“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
-1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
From the time my first son was born I have been a fan of C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. During my sons’ formative years, we probably read through the entire series — aloud — at least seven times. This does not include the various other times I read one or another of the books for the enjoyment of it.
In book five (according to the copyright date — don’t get me started) titled The Horse and His Boy, we encounter a character who, despite his brief appearance in this one volume, made a real impression on me. I am referring to King Lune of Archenland, a model of manliness as I hope you’ll see in the following passage:
“As was certain to happen sooner or later, King Lune said it was time for young people to be in bed. “And tomorrow, Cor,” he added, “shalt come over all the castle with me and see the estate, and mark all its strength and weakness: for it will be thine to guard when I’m gone.”
“But Corin will be the King then, Father,” said Cor.
“Nay, lad,” said King Lune, “thou art my heir. The crown comes to thee.”
“But I don’t want it,” said Cor. “I’d far rather–”
“‘Tis no question what thou wantest, Cor, nor I either. ‘Tis in the course of law.”
“But if we’re twins we must be the same age.”
“Nay,” said the King with a laugh. “One must come first. Art Corin’s elder by full twenty minutes. And his better too, let’s hope, though that’s no great mastery.” And he looked at Corin with a twinkle in his eyes.
“But, Father, couldn’t you make whichever you like to be the next King?”
“No. The King’s under the law, for it’s the law makes him a king. Hast no more power to start away from thy crown than any sentry from his post.”
“Oh dear,” said Cor. “I don’t want to at all. And Corin– I am most dreadfully sorry. I never dreamed my turning up was going to chisel you out of your kingdom.”
“Hurrah! Hurrah!” said Corin. “I shan’t have to be king. I shan’t have to be king. I’ll always be a prince. It’s princes have all the fun.”
“And that’s truer than thy brother knows, Cor,” said King Lune. “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”
As a man, you are made to exercise your masculine strength. If you’re called to be a husband, your mission is to be her head and to lead your wife toward ever-increasing Christlikeness. If you’re blessed to be a father, your mission is to teach your children and train them in right living under the grace of God. This type of spiritual headship has been described as a man’s being the king of his castle.
If you’re a leader — a king — here are four concepts I offer for your consideration, based on the example of good King Lune.
Even kings are under authority
King Lune submits to the law, making him a moral and just leader. If you read the entire series, you’ll understand that in the fictional realm of Narnia, there are laws because there is a transcendent law-giver. So Lune wouldn’t have tried to change the law even if he wanted to. This is consistent with the saying that we are a country of laws, not men. Everyone is subject to the same standard, even the king.
A king has a duty – he is not his own
Everyone in Archenland has his role. As Lune points out, it isn’t a matter of what he, his son or anyone else prefers. If your job is to be king, then by all means rule. The monarch can’t shirk his responsibilities any more than a soldier or a sentry in the king’s army can be derelict in his. As Robert E. Lee said, “You should do your duty in all things. You can never do more, you should never wish to do less.”
A king leads from the front
As Lune explains to his son what it means to be king, he models a concept known as leading from the front. A good king is first in every charge, and the last man in every retreat. He puts his own life on the line in battle, since it is by his authority that the kingdom is at war. If there are hard times, he bears them with his subjects and doesn’t exempt or isolate himself from the suffering in his domain. The motto at the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School is Ductus exemplo — lead by example.
A king sets the tone for those in his kingdom
Note that King Lune is no politician. He doesn’t promise never-ending prosperity, and he recognizes that bad years will come. He understands and articulates that in those circumstances a good king doesn’t go into hiding. Rather he brightens his attitude and those of his people by force of his optimism. He wears fine clothes and laughs despite the lack of food on his plate because he has hope.
A husband and a father needs to be strong before his wife and children in this same way. They are looking to their leader — you — to set the emotional and spiritual tone in good and bad times. I personally couldn’t do this without God’s help, but I do it because I have hope