Starting in 1955, as you know, with $500, my wife as the only member and stuck in the rooftop of a snack bar of a drive-in theater, the only church I had for six years. It would take that long for God to get a young minister inspired to build a church where the sky could show itself, and the sun could shine and the stars could be seen and we could watch the whisper of the breeze tipping the tops of the trees. So that if the sermons are boring, at least you could have a pleasant place to sit. Isn't that neat?
I'm going to go back to where we came. I was profoundly influenced in my life, by a man whom I knew as a friend before he became an Evangelist, his name was Billy Graham. I was profoundly influenced by another minister, who called me to begin this church and paid my first monthly salary. His name was Norman Vincent Peale. And then I was profoundly influenced by the Archbishop Fulton Sheen. No theologian ever brought psychology and theology together more effectively than he did. He became a model for me, and inspired me to become a television preacher. He was the first. It's been my pleasure and challenge to write thirty books. We are now seen in almost a hundred countries. It's amazing.
When I first wrote about the positive thinking principles of possibility thinking, I had not really tried it that long. What's happened since then? I look at the congregation, why, where are the kids that listened to these lectures? They're gone. Boy, one became an astronaut, David Leestma, who's the head of all the astronauts today. I don't take credit for him. But he did grow up in this church. You bet he did.
Oh, one became a baseball player, Burt Blyleven. And I'm talking about kids who sat there from childhood and listened to the power of possibility thinking! And they went off to win gold medals in the Olympics. Janet Evans, another member of this church. And they're in theater and entertainment and arts today. And they're into politics; both Democrats and Republicans. I kind of have a problem. I mean, arranging it so they don't all come to church here in the same Sunday.
Possibility thinking transcends politics, races, ethnics, creeds and theologies! If you've been listening to my series of messages on prayer last year, you'll know that possibility thinking is the first level of prayer. That's where its power comes from. Oh, we've seen what it's done through these years. It's been quite incredible.
Possibility thinking is the ultimate need of every single person. I don't care how rich you are! Or how poor. How educated you are, or how uneducated. Ultimately you can think and you can think negatively or positively. So though, during these thirty years, I've been trying to apply possibility thinking into architecture, engineering, economics.
It is possible. Nothing happens until somebody has a vision! A dream that's impossible! But wow, wouldn't it be great if it were possible? Story of my life is dreaming up dreams. They're all impossible. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they could be made possible?
Possibility thinking! You say, it's impossible! Oh, no. Let me give you these Ten Commandments for possibility thinking. Commandment number one: Never reject a possibility because you see something wrong with it. Hey, there's something wrong with every good idea.
Commandment number two: Never reject a possibility because you won't get the credit. Hey. In my flagship book I wrote the line, "God can do terrific things through the person who doesn't care who gets the credit."
Commandment number three: Never reject an idea simply because it's impossible. Every truly great idea is impossible. That's what makes it stand out! Because it hasn't been done yet! And that gives leaders an opportunity to be leaders and not imitators.
Someone said to me, "Schuller, I'll be glad and go along with it just as soon as I understand it." He said, "You know, I'll become a believer, but I still got some questions and I won't become a believer until I get my questions answered." And I said, "If you had all your questions answered, you couldn't become a believer, because a believer is somebody who makes a commitment before he has the answers." That's what faith is. Of course.
Commandment number four: Never reject a possibility because your mind is already made up. Hey, you know I've learned a lot of theology from the architects that I've worked with. And I've worked with the greatest architects of our century. Louis Kahn said it, "If I've got all the answers, I can be sure of one thing, some of my answers are wrong." That's humility.
Commandment number five: Under no circumstances do you advocate or approve an illegal act. The beautiful thing about a democracy is we elect the people, they can change the laws.
Commandment number six: Never reject an idea because you don't have the money and the manpower and the mental power or the muscle or the time to pull it off. Listen, the power of a vision and the power of a dream out paces any obstacles.
I have faced obstacles, money obstacles, I still do. Manpower obstacles, I still do. Because if I'm living by faith and following the guidance of God, He will give me ideas that are impossible and I have to move to the edge and make the decision before I can prove I can pull it off.
Commandment number seven: Hey, every new idea creates oppositions. Every new proposal offends someone. In a free society every single great idea, if it's proposed, will generate conflict. This separates the leaders from the followers; the men from the boys. Oh yes. I've had a little experience.
Commandment number eight: Never reject an idea because it's not your style. It's not your way of doing things. Your way isn't important. Success is more important than style. What's important is what's the right way? Learn to accommodate. Prepare to compromise. Plan to adjust. Re-adjust your budget. Compromise your taste. Accommodate your life-style. Because success is more important than style. Never reject an idea because it's not your style.
Commandment number nine: Or never reject an idea because it might fail! You know the line, "I'd rather attempt to do something great and fail, then attempt to do nothing and succeed!"
Commandment number ten: Never reject an idea because it's sure to succeed. My psychology teaching at Hope College, and I thank the President of Hope College for the kind of an education I got, taught me that some people fail because they are afraid of success. Very true.
Believe me, I'm practicing what I'm preaching. I just want to be the best friend to every human being I meet. And I don't care if you're red or yellow, black or white. You're the same! You've got a brain, you can think! You've got a heart, you can dream! You live in a free country, you can get an education! You've been rejected? Hey, you can do anything you want to do if you look at the possibilities.
Lord, You brought us together again. You're trying to get a message through to us. You believe in us. You created us. You've given us the power to dream dreams. You have given us the power to believe in the impossible. When You created humans, You created the first animal that had the ability to believe in the impossible and we conceived and believed in You! Wow. Wow. Wow. Thank You. Amen.