It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, a story that is well told can create a thousand pictures for us. A well-crafted narrative can take us on a mental and emotional journey. A great raconteur can weave a narrative that enthralls and captivates us. It can cause us to be reflective. It can even incite us to action and personal change.
Early civilizations utilized storytelling to great effect. Stories were used to pass along information, to teach history and life lessons. As humans we are designed to learn better from stories. They draw our attention and cause us to concentrate on what is being said.
‘We're still hardwired to learn better if someone's words have meaning and emotion to them (proven with science!) because the use of narrative helps our brain focus. That's because the neurons that fire when we're listening to a story are the same ones that'd fire if we were actually doing what's happening in the story (Brilliant: The New Science of Smart, Annie Murphy Paul).
Yes, we all enjoy a good narrative. Every great story will have the following components:
• Simple to understand
• Emotionally impactful
• Connect with the audience
• A protagonist that is relatable
The greatest storyteller of all time is the Lord. Jesus’ use of parables to teach is without equal. First of all what is a parable and why use them? A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. “Parable” means to cast alongside. Jesus’ parables were stories that were “cast alongside” a truth in order to illustrate that truth.
A parable is more commonly understood as an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. He used them in order to impart eternal truths that had real life application. One of the more well-known parables is the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-35).
For most it is easy to see the truth being shown through the Samaritan. We should all strive to be good neighbors. We should also be willing to help someone who is in need.
However, when I read this story, the person who I most strive to be like is the innkeeper. For me, he models what the Christian walk should be. It is his story that incites me to personal change.
A story worth Telling
• He was someone who was simply doing his job. And while doing his job God used him.
It is so easy to get discouraged in this life. We start out thinking about all of the grandiose things we want to do for the Lord. Then we get married, have children and settle into the routine. The biggest challenge often is just ‘showing up.” The innkeeper showed up.
• He was given a promise
The promise was tied to him being obedient. God honors faith and rewards faithfulness. Doing the day to day things is how we develop character and build a legacy. We also have been given a promise (John 14:3) Our labor is not in vain.
Most times we are aware that people are watching and paying attention to us. The life we are living is telling a story to someone. We should strive to ensure that it is a story that is encouraging to others. My pastor says, we should live a life that will make for a good eulogy.
"His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Matt. 25:23