Sermon Illustrations

“Outhouse and Penthouse!” Isaiah 42: 1-4 Key verse(s): 1a: “‘Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight . . .’”

Have you ever wanted to lead something? Have you ever wanted to be the one that everyone else follows? Leadership isn’t something that everyone ought to aspire to; and, for that matter, it isn’t something that everyone cares about. As a wise man once said, “If we were all leaders, than we all would be followers.” Nevertheless, there may come a time in your life as well as mine when we are called to lead someone or something. In that event, what should we be prepared for? Is leadership all that it is cracked up to be? Do the perks outweigh the negatives? Charles Swindoll, in his book Hand Me Another Brick, puts it into perspective this way:

“When George Allen moved to Washington, D.C., as head coach of the Redskins, he promised the nation’s capital the moon. He told them it would be just a few seasons before he would develop the Redskins into a championship football team. He promised them the Super Bowl by the second season. The team had a brilliant preseason that first year. Then, early in the regular season, they won several amazing victories. It appeared the Redskins were to be lifted from their common role of loser to the uncommon role of winner. As time passed, however, the inevitable occurred. They began to lose and lose and lose. The blame fell, at least in part, not on Coach George Allen, but on a quarterback named Sonny Jurgenson, in my opinion one of the most gifted and effective quarterbacks to ever play the game. Jurgenson possesses a quality I deeply admire: personal security. It seems as though no one can intimidate Sonny Jurgenson.

One day after another defeat, Sonny was getting ready to take a shower and go home. A sportswriter leaned over to him in the locker room and said, ‘Say, Sonny, be honest now. Don’t all these off-the-wall remarks we write and all this public flack disturb you? Doesn’t it make you want to quit when people throw things at you from the stands and when you get those dirty letters?’ Sonny just leaned back, gave a big, toothless grin, and sighed, ‘No, not really, I don’t want to quit. I’ve been in this game long enough to know that every quarterback, every week of the season, spends his time either in the penthouse or in the outhouse.’

Sonny’s comment points out an important fact. It is true that if you are a leader, you spend your time either on the top or on the bottom. You seldom know what it’s like to be in between. You are either the hero or the villain. You are respected or you are virtually hated. People in leadership must live on the yo-yo of public opinion, under the gun of verbal jabs as well as on the crest of great admiration. Being ‘in the outhouse’ is a lot more difficult than those choice times ‘in the penthouse.’ It’s when we are under verbal attack of the intimidating public that we show our colors.

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