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5 Keys to powerful story telling

A friend who lives in one of the most dangerous countries in the world – a place where if they know you are a Christian, they kill you – just wrote me an email about the power of stories: For the last month here in this country, I have sat several hours with my friends, both believers and non…
By Seth Barnes

Legacy booksA friend who lives in one of the most dangerous countries in the world – a place where if they know you are a Christian, they kill you – just wrote me an email about the power of stories:

For the last month here in this country, I have sat several hours with my friends, both believers and non believers – everyone is eager to hear stories.

When I tell my story to one of my most fundamentalist friends, I know that in a split second she could turn against  me and hurt me. But when I tell stories with Kingdom principles, instead the Spirit of God touches her heart and she has unspeakable peace.

Good stories are like a memorable song. They stick with you and can move you. And in that sense, they are magical. The story of Jesus's birth is one we never tire of at Christmas. His parents away from home in a foreign town, taking shelter in animal barn. No hospital or doctor. Did they do a variation of Lamaze breathing? Angels, shepherds, kings. And after all that, life on the run to protect the new baby.

In my years of sharing life with people, I've learned about the power stories have to change lives and set people free.

The enemy of our souls hates this and has strategies to keep us from a life where are stories make sense as we share them. The sad thing is, we've lost our campfires, our stories, and the capacity to tell them. We settle for Youtube moments, Facebook updates and tweets. Our lives pass as a series of unconnected ephemera.

To live the life God designed us for, we need to live better stories and we need to relearn the art of telling them.

5 keys
Here are five keys to powerful story telling:

1.    We have one. We all have a story. Most of our stories involve personal pain and God’s intervention.

2.    Secrets. Most of us have secrets that keep the real story from being told. Often our pain is unprocessed, so we keep the secrets locked away,

3.    Shame. Shame is the doorkeeper of our secrets. We break the power of shame by telling the truth about our secrets. Only the whole truth has power.

4.    Keep it personal. When we share, we should share only our personal story, not sermonizing or diluting it with commentary. We should share it in the first person: “I.”

5.    No advice. The response to the story is as important as the story. As listeners, we shouldn't critique or give advice. The proper response to a story is: “Thank you.” 

Knowing the power of stories, understanding that time adds new pieces to our story, we do well to apply these  principles as we share life with one another.

When was the last time you shared your story in a way that revealed your heart? How did it impact your listeners?

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