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5 Things Christians Must Remember When Sharing Their Story

At a bloggers conference last month, I spoke on the power, purpose, and responsibility of story-telling. The last item, responsibility, generated a lot of discussion over the following two days.

Turns out, a lot of people have experienced the turmoil that comes from writing and publishing stories—some of which are not only ours to share. We had a lot of great conversation and realized that this topic needs much more awareness. So, I want to share what I discussed with the writers about the 5 major things to remember when telling stories—especially in light of our desire to do so for God’s glory.

1) All of our stories exist for God’s glory.

Storytelling is a popular concept and buzzword right now. Everyone is talking about storytelling, from marketers to churches. The truth is every culture shares stories. It’s part of the human experience to relate to one another through the things that have happened to us. Generally, there are five reasons people share stories.

  • To create an experience.
  • To build a relationship.
  • To inspire people.
  • To move people to buy something or take action.
  • To communicate something important in a way people will relate to.

Jesus was no stranger to stories either. He used stories because He understood how to reach people’s hearts. Jesus reminded us that there is a greater purpose for sharing stories: to point us to the glory of God. And our stories help us relate the glory of God in our lives to the people we’re sharing them with.

2) We must have the proper heart motivation in sharing our story.

In Mark 5, a respected Jewish man named Jairus approached Jesus and asked him to heal his daughter who was near the point of death. Jesus went to the man’s house, after making a stop along the way to heal another woman. Before they could arrive, some friends from Jairus’ house reported that the little girl had already died.

Upon arriving, Jesus informed the crowd that the girl was only sleeping. In spite of their doubt and laughter, he entered the home and raised the little girl up. Of course, everyone was amazed at what he had done. But then he did something completely strange. He instructed the crowd to tell no one about what he had done.

So, why not tell? No one knows for sure, but we do know Jesus is all about the condition of our hearts and has a deep concern for the well-being of others. Maybe their motivations would not have been for His glory but rather their glory. Maybe it would have done more harm than good to the little girl he had just healed. Those are just a couple of guesses, but it should make us think.

Everyday, thousands of blogs are started online. Everyone has something to say. Before we share our stories, we need to ask ourselves, “why?” Who am I sharing this for? What platform should I really be sharing on? Our goal in sharing our stories is not self-promotion, but rather promoting the works of God.

3) We must be responsible storytellers.

In an internet culture addicted to gossip and trending news, there is a tendency to get caught up putting a sensational spin on the stories we share. But more important than our web traffic is our responsibility as storytellers.

When we have a story to tell, we have a responsibility to guard hearts and relationships. Before pressing “send” or “publish,” it is critical that we sit down and have a conversation with those involved. Will they hurt by what we are sharing? Is there unfinished business that needs to be handled? Before sharing a story, get permission and ensure healing has occurred or is on its way.

And most importantly of all, protect children and the innocent when sharing a story. Do not exploit heartstrings and emotions by putting children or the poor on display. Raise awareness, yes. Fight for the oppressed, certainly. But be sure not to become the one exploiting the helpless for selfish reasons.

4) Aim to be faithful, not famous.

There are over 242 million blogs on the internet. Two are created every second, 7200 every hour, and 172,800 a day. Most likely, if you start a blog, you will just be another drop in the ocean of people sharing stories.

Maybe it’s time for a heart check: are you after what God wants for you? If He took all your readers away or never brought as many as you hoped, would you be okay with that?

The possibilities and places are endless for where and how and when to share your story, and they may not all culminate in a well-known blog. Our goal in sharing our stories should not to gain more traffic or to reach more people. Our first goal is to be faithful with the stories we have to share.

5) There is great benefit in partnering with others on one platform.

Don’t become a lonely storyteller. Partner with others who have the same goal. This is one of the reasons Shattered exists. We want to partner with you and give a platform to help ordinary people tell their stories of an extraordinary God. We believe it is a worthwhile endeavor and can have a great impact.

There is strength in community. Join in where momentum is already happening. There is already plenty of noise clutter in the world. If we do this together, we stand a better chance to be heard and can make a larger impact.

[Image via jeffrey james pacres/Flickr]

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3 Comments

  1. Rachael, I LOVE this! It makes me know all the more that I if I can’t share truth, then I can’t write! (At least, I don’t want to…) I also thought your point about Jesus raising the girl from the dead was quite ponder-worthy! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

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  2. Andrew Kuzyk
    480 251 6578
    [email protected]

    The World’s Only 6 Time Cancer Survivor

    Andrew Kuzyk

    Each year right around Christmas, I post a simple message to thousands of folks I’ve never even met, telling them essentially, “I’m still alive.” My oncology doctors told me years ago that “I’m the only six-time cancer survivor in the World” Within days, a tremendous chorus comes back, 175 voices, 500. Many ask, “How did you survive?” They sometimes begin, “Tears are flowing”. A few answer back in kind; “Right there with ya”. It’s now eight years and I am still on this Earth.

