LONGEST SPEECH, SHORTEST TERM

Neal Pollard

The shortest inaugural address was George Washington’s second, in 1793, and it was comprised of 193 words! William Henry Harrison, though raised a cultured, educated man, campaigned on a folksy ticket symbolized by the log cabin. To set a different, more cultured tone for his presidency, Harrison decided to give a lengthy, erudite speech on a bitterly cold, early March day in 1841. He spoke for nearly two hours, doing so without benefit of a topcoat or hat. Historians are generally agreed that Harrison’s motivation was to show himself not be a country bumpkin or simpleton. While it is unclear if his exposure led to the pneumonia that killed him exactly a month later, it still boils down to a lot of talk and very little execution.

How often do we, as congregations, spend a seemingly endless amount of time outlining, discussing, and rehashing grand plans? Goals and planning are vital to a church’s existence, but so often much talk produces little action. In any congregation’s mind, they are going to be a fast-growing, active, moving, and shaking bunch. Yet, so few churches are that. We spend our time laying out the plan and give ourselves so little time to do it.

We do that in our individual lives, too. We make big plans for tomorrow (cf. Jas. 4:13-15). Like the poet expressed it, “He was going to be all that man should be…tomorrow; no one would be kinder or braver than he…tomorrow.” Yet, the poet depicts the dreamer as one who died today while hoping for tomorrow. Are we making grand, long-winded speeches about all we are going to do? Are we spending such time outlining it that we have so little time left to execute it?

Think of all you know about William Henry Harrison compared to George Washington. Both were thinkers and planners, but oh the difference in how we remember each of the. Think, then do!

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