Add Steps Three & Four
I was listening to a message by Pastor Lance Walker, the Lead Pastor of Faith Baptist Church, who replaced me after working together for just about twenty-years in New Jersey. If you want to hear a challenging message on prayer, it would be worth your time.
Run With That: Over those twenty years, there was many a time we talked about preaching, or a particular part of a message which we had or others had preached. I would say, “Now run with that” or “They should have run with that and developed that idea, point, concept, imagery!” That is, to develop and drive that idea at that point, rather than moving on in the message. Drive the idea or concept now!
Let’s start with a transcript of the introductory portion of his message (An audio link to the transcription is included).
Message: Devoted To Prayer – Link
Colossians 4:2-6 — My sermon topic today is “Devoted to Prayer” . . . . If you look it up in the dictionary the definition of devoted – it means zealous or ardent attachment, loyalty affection, faithful, constant, devout — Those are some of the words that are synonymous with the word devoted.
To be devoted to something is defined by – to give up or appropriate to or concentrate on a particular pursuit – an occupation – a purpose or a cause . . . .
But let me ask you, What are you devoted to and what does it look like to be devoted to that thing?
Well we know that people are devoted to their favorite sports team — You turn the television you’ll see some of these crazy people – sorry – who are out there in 10 degree weather and they-they guys don’t have a shirt on – they have the team all across the- six or eight guys – the team name across them – written on their chest and its like 10 degrees – they have no shirt – nothing on out there .
The guys with the crazy suit on – the crazy hairdo – some of the crazy outfits they wear – I mean people are devoted to their team . . . . But people are devoted to their sports team.
Some people are devoted to their job – I mean they go in early – they stay late – they work through lunch – they don’t take all of their vacation – and their devoted – they take initiative – they really work hard at their job – they’re devoted . . .
People are devoted to their friends – they call them – they text them – they email them – they spend time together with them – they spend money on them — I mean friends are absolutely crucial today . . . .
People are devoted to their family. They remember anniversaries and birthdays, and they make sacrifices and they love – they’re loyal, and they’re faithful to the vows made to their spouse. You know why? Because they are devoted.
But you know what, devotion comes in all shapes and sizes, unfortunately at times. People are devoted to TV series – I mean they have to Tivo it or whatever it is – they can’t miss it. Some people miss church in order to see one of these things.
People are devoted to their hobby – It’s certainly not wrong to watch a TV show or have a hobby – but they’re devoted to . . . .
Some people are seriously devoted to their brand of phone – You’re iPhone or you are Samsung – or something – and they get upset when you think the other one is better than the other one. . . .
The question is, are we devoted to prayer? Do these words describe your prayer life – zealous, faithful, loyal, consistent? Is prayer a – let me use the definition — a particular pursuit of yours – If not, why not.
Can I tell you this, the early church was devoted to prayer . . .
Here is the pattern or structure which was employed.
- Dictionary Definition of the word
- Dictionary Definition of a cognate word
- Examples of Devotion In Life
- Devotion to a sports team
- Devotion to a job
- Devotion to friends
- Devotion to family
- Devotion to a TV series
- Devotion to a hobby
- Devotion to a brand of phone
4. Question of Comparison: How does that compare to your devotion to ____?
There is nothing unusual or “wrong” with what has been said, the structure, or the pattern. It is all very typical and common with slight variations. I imagine you, and I know I have done the same — just an identifying of various examples which preface “whatever” — our general subject.
But now — “run with that.”* Take what you have done and are doing and . . . .
develop it further
drive the idea by moving it further
set up some key thoughts that can be used down the line
drive the areas of devotion which you are calling up
grab the examples and descriptions and move to a broader level
There are steps which help us do this, of which only “one” and “two” were taken by Walker. It is moving to steps “three” and “four” which push and develop the ideas further, which help us “run with it” further.
Two Steps or “Run It” With All Four:
First Step: The first step begins with the selection of a keyword. In this case, it is the word – “devoted” or “devotion.” The keyword can be (though not for this message) . . . .
. . . . depending on what the passage or the “theme” of the message is. In this case, the keyword is “devotion” – about being “devoted” ( The Aim: devoted to prayer).
Second Step: Then the speaker thinks of the various areas of life in which people exhibit that “keyword” — in this case “devotion.” We could think of yet other areas of where devotion is seen or exhibited beyond the ones found in Walker’s message. Some of those other areas may be better, or just as good, or weaker (i.e. — the devotion of an Olympian – or the devotion of some in climbing the “Corporate Ladder,” – or the devotion of those who want to become a famous and known rock band – etc.). There would be other examples of devotion, which may be better or worse examples as to their usefulness.**
The speakers choice of the various possible examples or areas which that speaker chooses to call-up is due to either. . .
“Random Selection”: That is, I have just grabbed some of the choices which have come to mind. I say “random” only because there is no particular purpose in their selection and/or there was no real thought as to why that one would be better than another (I suspect that is what happened when it came to “hobby” because there is little development of that area in Walker’s message – as you can see and hear).
“Purposeful”: They are selected for their anticipated usefulness and purpose. That is, I am already thinking about this-or-that one and its potential usefulness. I have chosen possible areas or examples because they lend themselves to the third and fourth step. I am not going to stop at steps one and two, but I have a purpose in selecting ones which can or will “key-off” concepts which I can use to drive my point. You will better grasp what I am saying as we proceed.
It is after steps one and two that most speakers stop. They 1) call up examples of “whatever” – that keyword/thought, and 2) describe what that looks like in the example(s) mentioned. However, there are still two more steps one can take and thereby “run with it.”
