Sermon illustrations


Backseat Editors

Fred Allen (1984-1956) was a famous American comedian, writer, and radio star. When one of his scripts for a radio show was given back to him with significant changes in bright blue ink, Allen began flipping through the pages impatiently. “Where were you fellows when the paper was blank?” he asked.

Stuart Strachan Jr., Source material from Clifton Fadiman, Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes.

Dealing with Criticism

Why do any of us get upset or tense when confronted? Why do any of us activate our inner lawyer and rise to our own defense? Why do any of us turn the tables and remind the other person that we are not the only sinner in the room? Why do we argue about the facts or dispute the other person’s interpretation.

We do all of these things because we are convinced in our hearts that we are more righteous that how than we are being portrayed in the moment of confrontation. Proud people don’t welcome loving warning, rebuke, confrontation, question, criticism, or accountability, because they don’t feel the need for it. And when they do fail, they are very good at erecting plausible reasons for what they said or did, given the stress of the situation or relationship in which it was done.

Self-Glory by Paul David Tripp taken from Dangerous Calling by Paul David Tripp, copyright 2012, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 178.

Describe Your Inner-Critic

NPR’s Nancy Updike got an earful when she asked people about what their inner critic sounded like or communicated to them. Here are some of the answers:

As part of a segment on the NPR program This American Life, journalist Nancy Updike got more than she bargained for when polled people on the personality of their inner-critic: 

  • ​MAN: The voice is irresistible, always. I’m in the thrall of that voice.
  • ​WOMAN: Totally out of control. It’s got this life of its own, and I can’t tame it anymore.
  • ​MAN: I remember somehow realizing just how finely calibrated the voice was to every nuance, every part of my feelings, including the feeling that I didn’t want to smoke cigarettes. And it’s just like, Might as well have another cigarette, because this is it.
  • ​MAN: The voice definitely brings in also an element of shame. It says, you want everyone to think that you have money. You want everyone to see that you’re generous and you can give and put yourself out there financially. It will prove that you’re not a poor kid.
  • ​WOMAN: And it also says a lot of mean things too. Your husband’s too good for you, you may as well have a glass of wine because without it you won’t be as entertaining.
  • ​WOMAN: You better try your hardest to make sure he doesn’t take [the ring] away, because he’s going to find out the truth about you and how much you suck. So you better distract him with a really thin body.

Taken from Nancy Updike, This American Life, Episode 340: “The Devil in Me”, September 7, 2007.

Driven by Demons

Brett Favre was a driven man. He explained to USA Today that his father’s message that he was never good enough drove him to become one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history…His dad had also been his high school coach. He demanded excellence from Brett, and he didn’t accept any excuses. When Irv Farve died at age fifty-eight from a heart attack, Brett “lost his biggest fan-and most vocal second-guesser.” His father was tough on his son. Brett remembers, “if you grew up in a household with a football coach who looks like a drill sergeant, you would think you would be tough. Anytime I was hurt…his advice was, “Get your a** up.’ Never did he say he loved us…

Favre had two ways of coping with the pain of his childhood: he was driven to be the best, and he used alcohol and prescription drugs to numb the pain. One was considered by most fans to be a laudable character trait, but they didn’t understand the source of his unquenchable ambition. And most people excused the abuse of prescription drugs as simply a result of the aches and pains of an NFL player…

Throughout his career, Favre continued to hear the voice in the back of his mind, the critical voice of his father that drove him to be the best. In the year he came out of retirement to play again, he explained, “Part of my success always has been that I felt I had something to prove, even after I won three MVP’s. That has not changed today. If I am going to play, I’m going to be the best and have this chip [on my shoulder].

Samuel Chand, Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth, Thomas Nelson.

Still Looking for inspiration?

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

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