Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Mt. Everest Climber Had the Wrong Goal

In his best-selling book, Into Thin Air, John Krakauer tells the story of the ill-fated expedition to the summit of Mount Everest in 1996. In the book he mentions a member of the expedition named Yasuko Namba. Ms. Namba was a 46-year-old Japanese FedEx employee with a passion for climbing. She was an accomplished climber, having reached the summits of seven of the largest mountains on the planet. The only one left for her to conquer was Everest, the tallest in the world. She desperately wanted to get to the top of Everest as well.

This was her goal. So much so that Krakauer, who was also a member of the expedition, tells how "Yasuko was totally focused on the top. It was almost as if she was in a trance. She pushed extremely hard, jostling her way past everyone to the front of the line. She wanted to get to the top of Everest." Later that day, she made it. She accomplished her goal. She was the oldest person ever to make it to the highest point in the world.

Later that afternoon, however, Yasuko and a number of other climbers were caught in a terrible blizzard. And as the icy winds blew, Yasuko succumbed to the exhaustion of her climb and froze to death. Yasuko Namba died agonizingly close in time and location to where she had gained her greatest prize. This helps explain her tragic mistake. According to Krakauer, Yasuko's fatal flaw was that she adopted the wrong goal. Yasuko's goal had been to get to the top of the mountain. What she wanted the most was to stand at the top of the world, and all of Japan cheered her when she did. But this was the wrong goal, and a frequent and sometimes fatal mistake that climbers make. The goal of climbing should never be to get to the top of a summit. Successful climbers know that the goal is not to get to the top—it is to get back down to the bottom. The tragedy is that Yasuko accomplished her goal. Against incredible odds she made it to the top of the mountain. But as she poured out her energy to get to the top, she did not save enough strength to make it back down. Yasuko failed because she adopted the wrong goal.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Every Christian Is Called to Pursue Bold Leadership

Claude Alexander, bishop of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, urges Christians from all walks of life to step up into bold leadership. Here's his take on bold leadership: ...

[Read More]

Six Ways People Find Meaning in Work

American essayist, historian, and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote: "It is not enough to be industrious. So are the ants." The British science magazine New Scientist recently ...

[Read More]