Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Embracing Regret

According to Daniel Pink, writing in the Wall Street Journal, regret is the second most common emotion felt among human beings. Pink argues that regret isn’t just common, it’s actually beneficial:

For all its intuitive appeal, the “No Regrets” approach is an unsustainable blueprint for living. At a time like ours—when teenagers are battling unprecedented mental-health challenges, adults are gripped by doubt over their financial future, and the cloud of an enduring pandemic casts uncertainty over all of our decisions—it is especially counterproductive.

I have collected and analyzed more than 16,000 individual descriptions of regret from people in 105 countries. One of them was Abby Henderson, a 30-year-old, who wrote: “I regret not taking advantage of spending time with my grandparents as a child. I resented their presence in my home and their desire to connect with me, and now I’d do anything to get that time back.” Rather than shut out this regret or be hobbled by it, she altered her approach to her aging mother and father and began recording and compiling stories from their lives. “I don’t want to feel the way when my parents die that I felt about my grandparents of ‘What did I miss?’”

Regret feels awful. It is the stomach-churning sensation that the present would be better and the future brighter if only you hadn’t chosen so poorly, decided so wrongly or acted so stupidly in the past. Regret hurts.

Regret is not … abnormal. It is healthy and universal, an integral part of being human. Equally important, regret is valuable. It clarifies. It instructs. Done right, it needn’t drag us down; it can lift us up.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Pink observes that love and regret are the two most common human emotions. Addressing loves and regrets by preaching a cruciform sermon will hit the lived experience of every person in the room, even if their hearts haven’t yet been broken open to a regretless salvation. When regret brings us to repentance and salvation, it is part of being forgiving and being set free from our past through God’s grace.


Adapted from Bryan J., “Embracing Regret,” Mbird (2-4-22); Daniel Pink “‘No Regrets’ Is No Way to Live,” The Wall Street Journal (1-28-22)

Related Sermon Illustrations

Influenced by Past Memories

Sir Everton Weekes, the legendary West Indian cricketer, stands out as one of the finest sportsmen to come out of the Caribbean. During a glittering career, Everton Weekes played in ...

[Read More]

The Regrets of the Father of the Web

The inventor of the World Wide Web is horrified by what has become of his creation, said Katrina Brooker in Vanity Fair. Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea for ...

[Read More]