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]