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don’t ignore the runway

Over the past few weeks, I’ve flown from Denver to Nashville and most recently fromĀ Denver to San Jose. On each flight I praised God for the invention of noise-cancelling head phones and asked him to bless the person who donated their’s to Goodwill.

As one who has flown quite a bit, I don’t really pay much attention to the flight itself. It’s one reason I love watching little kids look through the window in amazement as the plane takes off or lands. In reality, it is quite incredible to think about the logistics and mechanics of modern flight.

When it comes to preaching and public speaking, I have noticed that many speakers don’t pay much attention to take offs or landings either. The temptation is to spend all your time and energy focused on the cruising altitude – the body of your message. It is at cruising altitude that our main point is developed and explained. It’s the part of the message that most directly connects to our study and research.

Don’t get me wrong: every flight must get to cruising altitude in order to accomplish its mission.

Unfortunately, some presentations never quite get enough lift because the take-off was either hurried or ill-planned. There is a reason why 747’s require a runway to be of a certain length. But the point is never to stay on the ground but to get in the air.

And, at some point, you must land.

If you’ve ever been caught in an air traffic jam, you know what it’s like to be in a holding pattern. If you’re lucky, you might only circle the airport one time. If you’re lucky. If you’re not, you can feel the frustration building with every loop. The reason is simple: for a flight to be deemed successful, it must travel from point A to point B. Until you’re on the ground, at your gate, your flight isn’t finished.

Some speakers don’t give much thought to the landing. They might have a clever intro, a decent middle, but the closing is left to chance — to whatever comes to mind as they finish. Some times, that works. At other times, it feels like the message is stuck in a holding pattern and no landing is in sight.

If you’re in the preaching or communications business, don’t overlook the importance of getting off the ground and how to land again.

Your passengers will thank you.