Today’s Illustration: Built On More Than Plastic

Who:  Ole Kirk Christiansen

  • born in 1891 in Filskov, South Jutland, Denmark
  • 12 siblings / the 10th child — “We grew up – all of us – in a modest home but a good home, trusting in the mercy of God.” [1]
  • Carpenter by trade
  • “Ole purchased the Billund Woodworking and Carpentry Shop in 1916.”
  • Married  – 1916 / they had 4 sons
  • His wife died in 1932
  • Remarried in 1934
  • He died March 1958 — age 66

Where: Billund, Denmark

When: Founded in 1932 — An unnamed business, that  was later called “The Lego Group”

What: Legos

  • Founded / Created in 1932
  • “In 1942, the company experienced another setback. A short circuit created an electrical fire, which resulted in the loss of his factory and his entire stock and blueprints. The impact of experiencing so many setbacks almost influenced Kristiansen to give up his business. However, he decided to start again, due to a sense of responsibility towards his workforce. In 1944, his new factory now incorporated an assembly line.” — Wikipedia [3]
  • “In 1947, the company made a huge purchase that was to transform the company and make it world-famous and a household name. In that year, Lego bought a plastic injection-molding machine, which could mass produce plastic toys.”
  • “In 1953, the automatic binding bricks were renamed Lego bricks.”
  • “In 1957, the interlocking principle of Lego bricks was born”
  • “In 1958, the stud-and-coupling system was patented, which added significant stability to built pieces.”
  • “They came to the United States in 1973.”
  • “In 1964, for the first time, consumers could buy Lego sets, which included all the parts and instructions to build a particular model.”
  • “In 1969, the Duplo series—bigger blocks for smaller hands—was introduced for the 5-and-under set. “
  • “Figures with movable arms and legs were introduced in 1978.” [3]
  • Seven LEGOLAND theme park locations (Billund, Denmark; Windsor, England; Günzburg, Germany;  Nusajaya, Malaysia; Florida, California
  • Approximately 40 Lego master builders in the world, 7 of whom are Americans.
  • Over 75 billion pieces were produced by 2014
  • Over $2,000 on eBay for the Lego — “Ultimate Collector’s” Millennium Falcon
  • “Too many Lego bricks is a problem many parents will sympathise with, but now the toy firm itself has admitted it has made too many. — The company said sales and profits had fallen for the first time in 13 years, blaming the weak performance on having to sell off excess stock cheaply.” — 2018 —

. . 

Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • trials
  • God’s mercy
  • family
  • God’s providence
  • tragedy
  • God’s goodness
  • vision
  • perseverance
  • creation
  • building
  • loss
  • “yet as by fire”

. . . . . 

Sermonic Example:

Note: There are several distinct methods for using illustrative material. Here we are building to a quotation from Ole Kirk Christiansen.

Many of us are very familiar with “Lego” blocks.  We and our children have probably spent hours building and imagining using these blocks.  What we may not know is the back story of Lego.

[Include whatever details you find useful and interesting]

The inventor and founder of Lego was Ole Kirk Christiansen, born in Denmark.  He worked in life as a carpenter, both got married and bought a shop in 1916.  

What many may not know was that he was the 10th of 12 siblings. He was raised in a small and crowded house because of the size of the family.  

As a young man, he married and began his own family.  He and his wife had four sons.

  • He lived through the depression of the 1930s
  •  He survived a house and shop fire — his son accidentally set a pile of wood chips on fire that destroyed their home and his shop.  
  • He experienced the loss of his factory and his entire stock in 1942 due to an electrical fire.
  • His wife died after 16 years of marriage — leaving him to raise his four boys.
  • At a point in time, he slid into bankruptcy and his siblings offered him a bailout loan — with the condition that he had to stop making toys.
  • Ole refused that condition, pushed ahead, and continued making toys —  “His love of toys pushed the company ahead, even when it limped. He even renamed the company to reflect its new direction: “leg godt,” or “play well,”  which became the name of his most popular toy — LEGO.
  • He died at the age of 66 — around the time many of us were growing up — March of 1958.

During an interview, Ole Kirk Christiansen made this statement —  A statement that reflects how impacting those childhood years are and how important what we teach our children in those earliest years is . . . . Ole put this important statement about his home life on the public record at that interview . . . .

“We grew up – all of us – in a modest home but a good home, trusting in the mercy of God.”

A modest home

A good home

AND a home that taught him to trust in the mercy of God!

. . . . which is what he would need to know and believe throughout his life.

Other Information & Links:


2. Rosenberg, Jennifer. “The History of Lego.” ThoughtCo, Jan. 26, 2021,


“At first, Christiansen’s shop produced furniture like ladders, stools and ironing boards. But in 1924, just as he was looking to expand his successful business, his sons accidentally set a pile of wood chips in the shop on fire. The flames it produced destroyed the entire building—and the family’s home.

Inside the original Lego workshop when it was producing wooden toys. (Credit: Lego/Handout/Corbis via Getty Images)

Others might have given up with a total loss, but Christiansen saw the fire as an excuse to simply build a larger workshop. Tragedy continued to strike, however. In 1929, the American stock market crash plunged the world into depression, and Christiansen’s wife died in 1932. Bowed by personal and financial disaster, Christiansen laid off much of his staff and struggled to make ends meet.

The decision didn’t pay off—at first. Christiansen actually slid into bankruptcy, but refused to stop making toys when his siblings tried to make it a condition of a bailout loan. But his love of toys pushed the company ahead, even when it limped. He even renamed the company to reflect its new direction: leg godt, or “play well,” became LEGO.


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