Sermon illustrations


Christopher Parkening’s Search For Happiness and Purpose

Considered perhaps the greatest guitarist alive, Christopher Parkening appeared to have it all. Signed to an international recording deal as a teenager, Parkening traveled across the world playing beautiful music. But by the age of 30, having achieved all the musical success he could ever imagine, Parkening felt empty. He was tired of touring and wanted to take a break from the rigors associated  . Parkening ultimately decided to move to Montana and took up fly-fishing as a hobby.

Soon Parkening was not only one of the greatest guitarists in the world, but also a world-class fly fisherman, with all the money and time he could ever want. And yet, despite all his success, his life was empty.

He wrote: “If you arrive at a point in your life where you have everything that you’ve ever wanted and thought would make you happy and it still doesn’t, then you start questioning things. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.”

At this point, Parkening began to wonder if anything could fulfill the deep longings of his heart. Around this time, while visiting friends, Parkening attended church. During the service, Parkening was struck by 1 Corinthians 10:31: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

He explains, “I realized there were only two things I knew how to do: fly fish for trout and play the guitar. Well, I am playing the guitar today absolutely by the grace of God. . . . I have a joy, a peace, and a deep-down fulfillment in my life I never had before. My life has purpose. . . . I’ve learned first-hand the true secret of genuine happiness.” Now Parkening teaches classical guitar to students at Pepperdine University, but instead of doing it for himself, he now has the opportunity to do it all for the glory of God.

Stuart Strachan Jr, Source Material from Janet Bartholomew, Does God Care? (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corporation, 2000), 153–54.

Loss vs. Offering

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

A Means to an End

Ancient Israel was a means to an end. That’s not a slight. Being a means to an end is what gives things meaning. Purpose. If you refuse to become a means to an end, your life will never have meaning. That’s the meaning of meaning. Live for yourself and you’ll only have yourself to show for yourself. Become a means to an end and your life takes on . . . meaning. Funerals teach us this. Funerals remind us that the value of a life is always measured by how much of it was given away.

Taken From Andy Stanley Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed for the World, Zondervan.

A Perfect Retirement?

In his book Thrive in Retirement, Eric Thurman shares the story of close friends preparing for retirement:

My husband was a lawyer who joked that after “the big case” came across his desk, he would retire to a warm climate, play unending golf, and dine out to his heart’s desire. We had friends who were buying second homes in a lazy Florida coastal town. We dreamed of doing the same and, one day, moving there full time to spend our old age.

Then it happened; a wrongful death suit for the son of a former client resulted in the largest settlement in the history of the county. With our part of the fees, we purchased a gorgeous home on the outskirts of that coastal town, close to his buddies for a guaranteed foursome whenever the course summoned his inner golf pro.

This home had bedrooms for our daughters and their future spouses plus a loft where we dreamed of eventually welcoming grandchildren who we would lure to visit Grandpa and Grandma with our backyard pool and the Atlantic beach a block away. That fall we began picking out furniture to ship to our new home. Shortly after Christmas we took off in a fully loaded Jeep, heading south to soak up the sun’s rays in anticipated coastal bliss.

Those first January days were filled with decorating and settling into the house, golf dates every other day and dining out at the city’s many popular restaurants. Friends and family lined up to visit. This was the life we had dreamed of for years. Or was it? At the end of that first month, we were surprised how we felt. My husband said, “I can’t live the rest of my life in constant weekend mode.

Eric Thurman, Thrive in Retirement: Simple Secrets for Being Happy for the Rest of Your Life, The Crown Publishing Co, 2019, pp.2-3.

What Business They Were In

In the late 1800’s, no business matched the financial and political dominance of the railroad. Trains dominated the transportation industry of the United States, moving both people and goods throughout the country. Then a new discovery came along – the car – and incredibly the leaders of the railroad industry did not take advantage of their unique position to participate in this transportation development.

In his book The Search for Excellence, Tom Peters points out the reason: “The railroad barons didn’t understand what business they were in.

Peters observes that “they thought they were in the train business. But, they were in fact in the transportation business. Time passed them by, as did opportunity. They couldn’t see what their real purpose was.”

Submitted by Chris Stroup, Source Material from Tom Peters, The Search For Excellence.

Work vs. Calling

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 Illustrations on Calling, MeaningMotivationVision

Still Looking for inspiration?

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

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