What’s Your Story?

The question, “what’s your story” may sound like a cheap pickup line, but I ask it for a reason. Last month my wife and I met up with some friends in Nashville and attended Donald Miller’s conference called Storyline. The overall concept of the conference was simple enough, yet it was extremely challenging.

The concept is to use story writing principles to better understand your story and to help clarify your vision for your life. (That’s never a simple task.)What I loved most was what I see as the core theme: 1You are valuable, 2 You have a story to tell (or something to accomplish), 3 The world needs to hear your story.

Over the course of two packed days, Don Miller and a number of other people present this message to you. I laughed. I cried. I felt so small. And at times I felt like I could take on the whole world!

Allow me to dig into the core theme for a moment:

On the surface that sounds simple enough, but how many of us haven’t forgiven ourselves for screwing something up? How many of us have had circumstances or even people tell is we are worthless, or we will never amount to anything?

We have to get past all of that noise long enough to hear the still small voice that speaks quietly in our heads; “you are valuable”, “you are unique”, “you are loved”. It’s then and only then that we can see ourselves as being valuable and being worthy enough to contribute to the lives of others.

Having a sense of self worth is good, but it can’t stop there. Self worth alone will likely lead to pride. We need to understand that we are here for a reason. We are here for a purpose, and we have something to say. Our voice, our story, our “calling” is important and we shouldn’t keep it to ourselves.

How many times have you heard or read a biography of someone who overcame the odds? Hellen Keller could neither hear nor see, but where would we be without her? Thomas Edison failed over a thousand times before he made a lightbulb that worked. George Washington Carver encouraged farmers to grow peanut plants to help fertilize the soil for other crops, and the he had to figure out what to do with all those peanuts! People didn’t even eat peanut butter in those days! He locked himself away and prayed and fasted until he came out of seclusion with over a hundred uses for the lowly peanut. Theses people had a story to tell, and I believe you do too!

What good is a story if it’s never told? Vincent Vango died a poor man, but we can appreciate his art today,BECAUSE HE SHARED IT with someone.

A song unsung is never heard and no one is the richer for it! Sharing our story only makes us stronger because we are giving of ourselves. There is no greater joy than to give something to someone that needs it. We must give and give selflessly without expectation. We ruin the gift (and our blessing) when we set expectations for a response to our giving. As Bob Goff said at the, “we can only hold out cups of water and offer it to people.”

One other question that we had to wrestle with at the conference was, “What will happen if you don’t share your story?”

Some years ago a guy named Joseph had a dream that his brothers were going to bow before him one day. Needless to say his brothers didn’t care too much for his dream and they were envious of the love and attention that Joseph’s father gave him, so they sold him into slavery. His brothers said he was dead and they went on living their lives without him.

Needless to say, Joseph’s life was filled with ups and downs. Years later because of all that happened, Joseph was in the right time with the right skills and the right attitude to save the lives of his brothers. This Biblical account of Joseph is a great example of someone who had a story to tell that the world needed to hear.

What if Joseph hadn’t shared his story? What if you don’t share your story? Remember, you’re valuable. You have something to say,and the world needs to hear it.

So, I’ll ask you again; what’s your story?

This summarizes the key points of the conference that I took away. Simple, profound, and challenging. By all means, feel free to buy the book Storyline since these few words cannot do it justice. Better yet, attend a Storyline event and see if you don’t walk away challenged.