Several years back I had the good fortune to meet Steve Hartman, one of America’s great storytellers. Listening to him and another great journalist Les Rose, I learned to embrace the mantra “Everyone Has a Story.”
Everything; each person, organization, product, activity, country, piece of art or idea has a story and just like we learned in school, each of those stories has a beginning, a middle and an end.
The problem with storytelling is that we often get lost in one small portion of the story and fail to share how it all fits together in one growing evolving narrative.
Crafting a compelling story requires us to address several recurring threads.
- Good and bad people exist in every story and we must navigate between them as we share how they advance the narrative. Who do we trust? Who do we manage? Who do we avoid? More importantly, how do we identify who are the good and bad guys?
- While there are important numbers, facts, guidelines and fundamentals it is the human element that is most important. What drives the characters? How did they get into their predicaments and how can we be the hero who helps shape the future?
- History exists for a reason. We can consult it, learn from it, try to cover it up or celebrate it but we can’t re-live it, re-shape it, re-write it or return to it.
It is a critical part of the story but it is only background information. The biggest question is, “What are we going to do with what we have learned?”
- Relationships matter. The hero seldom triumphs without help from somewhere. We all have ad hoc and pre-existing networks that are critical, continually expanding, finite resources. However, our greatest “help” is infinitely more powerful than any network that surrounds us or adversity in front of us.
As people of faith we are encouraged even commanded to call on the God who created the universe. We are challenged to believe He cares for us, wants only the best for us and is able to do all He has promised and much more.
We serve an amazing God. He protects us, rescues us, provides for us, shelters us and guides us.
That is a compelling story with a great beginning already written and a great middle we live into daily as we grow toward a future with more twists, turns and happy endings than we are able to imagine.
People need our stories of how God has changed and is changing us. Let’s start telling compelling stories that recognize the past, live into the present and shape the future.