In his short e-book “Building You Leadership Story”, Michael Kass states the following:
“Story is the basic building blocks of community. Long before we had writing, equations, double blind studies and info graphs, we had story. Tribes of people would gather around the fire and tell stories that defined their community.”
Today, instead of gathering around the fire, it may look a lot more like gathering around a cup of coffee, but the essence and importance of storytelling are the same. As we share our stories, they can build each other up, shape our values, influence our decisions, and ultimately impact our futures.
In 2015, I got to share my own story with the BecomingMe.TV network about how God moved me across the country and altered the course of my life when I stepped out with big faith. What amazes me in a fresh way is how God is still allowing that story to inspire and encourage others today. This week I visited my hometown in California. Over the course of a few days, I was asked about my story at least three times.
One friend, in particular, brought it home for me. She had come across my story video pretty recently and was blown away to hear how I got to where I am today. We talked about it in more detail and marveled at how big our God truly is. As we filled in the missing pieces of our lives since the last time we really talked (something like seven years ago!) we both experienced these crazy “ah-ha” moments where God’s faithfulness struck a deep and personal chord within the other.
I’ll bet you know those moments, too. Maybe you hear something at a conference, over a lunch date, or within in the plot of a movie—the moment when the dots connect back to something very real you’re walking through. A relatable story can be a source of comfort, motivation, perspective, or direction. All too many times, I have heard my own voice echo those of my friend across the table as she shared how many stories left her thinking, “THIS IS FOR ME!”
That’s because our story is more about us.
As she shared some of the insane challenges God has carried her through these last several years, she also shared how the testimonies of others gave her the fuel she needed to press on. (A testimony is just our God-story!) My friend literally stated that she reached a place in the midst of those challenges where she was actively “looking for stories to inspire (her) faith”.
I love that. We should all learn to be in a practice of inviting stories of God’s faithfulness into our midst whenever we face circumstances that take a toll on our faith in Him. When we hear how God came through for someone else, it helps us choose to place our trust in that same God who can come through for us, too.
At one point in our chat, my friend said it this way: “God is not a respecter of persons, so if He did if for them, then He can do it for me.”
Couple these verses together and that’s a principle you can bank on:
“For God does not show favoritism.”
“Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”
(See also: Hebrews 13:8)
Our stories are bigger than just us because that’s the very nature of God. From our own personal journey to the journey of humanity, there is always a bigger influence than the epicenter of a single story. Stories of the Old Testament people pointed to the coming King Jesus (Luke 24:27). Our lives were salvaged for a greater work (Ephesians 2:10). Even God’s overarching scheme for mankind, being the greatest story to ever exist… it’s still not about just us. It’s about magnifying the bigness and goodness of God.
“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Once we have a revelation that our story is never just about us, we can begin to leverage it as a tool to make meaningful connections, journey through life with others, and ultimately reveal God’s magnitude and wisdom for all to marvel at. Stories can provide hope, motivation, and encouragement when it’s needed most. They can unite communities at large, or they can resonate with people on a personal level.
Take some time to get down your God-story this week. Keep a journal of smaller stories where He has shown up in your life. Be on the lookout for opportunities to share them with someone, and equally be ready to receive from others what their stories have to give. The world may be full of stories, but it’s still in need of yours.