Inspirational Quote from Soren Kierkegaard

Inspirational Quote From Soren Kierkegaard

If you regularly follow this blog, you’ll know that we are seeking inspiration from masters of the art of preaching.  The first two, John Newton and John Wesley, preached during the 18th century.   Now we are going to take a jump forward to the 19th century and consider an inspirational quote from Soren Kierkegaard the well-known Danish philosopher, theologian, preacher and author.


Kierkegaard was born on May 5, 1813 in Copenhagen, Denmark to an affluent family.  His mother, Ane, is reported to be a quiet, unassuming person.  She had little formal education.  In fact, she had served as a maid in the family, and in that role caught the eye of Soren’s father, Michael.  She bore seven children to Michael.

Michael Kierkegaard

Michael succeeded as a dealer of wool, and became quite affluent as a result.   In addition, Michael expended time on the philosophies and theological challenges of that time.  This had a huge influence on Soren early in his life and education.

Passing On Guilt

Michael also passed on a sense of guilt to young Soren.  Here is how Wikipedia puts the things that Soren’s father dealt with:

Based on a speculative interpretation of anecdotes in Kierkegaard’s unpublished journals, especially a rough draft of a story called “The Great Earthquake”,[39] some early Kierkegaard scholars argued that Michael believed he had earned God’s wrath and that none of his children would outlive him. He is said to have believed that his personal sins, perhaps indiscretions such as cursing the name of God in his youth[30] or impregnating Ane out of wedlock, necessitated this punishment. Though five of his seven children died before he did, both Søren and his brother Peter Christian Kierkegaard outlived him.[40] Peter, who was seven years Kierkegaard’s elder, later became bishop in Aalborg.[40] 

As a result, Kierkegaard wrote and preached about the hope that sin is past once forgiven by God.  Kierkegaard is also known for being interested in the psychology of faith.

There is much more to know about this fascinating preacher. If you want to learn more about the thought and life of Kierkegaard, check out this link.

The Inspirational Quote from Kierkegaard

This, then in the inspirational quote from Soren Kierkegaard for your reflection:

People have the idea that the preacher is an actor on stage and they are the critics blaming or

The Prompter

praising him.  What they don’t know is that they are the actors on the stage; he (the preacher) is merely the prompter standing in the wings, reminding them of their lost lines.

I find that inspiring to my task of preaching the Good News.  It’s not about me!  It’s about what God is going in the lives of people.  My job is to help people focus their mind on what God is doing.

I know that it is easy to forget this as a preacher.  I so easily can think that I am the actor on the stage, and that I have the job of impressing people with how good I am at this thing we call preaching.  And so, when I am going to preach on a Sunday or during the week, I spend some time in meditation and confession.  It is not about me.  I also think about how I can prompt people to connect to God more meaningfully.

A Revision of Kierkegaard’s Quote

When I was going to retire from full-time ministry some years ago, I came across a revision of this quote that has also given me inspiration to keep preaching.  Someone said that we think that we are the actors on the stage of life, and that God is the audience.  However, the reality is that God is the actor on the stage, and we are the audience, clapping and shouting our approval of his actions and lines.

This encompasses more than preaching, of course.  All of ministry is a reason to celebrate God’s actions.  I think of the people who came to faith, all those who grew in their faith, as well as all those who exercised spiritual gifts powerfully.


That’s the inspirational quote from Soren Kierkegaard for your reflection.  May it impact the way you think about preaching.