Story: A sequence of real or fictional causal events; or, an account of such a sequence.
Storytelling: The act and skills of presenting stories and tales.
Stories are beautiful. And while it is true that the beauty of any story is dependent on the dexterity of the storyteller, every story still possesses, in itself, an intricate beauty. Even truer is the fact that good storytellers are gifts to humanity.
Everything that you know today, that you never experienced firsthand, originated from a story. From how the world was formed, to the challenges of several countries across the world, to the circumstances surrounding your birth. Anything you never experienced firsthand was passed to you through stories.
“Many stories matter. Stories can be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”
Stories have the power to wrap the noose of love around a man’s neck and also make him recoil at the touch of his beloved. Your attitude towards a person, place or organization is usually dependent on the stories you heard about them, whether they be good or bad.
In times past, stories were instrumental in the survival of any people. The task of storytelling rested with the elders, and it was no mundane task. They ensured that the stories passed unto them by their fathers were passed unto their children, trying so hard not to alter important details. Storytellers were necessary for survival. They educated the young about their friends and foes, telling stories of how their ancestors had dealt with their enemies and secured their land for them, teaching them about who was evil and who was good. At 16, every boy and girl knew all about their land and their forefathers, about their triumphs and defeats, their weaknesses and their strengths. But, sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
In today’s world, we have succeeded in keeping our kids so busy in schools that no one cares enough to tell them about their history. Parents, who are to be the ultimate storytellers, assume that years of History classes would educate them enough. We even create courses for a certain group of people and make them study, for years, how our present world came into being. They become our storytellers. But historians can’t trace your ancestry, can they?
In Biblical Times, the Israelites were storytellers. After the passover from Egypt, Moses had spoken openly to them,
“When your children shall say to you, What do you mean by this service? You shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He slew the Egyptians but spared our houses.”
Somehow, the man knew how important that story was. Despite the fact that he wrote every detail of what led to their departure from Egypt, he had entreated them to tell their children about that event. That one event was one that should not forgotten, it was monumental in their quest to become a sovereign nation.
The reason why they became slaves in the first place was because a Pharaoh wasn’t adept enough in his rendering of Joseph’s deeds to his offspring.
“Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.”
In my opinion, a king had failed to tell his successor about how one man, a mere foreign prisoner, had succeeded in saving all of Egypt from famine, making nations to come to Egypt for food. Or he did so, but did so ineptly, not giving Joseph enough credit.
The early Church thrived on stories. Men who had met Jesus never kept quiet. They literally shouted their experiences to the rooftops. In my opinion, the ministry of Jesus was heavily hinged on storytellers. The man born blind, the woman at the well, those at Nain during the resurrection of a young man, etc. were all storytellers. They might not have been experienced in the art of storytelling, but the number of people coming day after day proved them to be effective.
Oh, how beautiful stories are, carrying an ability to save men. Peter’s storytelling at Pentecost brought 3000 to the Church. He knew how much his story mattered. He knew how much the stories he had heard mattered. And, in one glorious moment, he told a story that pricked men’s heart, convicting them and bringing them to the Kingdom.
How God needs storytellers! No greater gift can a man give to society than that of storytelling. Learn stories of men and women who, by their lives, wrought wonders for God. Master their names and learn from their mistakes. Most of all, use your own story to change lives, your own life story to touch people. I’ve never read or heard a story that never moved me.
Learn a story. Tell a story. You will be doing the world so much good.