1001 Quotes, Illustrations, and Humorous Stories

for Preachers, Teachers, and Writers

Edward K. Rowell, Editor


The right quote is a pinch of spice for the sermon. It enhances the other ingredients. Its taste, whether pungent or sweet, can linger long after the preacher has closed the Bible and gone home.

For many years, Leadership has been gathering spicy quotes, as contemporary as today's sports page, as lasting as the church fathers. Our aim is to season both your sermons and your soul. A thoughtful phrase will often break the curse of "sermon block," highlighting your own experience and wisdom in a fresh way.

Some anonymous wag said, "Sermons affect different people in different ways: Some rise to go greatly strengthened; some awake greatly rested." The judicious use of catchy quotes and famous phrases will, at the very least, make the nappers wonder what they missed.

We're confident that "the use of this book will increase your effectiveness as you communicate the greatest message of all time."

You can quote me on that.

Edward K. Rowell



There is something that is much more scarce, something rarer than ability. It is the ability to recognize ability.

Robert Half

(Discernment, Gifts)


When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we wish.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

(Women, Children)


The world has a philosophy that says, "What can't be cured must be endured." Christians have a philosophy that says, "What can't be cured can be enjoyed."

Joni Eareckson Tada

(Endurance, Suffering)

Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.

Francis de Sales

(Contentment, Lifestyle)

In the world to come, I shall not be asked, "Why were you not Moses?" I shall be asked, "Why were you not Zusya?"

Rabbi Zusya

(Contentment, Envy)


When you get to the top of the mountain, your first inclination is not to jump for joy, but to look around.

James Carville

(Evaluation, Success)


If we are going to wait until every possible hindrance has been removed before we do a work for the Lord, we will never attempt to do anything.

T. J. Bach

(Mission, Boldness)


To every disadvantage there is a corresponding advantage.

W. Clement Stone

(Disadvantage, Perspective)


The best way to prepare for the coming of Christ is never to forget the presence of Christ.

William Barclay

(Christmas, Second Coming)


The good things which belong to prosperity are to be wished, but the good things which belong to adversity are to be admired.


(Prosperity, Character)

Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.

Winston Churchill

(Achievement, Success)

He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity. Heaven prepares good men with crosses.

Ben Johnson

(Strength, Suffering)

Adversity is often the window of opportunity for change. Few people or organizations want to change when there is prosperity and peace. Major changes are often precipitated by necessity.

Leith Anderson

(Change, Opportunity)

God loves us in good times and bad... but he is even more real in our lives when we are having tough times.

Job Gibbs

(Trials, God's Love)

All the wrong people are against it, so it must be right.

James Carville

(Persecution, Opposition)

By the time I'm climbing back up from going down, I'm already thinking about the next play.

Joe Namath

Hall of Fame quarterback

(Courage, Discipline)


The error of youth is to believe that intelligence is a substitute for experience, while the error of age is to believe that experience is a substitute for intelligence.

Lyman Bryson

(Intelligence, Experience)

Age is important no less than youth itself, though in another dress. And as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars invisible by day.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Growth, Maturity)


To be ambitious of true honor and of the real glory and perfection of our nature is the very principle and incentive of virtue; but to be ambitious of titles, place, ceremonial respects, and pageantry, is as vain and little as the things are which we court.

Sir Philip Sidney

(Honor, Virtue)

The kind of successor I may get may depend a great deal on the kind of predecessor I've been and how I've related to my own predecessor. To reject the past and ignore the future... is both selfish and foolish.

Warren W. Wiersbe

(Past, Future)

The slave has but one master, the ambitious man has as many as there are persons whose aid may contribute to the advancement of his fortunes.

Jean de la Bruyere

(Freedom, Slavery)

We all want to be great, but we don't want folks to know we want to be great.

Phil Lineberger

(Pride, Deception)

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Mark Twain

(Greatness, Criticism)


Speak when you're angry—and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret.

Laurence J. Peter

(Self-control, Tongue)


Anxiety is the great modern plague. But faith can cure it.

Smiley Blanton

(Faith, Peace)


Think about people who find themselves in religious ruts. They discover a number of things about themselves. They will find that they are getting older but not getting any holier. Time is their enemy, not their friend.... They were not any better last year than they had been the year before.

A. W. Tozer

(Holiness, Routine)


Unspoken premises direct the course of any civilization.

The ideas which are not even argued are the building blocks of society.

James Newby

(Civilization, Ideas)


It is not so important to be serious as it is to be serious about the important things. The monkey wears an expression of seriousness which would do credit to any scholar, but the monkey is serious because he itches.

Robert M. Hutchins

(Perspective, Importance)

There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes.

William J. Bennett

(Work, Values)