pretend your way through the new year

This isn’t too specifically collegiate, but it is an encouragement for you as you begin another calendar year of leadership. My encouragement is to pretend. A lot. In fact, I think you’ll have to if you want to be the leader, collegian-impacter, and Christ-follower you want to be.

From C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one of the most impactful passages (on me) in an incredibly life-forming (for me) book:

After noting that we’re regularly “dressing up as Christ,” he writes,

Why? What is the good of pretending to be what you are not? Well, even on the human level, you know, there are two kinds of pretending. There is a bad kind, where the pretence is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you. But there is also a good kind, where the pretence leads up to the real thing. When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are. And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were. Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grownups—playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.
Now, the moment you realise “Here I am, dressing up as Christ,” it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going there if you were really a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realise that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash-up. Well, go and do it.

Proper obedience to the Lord – whether the command is to love, to spend time with Him, to serve others, or anything else – is not comprised of “feel-like” nearly as much as we (and our college students) tend to assume. “Not feeling like it” isn’t actually the same as “not wanting to”; all the time in our lives we do things we would say we “don’t want to do” when in reality we only don’t feel like it. If, in fact, we actually end up doing it, then apparently we did – technically – “want to.” Right?

In any case, loving your students or your family or your coworkers… discipling that tough kid… growing in your own walk… whatever needs to be done… can be done before your so-called “heart” is completely “there.” That’s an encouraging fact to me. It’s not that the heart/hope/feel-like doesn’t matter, but sometimes it needs to be led (and never followed).

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