We who preach and write, do so in a manner different from which the Scriptures have been written. We write while we make progress. We learn something new every day. We speak as we still knock for understanding...If anyone criticizes me when I have said what is right, he does me an injustice. But I would be more angry with the one who praises me and takes what I have written for Gospel truth than I would be with the one who criticizes me unfairly. -Augustine

Giving Thought to a Matter

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Curiosity killed the cat!” Though curiosity is sometimes derided, this unique characteristic leads to the development of exciting new ideas, which are often implemented for the betterment of society. Robert Fulton, inventor of the first steamboat, possessed childlike curiosity and inventiveness, which preceded his fame.

As I leafed through the book, Boys of Grit Who Changed the World, I came across an inspiring story about Robert Fulton’s childhood. His friend, Christopher Gumpf, often invited Fulton to join his father and him on fishing and rowing trips. Still a child, Fulton found the rowing difficult, so he “invented a set of paddles to work at the side of the boat to be operated by a double crank. Two pieces of lumber were fastened together at right angles with a wide paddle at each end. The crank was attached to the boat near the stern, with the paddle operating on the pivot as a rudder.” (Boys of Grit, p. 40)

Needless to say, Mr. Gumpf was excited about Fulton’s work. The fishing outings had become special events as young Fulton’s common sense and curiosity brought a new perspective to boating, culminating in the invention of the steamboat.

If you lived in Albany, NY or New York City during this time, you would gladly have paid twenty-five cents (and later one dollar) for a ride to work. Fulton’s steamboats were the talk of the towns along the Hudson River, which made travel convenient for workers and opened a myriad of opportunities for new businesses to develop. Robert Fulton’s curiosity and creativity had been unleashed, breaking through the status quo and paving the way for continued progress and innovation.

Do you have a Robert Fulton in your midst? Is he or she given the opportunity to take his or her curiosities to new heights? When God created man in His image, He created him with the capacity to question, to think, to create, and to problem-solve. The first commandment we received was to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion . . .” (Genesis 1:28) It is time for a new generation of Robert Fulton’s to come forth.