Sermon illustrations


A 12 Million Dollar Education

 Tom Watson, Sr., is the man who founded IBM. You can imagine the money, the investments, the experiments, this man, and his multi-billion dollar company have made through the years. Once, years ago, when a million dollars was still a million dollars, Watson had a top junior executive who spent $12 million of the company’s money on a venture that failed. The executive put his resignation on Watson’s desk saying, “I’m sure that you want my resignation.” Watson roared back:, “No I don’t want your resignation. I’ve just spent $12 million educating you. It’s about time you get to work.

Andy Cook

The Impact Noise Can have on Learning

Have you ever wondered the impact noise can have on our cognitive ability? Psychologist Arlene Bronzaft was curious to find out. Studying Public School 98 on the northern tip of Manhattan, Bronzaft found that children who were assigned to classrooms on the side of the school facing above-ground train tracks were on average, 11 months behind their counterparts on the quieter side of the school building.

After these findings were presented, the New York City Transit authority installed noise-abatement equipment on the tracks, and follow-up studies found no significant difference between the two groups.

Source: Ari L. Goldman, Article: Student Scores Rise After Nearby Subway Is Quieted, New York Times, 1982.

A Neglected Garden & The Right to Choose your Religion

The British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was once engaged in a conversation with a man who believed children should never receive any kind of religious education or instruction, not until they were old enough to decide for themselves what they wanted to believe. This would allow them the freedom to choose whatever religion they wanted to believe in, rather than have one foisted upon them by their families. Instead of disagreeing out loud, Coleridge invited the man to his home to visit his garden. When the man entered, he was shocked to find an overrun, neglected plot of land.

“Do you call this a garden?” the man shouted. “There are nothing but weeds here!” “Well, you see,” Coleridge said, “I did not wish to infringe upon the liberty of the garden in any way. I was just giving the garden a chance to express itself and to choose its own production.”

Stuart Strachan Jr.

“They Ain’t Learned You to Hit that Curveball…”

The American Baseball player Moe Berg  was more than just a great catcher. Berg had received graduate degrees from Princeton University and the Sorbonne in Paris, knew several languages and later served as a spy during WWII. He was known for reading 10 newspapers a day, and his etymological erudition (grasp of languages) led to a quiz show where he would describe various words’ origins.

But of course he was mainly known as a baseball player, making his debut for the Brooklyn Robins in 1923, and whose career spanned 16 years, playing for the Chicago White Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the Washington Senators, and finally the Boston Red Sox.

While playing a game, one of his less educated rivals said to him, “Moe, I don’t care how many of them college degrees you got. They ain’t learned you to hit that curveball any better than me.”

Stuart Strachan Jr. 

Two Offers of Education

In 1744, the College of William and Mary sent a letter to six Native American chiefs, offering a free education to twelve of their young braves. The chiefs politely declined the offer with the following reply:

Several of our young People were formerly brought up at the colleges of the Northern Provinces; they were instructed in all your sciences; but when they came back to us they were bad Runners, ignorant of every means of living in the Woods, unable to bear Cold or Hunger, knew neither how to build a cabin, take a Deer or kill an enemy, spoke our Language imperfectly, and were therefore neither fit for Hunters, Warriors, or Counselors; they were totally good for nothing.

The chiefs then made an offer of their own:

If the Gentlemen of Virginia will send us a Dozen of their Sons, we will take care of their Education; instruct them in all we know, and make Men of them.

Mark Batterson, Play the Man: Becoming the Man God Created You to Be, Baker Books, 2017.


See also Illustrations on Children, Growth, Knowledge, Learning, Training