Sermon illustrations


Attitude Is Everything

Harry Emerson Fosdick once told how as a child, his mother sent him to pick a quart of raspberries. Reluctantly he dragged himself to the berry patch. His afternoon was ruined for sure. Then a thought hit him. He would surprise his mother and pick two quarts of raspberries instead of one. Rather than drudgery his work now became a challenge. He enjoyed picking those raspberries so much that fifty years later that incident was still fresh in his mind. The job hadn’t changed. His attitude had, though, and attitude is everything.

Dynamic Preaching, June, 1990.

Getting the Right Attitude

While taking a flight in a small plane in Washington state, marriage counselors Les and Leslie Parrot were given some interesting information from their pilot:

We crossed over the islands of Puget Sound and approached the lights of a local airport.  “The most important thing about landing is the attitude of the plane,” said the pilot.

“You mean altitude, don’t you?” I asked.

“No,” the pilot explained.  “The attitude has to do with the nose of the plane.  If the attitude is too high, the plane will come down with a severe bounce.  And if the attitude is too low, the plane may go out of control because of excessive landing speed.”

Then the pilot said something that got our attention: “The trick is to get the right attitude in spite of atmospheric conditions.”

Without knowing it, our pilot had given us a perfect metaphor for creating a happy marriage—the trick is to develop the right attitude in spite of the circumstances we find ourselves in.

Taken from Les & Leslie Parrott, Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before—and After—You Marry, expanded and updated ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006).

“My Cross to Bear”: Joni Eareckson Tada on Paralysis

Please know that when I take up my cross every day I am not talking about my wheelchair. My wheelchair is not my cross to bear. Neither is your cane or walker your cross. Neither is your dead-end job or your irksome in-laws. Your cross to bear is not your migraine headaches, not your sinus infection, not your stiff joints. That is not your cross to bear.

My cross is not my wheelchair; it is my attitude. Your cross is your attitude about your dead-end job and your in-laws. It is your attitude about your aches and pains. Any complaints, any grumblings, any disputings or murmurings, any anxieties, any worries, any resentments or anything that hints of a raging torrent of bitterness—these are the things God calls me to die to daily.

For when I do, I not only become like him in his death (that is, taking up my cross and dying to the sin that he died for on his cross), but the power of the resurrection puts to death any doubts, fears, grumblings, and disputings. And I get to become like him in his life. I get to experience the intimate fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, the sweetness and the preciousness of the Savior. I become holy as he is holy. O God, “you will make me full of gladness with your presence” (Acts 2:28).

Taken from Suffering & The Sovereignty of God by John Piper & Justin Taylor © 2006, pp.195-196. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.


“No…You’re Boring”

In her excellent book Liturgy of the Ordinary, pastor and author Tish Harrison Warren describes an encoutner her husband experienced while working on his PhD.

While my husband, Jonathan, was getting his PhD, he got to know a former Jesuit priest turned married professor—a holy man, a provocateur, and a favorite among his students. Once a student met with him to complain about having to read Augustine’s Confessions. “It’s boring,” the student whined. “No, it’s not boring,” the professor responded. “You’re boring.”

What Jonathan’s professor meant is that when we gaze at the richness of the gospel and the church and find them dull and uninteresting, it’s actually we who have been hollowed out. We have lost our capacity to see wonders where true wonders lie. We must be formed as people who are capable of appreciating goodness, truth, and beauty.

The kind of spiritual life and disciplines needed to sustain the Christian life are quiet, repetitive, and ordinary. I often want to skip the boring, daily stuff to get to the thrill of an edgy faith. But it’s in the dailiness of the Christian faith—the making the bed, the doing the dishes, the praying for our enemies, the reading the Bible, the quiet, the small—that God’s transformation takes root and grows.

Taken Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. Copyright (c) 2016 by Tish Harrison Warren, pp.35-36. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com


A Soldier’s Sacrifice

A chaplain was speaking to a soldier on a cot in a hospital. “You have lost an arm in the great cause,” he said. “No,” said the soldier with a smile. “I didn’t lose it–I gave it.” In that same way, Jesus did not lose His life. He gave it purposefully.

Source Unknown.

Two Different Ways of Looking at the Same Job

The noted English architect Sir Christopher Wren was supervising the construction of a magnificent cathedral in London. A journalist thought it would be interesting to interview some of the workers, so he chose three and asked them this question, “What are you doing?” The first replied, “I’m cutting stone for 10 shillings a day.” The next answered, “I’m putting in 10 hours a day on this job.” But the third said, “I’m helping Sir Christopher Wren construct one of London’s greatest cathedrals.”

Source Unknown

See also Beliefs, Character, Personality, Perspective

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Attitude. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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