Sermon Illustrations

There is a Minister who received an urgent note that said that a man in his congregation wanted to get a hold of him. The man’s problems have been 10 years in the making but have become urgent when the consequences of neglect suddenly materialized.

The minister met the man at his office. He was a builder by trade and kept in touch with most of his customers by telephone. That explained why he was on the phone when he entered the room. He continues to talk for 10 minutes while the minister waited.

After the man got off the phone he didn’t even begin with any small talk but rather tears welled up in his eyes and anger rose in his voice as he described his son, his 2 daughters, and his wife. His children were teenagers and he felt that he should be getting combat pay. His wife, he complained, was plotting with the kids for his first visit to a cardiac care unit. His kids were driving him crazy.

One of his daughters had teamed up with a wayward young man and had committed a felony. A legal firm was handling their problems with the state, but he hoped that the minister would be able to help his daughter solve the moral nightmare that had created the mess.

He was trying to subcontract his family problems to the minister.

The minister wanted to help his friend but it required a whole lot more attention than he would normally give. He was hurting and the minister wanted to help. After asking him what he had done so far and what his plans were the man said that he had done nothing and didn’t know what to do. The answers to those questions could’ve encompassed his whole career as a father. Maybe it wasn’t so surprising but his own father’s track record was very similar.

He was desperate to show the man that nothing that he might do would have any lasting effect until he established a plan that considered the unique needs of his children’s lives from start to finish. He needed an object lesson-something that works when words fall flat.

That’s when the Lord opened his eyes to an illustration that was laying right in front of him on the man’s desk. A set of blueprints. He spread out the blueprints flipped through a few pages and then asked, “what comes first, the building or the blueprints?”

The answer barely required an answer and of course, he gave the obvious response, “the blueprints.”

He looked at the man and said, “you wouldn’t think of dumping a lot of building materials at a certain construction site and then giving the subcontractors the freedom to put them where they think they looked and worked best, would you?” He pointed to other points in the blueprints and as he pointed to the foundation, the roof, the walls, the windows and doors, and the electricity, plumbing, heating and insulation. The minister pointed out that the blueprints predetermine how the building will be put together.

He asked the man, “Have you ever developed a set of blueprints for your children’s character?”

"What’s the foundation on which you’re structuring their lives? Have you picked out the best windows and doors for them to access the outside world, capture the view, and benefit from the light of the world? Have you factored in the proper insulation to protect them from life’s dangerous elements, and attach them to the right kind of power to light them for a lifetime?"

The Man talked about the church and the Christian school but the minister reminded him that they were only subcontractors. They merely help him put together what God has ordained him to build.

The man would never erect a building without a predetermined set of plans. It was obvious that he and his wife had not determined much of anything for their children. If he had applied the same principles that he uses for building a structure to building people, he would have found himself in a much better situation. Now he was forced to do some demolition and restructuring which would demand heavy commitments of time, energy, and resources.

It wasn’t too late. But it was going to be emotionally expensive.

Dr. Tim Kimmel, "Raising kids who turn out right."

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