Third step: The third step involves moving to a different level of thinking. It involves seeing the nature of the broader categories which are described in the selected areas and descriptions. This step was not taken in our example. It would look something like this were we to work it out on paper . . . .
As is seen and done by Walker, there is a description of what devotion looks like in the selected area, in this case, “sports.”
The devotion to a sports teams is seen in . . . .
A – enduring the cold (because we don’t care about being cold for our team)
B – the team name on their chests – (to identify this as our team)
C – wearing crazy clothes – (to say that we are the most passionate fans)
But now we are going to move to a broader categorization of those descriptions.
Now the broader categories of what has stated above . . . .
Devoted means that one is willing to . . .
A – face or ignore the uncomfortable
B – clearly identify with what matters
C – look and be different than others
[OR – If we then move on to the example of being devoted to a job.]
Again, as is seen and done by Walker, there is a description of what devotion looks like in the selected area of “devotion to a job.”
The devotion to a job is seen in . . . .
A – going in early
B – staying late
C – working through lunch
D – not taking a vacation
Now the broader categories of those . . . .
Devoted means that one is willing to . . .
A – take time / make time / use time to accomplish what is important
B – disregard time and do what it takes to accomplish the goal
C – ignore our needs
D – make more important than our relaxation
Likewise, one can do the same with “friends,” “family,” “TV,” “hobby,” and “phone” – Here is a list of the broader categories which comes from these other mixed areas and which were mention and described. . .
Devoted means that one is willing to . . .
spend our resources on it
give time to it
keep up with it
not forget its importance
sacrifice for it
exhibit our commitment
make plans that we don’t miss it
feel emotional about it
In this “third step,” you are moving to a higher level of thought. You are moving to a broader descriptive level of what devotion is in this-or-that selected area and its description.
To descriptively portray devotion by stating that “sports fans will go shirtless and bear the cold” is at the actual descriptive level. That is exactly what it looks like.
Now to move up a level of thought – “willing to be uncomfortable and even face the unpleasant and/or irritating.” It is this way of characterizing the behavior which now becomes more useful when I want to drive a point. I will exemplify that again after I lay out the “fourth step.”
Fourth step: Likewise this step is not found in our example. It is the final step in that you now plug in the broader characterization as you drive the point you are making . . . .
√ “at the moment”
√ during the main body of the message (repeating or restating those broader characterizations as you move to the various points of the message)
√ in your conclusion (You can repeat or restate those broader concepts again!)
You are now going to plug in these broader characterizations into your content as you talk about what it means to be devoted to prayer.
Let’s Try It . . . .
Okay, here goes – off the cuff – using some of the characterizations or wording we built in “step three.” Let’s see if we can add some content to the message which drives the point about being devoted in our prayer life.
I am using and relying on Walker’s content as it relates to his actual behavioral descriptions of devotion, beginning with his description of “devotion to sports.” I am just taking what he did, and I am now “running with it,” using the broader characterizations or terms of what devotion means, incorporating or adding steps three and four. I am only going to exemplify the rhetorical technique using the broader words/characterizations relating to “sports devotion.”
When it comes to those in the world, they are willing to ignore personal comfort.
They will publicly let it be known that this is their team.
They want to identify with their team and with their teammates.
They don’t mind looking strange, or different because they want to let it be known that they are the real deal, the most passionate of fans.
They want to be identified as the serious fans, different from many other fans who are attending that day.
And when it comes to being devoted to prayer, it may also mean ignoring one’s personal comfort. Devoted to prayer may well mean – at times – continuing in prayer while experiencing some very uncomfortable and irritating situations which can distract. If we are devoted to prayer we can ignore or dismiss the uncomfortable – the “weather” which is surrounding our life at various times. It may be difficult to pray under these conditions, in that environment, but you pray because you are devoted to prayer – Like Paul and Silas in jail – in season and out of season. When its cold, mild, or hot.
Sometimes, being devoted to prayer has a more public aspect. You are at lunch, with some friends at dinner, in your office or cubicle, sitting in your car – Whether people are with you, or they can see you – like Daniel before his window – you are devoted enough that being seen publicly – being known as one of His – doesn’t stop you from praying. You don’t mind identifying yourself.
You may be seen as bizarre or strange, but your devotion to prayer means that you don’t mind that appearance. You will stand out if you are devoted to thanking Him before a mean – in public — and to some seeing you – you may look different or even strange. Not all the Lord fans will look like you, but you’re different because you are a devoted follower.
*Instead of just going with “step one” and “two,” you can “run” with these examples of devotion by moving up a level and capturing the broader descriptions of the actual behaviors of the devoted . . . .
The actual behavior of the devoted Up a level
Bare-chested in the cold ignore personal comfort
Painted letters on their chests publicly identify with
Hair & dress Stand out from others
** If you were not thinking ahead, you might not be able to use your “randomly” selected areas/examples of devotion as effectively as some other “purposefully” chosen examples/areas of devotion. I went with the ones used by the speaker. I might have wanted to use other areas/examples which had other elements which I could have highlighted when going up to a broader level.
For example, had I decided to use the Olympians as an area/example of devotion — “Olympians are up at dawn, and day after day work at it, all to be ready for that day when they will be called upon to muster all they have to win the gold.”
Now I can move up a level to those broader characterizations:
• able to dismiss and ignore the weariness of the mind and body
• to be constant and consistent
Now as I said, your selected areas of devotion can be “random” or “purposeful.” I made that point because it is “the purposeful examples” which lend themselves to where I want to go and/or how I am anticipating to make the points I want to make.