 6:13 pm · Reply

    Sarah, once again you’ve focused on something essential. Humility is necessary in order to see Him, and others, and ourselves rightly, as far as is possible now. But we can’t work it up on our own. Even in this attitude, it’s “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. Only He can GET us there, as the Shaker hymn says, “…down, where we ought to be.”
    Thank you!
    Best wishes and prayers,

    • Sarah Sawyer
      August 13, 2012 - 2:56 pm · Reply

      Humility is necessary in order to see Him, and others, and ourselves rightly, as far as is possible now.

      Well put, Maria! It does take God to help us walk in true humility…thankfully, He gives us that grace!

    • Sarah Sawyer
      August 13, 2012 - 2:57 pm · Reply

      That’s what amazes me. Often when people have such brilliant abilities, they tend toward self-reliance and even arrogance, but it seems he managed to escape that trap.

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