Arts & Culture & At Work

A Word on Vocation and Commitment from Lewis and Tolkien

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Last week Joe Laconte, a history professor at The King’s College, gave a fascinating talk at the Trinity Forum detailing the impact of World War I on the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. His lecture and interaction with the audience revealed something we can all learn from Lewis and Tolkien regarding our commitment to our vocations.

During the Q&A, at the 56:10 mark, a man asks,

When Charles Colson died, everybody at the funeral got a lapel pin. It said “Remain at your posts, do your duty.” [What] would you think that Tolkien and Lewis would tell us today…what is our post, what is our duty?

Laconte’s response was a rumination on vocation, excellence, and integrity.

“They felt their own particular sense of calling and vocation was in writing and literature…that’s the genre, that’s the field they wanted to be successful in. That’s part of the reason they devoted themselves to meet together in the Inklings to help each other become the best at their craft,” Laconte explains.

He goes on to share how Lewis and Tolkien were so committed to excelling at their art that they met for sixteen years, including through the “chaos of World War II,” to sharpen each other in their work.

These men were devoted to excellence and integrity in their craft.

This is the lesson about vocation we can learn from Lewis and Tolkien. Laconte argues it’s a lesson for anyone in any vocation. We have to make a commitment in our own individual callings to say,

Before God, I want to be a person of integrity and excellence in this craft, because I know at the end of the day that is going to have ripple effects that I can’t anticipate.

Lewis and Tolkien couldn’t have known the far-reaching influence their work would have on people, even today. What they could control is their commitment to their calling.

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