When Goodness is Thrilling

C. S. Lewis quote about him  how thrilling he makes goodness

This past week I did something a little unusual. I listed to at least a half dozen sermons from various radio preachers. Three of them were very good communicators. Two were pretty good, the third - well... let me just say, "he must have missed his true calling." BUT... even the good communicators, it hit me, were all on the negative side. They were each focusing on what is wrong, what it is evil, what it will do to the one who embraces it... Even though they were true messages (and needed), there was very little "redemption" in them except for a tag line at the end. "This is why you need Jesus."

I am also struck by the number of major films that had Oscar nominations... and of which, there is little or no redemption. The evil, broken characters are portrayed magnificently. You really do come to feel "dirty" as you watch their characters in action. Goodness is missing from the characters and the stories. (For example, see: August: Osage County.)

This is not an easy thing, to make goodness thrilling. It takes far more skill to talk about the goodness of virtue than to describe the badness of sin.

It is easy to preach against what is wrong... but to make a persuasive, compelling, attractive case for goodness - that is hard. It is hard because the speaker, story-teller, writer must have experienced sufficiently the goodness that is to be described. How can we truly name what we do not live? It is hard. That is why words torrent and tumble when speaking about hurt, brokenness, damage, dysfunction, suffering. That is why the words trickle when we speak of holiness, humility, gratitude, awe and wonder.

C. S. Lewis was one of those with both imagination and intellect, experience and reflection who could write well about what is good. His readers experienced it. His friends loved him for it (like Kenneth Tynam). Whether it was on love (The Four Loves) or heaven (The Great Divorce) or joy (Surprised by Joy) - Lewis made what is good so desirable. He shaped our longing for what we truly desire.

I think this is one of the greatest contributions leaders, teachers, mentors, directors can offer to those entrusted into our care. Helping them see and long for what is good, true, beautiful and just.

May you have such a growing ability to do this very thing.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International