    Surviving cancer once, twice, maybe three times may be rare, but six times is simply unheard of. What is in a human being to survive is beyond explainable. We have all heard about survival instinct, but until you are put into a survival situation you have no idea what you are really capable of. I am truly a remarkable fighter who has beaten cancer SIX times, also suffering from Lupus and Alzheimer’s I have defied any and all expectations to reach my 53rd birthday! I am still fighting despite enduring a multitude of cancer operations, including two my surgeons thought I would not even survive. I have every wicked surgery scar to remind me of my 6 multiple battles with deadly cancers.

    Being a feisty father & grandfather from McDonough, Georgia I have fought through so many medical issues it is mind boggling. My health issues began when I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma at 8 years old. Then an acute cancerous appendix at the ripe age of 17, I required emergency surgery just before the organ would have ruptured, causing fatal infection to my body. Appendix cancer tends to be rare, affecting an estimated 600 to 1,000 Americans each year. Unfortunately, appendix cancer often remains undiagnosed, like mine was until my emergency surgery. Appendix cancer mysteriously has no known cause. At the time I had no idea I would tangle with cancer yet again soon. I had always been a physically active person. A few months after the bout with appendix cancer, I had several episodes of pain in the upper right quadrant of my abdomen. I thought I may have gallstones and decided to avoid high-fat foods because a high fat diet increases gallstone risk.

    Later that year, however, I started having steady nausea that became constant. I was also having some coronary artery issues and was scheduled to have several stents surgically inserted. It was in the recovery room after the cardiac stent procedures when I felt unbearable pain in my midsection. My doctor ordered an abdominal ultrasound, which showed irregular thickening of the gallbladder walls. “They couldn’t rule out carsinoma” A surgical specialist reassured me that “cancer was highly unlikely”. “He had done thousands of gallbladder surgeries and rarely saw gallbladder cancer. He said, “It was very rare, and if that were the case, you would probably be dead by now”. Well, my surgeon removed my gallbladder laparoscopically, but the news wasn’t good. Unfortunately, the pathology came back showing T2 gallbladder cancer. I fought the disease by having my cancerous bladder removed before the cancer could invade my entire system. “The statistics for gallbladder cancer are not very reassuring. I went into surgery hoping to live two years.” My wife and five chihuahuas were very supportive during my treatment. “My wife was a blessing to me, always making sure I stayed positive and being so supportive”.

    Two years later, I went to a dermatologist to have a mole examined. I have a condition called displatic nevi syndrome, meaning I have a higher potential for skin cancer than others. My moles are darker than average and tend to turn into the deadly malignant melanoma. Two shave biopsies were performed and pathology tests showed very deep Breslow depths with tumors present in deep margins as well as peripheral. An oncology team referred me to a general surgeon after reviewing my poor prognosis. With deadly stage 4 malignant melanoma, a wide excision surgery was the only radical treatment known to attack and remove the cancer. It is a miracle in itself to survive a stage 4 cancer attack. The cancer left my back looking like a cruel battleground of scars. The surgeon cut as deep as possible, but still did not know if he got it all. I would have to be examined for the rest of my life for the possible return of the deadly malignant melanoma cancer.

    “The toughest one was the renal cell carsinoma “kidney cancer” surgery.” Having a kidney removed was the most difficult of any of the 6 cancer surgeries” Just one year previous, I was forced to have my left leg surgically sawed in half and almost amputated because of infection, to remove a malignant bone tumor lodged in the center of my leg bone. The recovery period for these two surgeries was intense and lengthy. My body now looks like a battlefield with scars everywhere. A major skin graft was taken from my upper thigh tissue to cover the wide excision scars on my back. Somehow I fought through these cancer surgeries through prayer and perseverance. “After one operation, I opened my eyes and the surgeon actually told me the operation was over, but he wasn’t certain if I would pull through, due to serious infection concerns. My 6 multiple cancer diagnoses don’t appear to be based on genetics, just dumb luck.

    Two years after the grim Stage 4 diagnosis, I confessed to a close friend that the doctors had said I realistically only had two years to live, tops. I had kept this information to myself because if I were to say it, then it’s true. I now continue to hold my breath, now that I am now past that deadline. I have spent the last 8 years holding my breath, as I enact every New Year’s resolution, past and future. There’s a small subcategory of people with Stage 4 cancer, it turns out, who live for years after being diagnosed. This group constitutes about 2 percent of all cancer cases. Doctors can’t predict who will fall into this category.

    I told them “I’m a fighter”. Somehow I have managed to fend off the infection and slowly recovered. I pulled through because of my fighting spirit, belief in God and the skill of the surgeons who performed the procedures to remove the deadly cancer. I now fight a myriad of daily health issues including Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, lupus, heart disease, peripheral neuropathy, and needing both knees surgically replaced. I now live with my wife and chihuahuas in a small basement as the camper we were living in burned down recently, we are barely hanging on to survive these days.

    “I’ve had it tough with the cancer and other ailments I guess” I cannot really do much at all these days. I consider himself a cancer “frequent flyer” being operated on now for 6 bouts with different cancers. “how many people can say that?” I try not to let my physical and mental conditions run my life, but it takes everything that is within me to get through another painful day. If you want to help a friend diagnosed with cancer, just be there. Friends can’t make the fact that you have cancer go away. They can’t make it all better. They can, however, help you feel safer. “when your scared, it’s important to know that someone is there”.

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