The one-minute video and quote below became the bumper for our sermon series, A Better Kind Of Life: Five Habits That Change Everything. I received several requests for the quote, so here it is along with a little background on Fredrick Langbridge, who wrote this piece in 1888.
Here is the full quote. It comes from The Happiest Half-Hour: Sunday Talks With Children, by Frederick Langbridge. In the chapter Langbridge is reminding children that they are forming habits all day long.
When they are young, they are "soft clay in the potter's hands," but the older they get the more they are "like the finished piece of pottery--cold and hard, cast in a final shape, stamped with an eternal device." Then he writes
So you, little people, are daily and hourly fixing your character. Never still – always up and doing – hands and feet and tongue and brain for ever busy – you crowd a vast amount of feeling and thinking and acting into a day of life. And feeling becomes thought, and thought becomes action; and actions have a tendency to repeat themselves; and repeated actions make a habit; and all your habits placed in a row and summed up make your character, and your character is YOU.
Think of what I say – for it is a serious matter. Every time you go to bed your clay is so many hours nearer to its final mould. A few years of such days – a long time to look forward, but a short time to look back upon – and there you will be: a beautiful goodly vase, or a cracked, misshapen vessel, fit only for base and vulgar uses. We are our own potters; for our habits make us, and we make our habits. Though of course our surroundings and associations have a good deal to do with the matter – all of these have a finger in the pie or on the piece of pottery. Remembering this, we should be very careful to choose so far as we can helpful and noble associations.
Langbridge wrote The Happiest Half-Hour as a collection to be read aloud to children by a parent or adult friend. He used language and experiences common to children because he wanted them to see Sunday as the keynote of the week, not as a day divorced from the other six.
"Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue" Peter said. What virtuous habits are occupying your time?
- Click here for the series A Better Kind Of Life: Five Habits That Change Everything.
- Video production complements of Stephen Olmo, Spanish River Church.
- "So you, little people, are daily and hourly fixing your character . . ." by Frederick Langbridge, The Happiest Half-Hour: Sunday Talks with Children. London: The Religious Tract Society. 1888. Page 65 (in Chapter IX: Twigs and Trees).
- "Soft clay in the potter's hands ..." from The Happiest Half-Hour, page 64.
- "A diction reserved . . ." from The Happiest Half-Hour, page 6.