Challenge Sermon Illustrations

Challenge Sermon Illustrations

When a man is determined what can stop him? Cripple him and you have a Sir Walter Scott; put him in a prison cell and you have John Bunyan; bury him in the snows of Valley Forge and you have a George Washington. Have him born in abject poverty and you have a Lincoln; load him with bitter racial prejudice and you have a Disraeli; afflict him with asthma until as a boy he lies choking in his father's arms and you have a Theodore Roosevelt; stab him with rheumatic pains until for years he cannot sleep without an opiate and you have a Steinmetz; put him in a grease pit of a locomotive roundhouse and you have a Walter Chrysler; make him a second fiddle in an obscure South American orchestra and you have a Toscanini.—Paul Speiker


Challenge is powerful as an attention-arousing technique, but it must be fair. Any power to influence is undergirded by a skill in inducing participation by the other person.


You have all seen athletes at times "play over their heads." Why? Because of the challenge and its acceptance.

It is men who have counted struggle as a blessing who get the big rewards of life. As Emerson said, "God keeps an honest account with men."

The hard surgical cases, where life hangs on a heartbeat, do not go to the dilettante surgeon. The tough engineering problem, like building a bridge across a mighty river, does not go to the engineer who has always looked for the easy jobs. And the same for lawyers, and top executives in business.

You will remember the poem of the frontier:

I dream no dream of a nursemaid state
That spoons me out my food.
No, the stout heart sings in its strife with fate,
For the toil and the sweat are good.—Samuel B. Pettingill, The Freeman 192.


Clarence, lithe Clarence, had to have iodine put on an abrasion for the first time. "Do you know how I can tell how old you are when I put iodine on this bruise?"

"How?"

"It will tickle you a little. Might even hurt some. If you scream and kick, I shall know you are a baby only two years old. If you cry and fuss, you are just four years old. But if you merely say, "Ouch!" and laugh and dance the iodine dance that goes something like this (making appropriate gestures, ridiculous enough so that he laughed) you might be as old as SIX!"

Clarence was four.

"I'll bet you're only two."

Tense moments. Then—Ouch! Ouch! OUCH! and hilarious laughter and dancing through tears.

"So big? So soon? How did you do it?"

"O—I just grewed up."

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