M. C. Lewis on Leadership

 mclewis.jpgThe following is a sermon written and delivered by my great-grandfather, Miles Clement Lewis sometime around 1928 or 1929. I am posting it so all of his descendants can know his thoughts. These are his words as he wrote them with a few edits for readability only. The copy I have is typewritten double spaced on four pages.

 I am publishing this so that my family and others can know a bit about the things that my great-grandfather thought about. The value for me is that I can know some of his thoughts about life whether I like them or not is immaterial. These were his thoughts and I am happy to be able to read them and “hear his heart”. Similarly, my hope with everything that I write on this jimazing blog is not that you agree with me, but that you hear my heart. I hope you enjoy this…



I. Qualities Necessary for LeadershipThe greatest need of the church today is for leaders–at least one of the greatest needs–active, energetic, earnest leaders. This is especially true of the S.S. Young People’s organizations. I believe it is also true of the church generally.There are churches who have leaders not able to read and write. (Is not this a bad condition?) However you and you and you as well as I are to blame. So long as those who are professed Christians, sit supinely at home and say, “Let George or some other person look after it,” the church is sure to lack leadership. –So if any of us, young or old, are indifferent, let’s get away from that lethargic condition and get busy.II. Interest in WorkOne quality necessary for leadership is interest in the work. Unless we have an interest or are interested in a thing, we will not make a success of it. I’ve seen boys in a ball team stroll listlessly onto the ball field and wait for the ball to come his way before he moves out of his tracks. He had no interest, no enthusiasm. Therefore, he would not be worth a picayune to the team. You would not choose him for captain of his team. You would know the team would be no good, rather you will fill his position with someone else just as soon as you can.

 III. Knowlege of Work

 One cannot lead others unless he first knows where he is going, what it is all about. There are leaders in the Council of Education who don’t know even what they are supposed to do, and do not try to find out. I never played a game of football–What could the football team do if I were coach? In the school room I may know how to proceed. But if I do not know the subject, would do nothing. Brother Leonard is a good song director–He knows what he is doing. He would not undertake to direct a song if he knew nothing about music or did not know the song

 IV. Personality

 Another requisite is a good personality. Personality is hard to define–sometimes we call it “It”. There are persons who have an attractive personality; others whose personality is repellent. A leader requires a positive – dynamic, energetic personality. One that he will make decisions and stand by them – one who will set a goal and strive to reach that goal. One that knows what to do and does it. You say, “but people are born with a personality.” That is true, but that personality will be of no value unless you develop it and strive to overcome any bad qualities. Anyone can learn to be clean, take care of his teeth, fingernails etc.

 Everyone can cultivate energy, honesty and earnestness. We can strive to overcome listlessness, laziness, cultivate a spirit of honor and honesty. Learn to shun evil in thought as well as deed. I remember having in school several years ago two sisters about 14 & 15 years of age. When they first came to school, the younger seemed a very pretty girl, the other was somewhat homely. Before the term ended, the older girl was prettier than the other. What made the difference? Personality.

 There is in this community a young matron whom I think to be beautiful. I have known her since childhood. She was a homely little girl but very attractive. Why? “Attractive personality”. She has developed that personality to a degree that she is a very lovely young mother.

 We can without a doubt, if we so desire, develop a personality that is of great value to us in life. But to be a successful leader we must have a strong, virile, positive personality.

 To sum up then to be a successful leader, we must have:

  1. Knowledge of our undertakings and those connected with it.
  2. Be interested in the subject and interested in people.
  3. Have a positive personality CHRISTLIKE
  4. Finally to be a leader in Christian work, we must be a Christian.

 We must be Christlike. If we do not know Christ as our personal savior, we can no more lad people to know him than the illiterate could write a poem such as the Iliad or such hymns as “My Faith Looks Up To Thee”, “Rock of Ages”, “Crossing the Bar” or “Lead Thou Me On”. So I should say among other requisites for Leadership are:

  • Christianity
  • Knowledge of the work
  • Interest in the work
  • Personality and
  • A Love of Christ and His Work

 There may be other qualities I have not mentioned as important as Knowledge and Interest–Certainly none as important as–BEING CHRISTLIKE


In an email dated March 6, 2006, Naomi Bumgarner says…
I remember Grandpa going to these meetings, where he gave this speech. These meetings were called Arbuckle District Sunday School Conventions. Church members of all dominations in that district would come together for the day, usually meeting on a Saturday. At noon they had dinner on the grounds, then in the afternoon the services included speeches and singing, lasting until 3:30 or 4:00.

We believe grandpa gave this sermon at the Concord Baptist Church, for he mentioned Brother Leonard, who is in all probability, Leonard Byus, and yes he was the song leader.

One time Grandpa was asked by Gen. John McCaulan’s (of Civil War fame) to teach his grand son how to write his own name, and offered him $25, but grandpa wouldn’t take the money. In later years that grandson became a school teacher in Mason County.  

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