Posted by: pmarkrobb | February 1, 2016

what is your takeaway?

My two sons really liked the sermon and guest speaker at our church yesterday morning.  They told me as much as we began our ride home.  I sensed something a bit deeper than just a “liking” as they spoke, so I chose to do a little exploring with a responsive question.  “What was your takeaway?” I asked.

The guest speaker had suggested one at the end of his sermon and I was curious if his specific challenge resonated with the boys or whether there was some other (more personal) place or thing in their life which was tweaked.  My eldest son spoke first and did a really good job speaking the truths of the morning in his own life language.  My youngest was quick to add that he agreed with his brother.   It was obvious that both boys paid close attention and connected with what was shared.  I smiled (on the inside and the outside) and affirmed their words and thoughts, but also added, “That wasn’t really what I was asking.”

Poor kids.  They didn’t protest the evening before when I announced we were going to early service.  They woke themselves, showered, made their beds, ate breakfast and were completely ready to go exactly when I asked them to be.  They ushered, sat quietly, sang sincerely and listened intently.  Then they were thoughtful and well-spoken in response to their dad’s question … and yet, that wasn’t enough! 🙂

My boys were gracious as I clarified my question.  A “takeaway” was not a summary of their understanding of what was taught, but rather a thing(s) they were moved to do more deeply or differently in response to what was taught.  Understanding is an essential part of a takeaway, but it is wholly incomplete without intentional action.  It was a great conversation (that I am sure the boys were glad to be saved from when we arrived at home) that I recalled while taking a walk later that morning.

As I walked, I began to consider how many people engage truth in that manner (seeking a takeaway).  How do I engage it?  We listen to teachers and preachers, read books and study the Bible, but do we do those things passively or actively?  Are we simply satisfied with learning something or does what we learn motivate us to action?  After reading Exodus 27-28 and Matthew 21 today, will you finish satisfied in knowing that you completed your task for the day?  Will you move on to your next task contented with a nugget of knowledge or wisdom you gleaned while reading?  Has reading the Bible followed that pattern in your life lately?

Eugene Peterson wrote a book several years ago motivated by the belief that the way we read the Bible is more important than the fact that we read it.  I love the book’s title … Eat This Book.  I love the imagery and association with “consuming” scripture.  Think about the activity of “chewing” scripture — repeatedly considering it, tearing into it, wrestling with it, and breaking it down to its most basic thoughts and truths.  Then think of “swallowing” it — the entire digestive process, breaking it down even further, allowing its life-giving and sustaining nutrients to absorb into your blood stream and be the fuel that creates the energy you need to walk worthy of your calling.

I believe we’d do well to ask the “takeaway” question each time we listen, read or study.  Don’t be satisfied with knowing about God.  Know Him … and then know Him more.  Don’t stop at believing in Jesus.  Follow Him … and then keep picking up your cross daily to follow Him further.  What is your takeaway in reading today?



  1. Another timely post. Thank you for this. I’ve definitely been reading without looking for the takeaway for the last week or so. Time to make some changes!

  2. Thanks for this. Takeaway can cost, help me Lord.

  3. Thanks for your time in sharing this. Also in living it with your boys. 🙂

    “Takeaway”, to me, implies that something is being given. Father, might we better know what You have given and provided for us to take away……..that we might be taking what You have truly given – Life!

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