Sermon Illustrations

Boomerang! (07.28.05--Appreciation--Ezra 5: 1-2)

“When someone does something good, applaud! You’ll make two people happy.” The life-long motto of film magnate, Samuel Goldwyn, he knew that appreciation was a two-way street. The one who received it benefited as well as the one who gave it. Both were fulfilled.

I have often wondered why people are so reluctant to bring encouragement and praise to one another. Perhaps it is the belief that receiving is more important than giving. Yet, if that is the case, the one thing we ought to be doing is really spreading the praise around. When you have good things to say, what is the purpose of keeping them bottled up inside. Pour them out on others and watch what happens. Doubtless what you give will return to you in dividends. It’s just a matter of believing that good news, appreciation, is a boomerang. It can’t help coming back to where it came from.

In his autobiography, Breaking Barriers, syndicated columnist Carl Rowan tells about a teacher who greatly influenced his life. Rowan relates: Miss Thompson reached into her desk drawer and pulled out a piece of paper containing a quote attributed to Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. I listened intently as she read: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans, aim high in hope and work. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us.”

More than 30 years later, I gave a speech in which I said that Frances Thompson had given me a desperately needed belief in myself. A newspaper printed the story, and someone mailed the clipping to my beloved teacher. She wrote me: "You have no idea what that newspaper story meant to me. For years, I endured my brother’s arguments that I had wasted my life. That I should have married and had a family. When I read that you gave me credit for helping to launch a marvelous career, I put the clipping in front of my brother. After he’d read it, I said, ‘You see, I didn’t really waste my life, did I?’” (Carl Rowan, Breaking Barriers, Little, Brown, Quoted in Reader’s Digest, January 1992.)

Encouragement and praise is like a boomerang; the more you give it, the more it wants to return. It’s...

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