Joel Barker, in his magnificent book, Future Edge, tells of a practical joke engineers used to play on new engineers at the GE Company. It was in the 30s and new engineers were given a lecture. The department director would tell them to look at a light bulb and he would say, "Do you see the hot spot on this bulb? Your job is to develop a new coating that smoothes that illumination out so the entire surface of the bulb will glow in a uniform manner." The idea was that the new engineer would work for weeks and come back and admit he couldn't do it. At that time, he would be told that it was impossible. This was a kind of initiation ceremony. This all played out according to plan until around 1952, when a new engineer returned to the director, screwed in a light bulb with a new coating and a uniform illumination. All the director could say was, "Yup, that's it." A joke was over, but a new coating for light bulbs had been invented. It is amazing what people can do when they believe they can.


J. Michael Shannon is professor of preaching at Cincinnati Bible College in Cincinnati, OH.