Illustration by Dan Williams
As faithful followers of Jesus, we have a deep connection with storytelling.
We know that stories are powerful. The ones we tell and the ones we are told. How we articulate our storiy matters. And how we receive the stories of others can determine if they stick.
Listening to stories is not a passive activity. It’s readying us to act. In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath describe the importance of stories as calls to action; they place knowledge into a living framework.
This past February, five students shared their personal stories during a two-day gathering in Washington, D.C, focused on the issues surrounding Black student debt (p. 6). Each testimonial was honest, compelling, and touching.
Beyond data in a report or research on the page, these living testaments created stories with remarkable depth, prompting action. Personal storytelling is a powerful motivator for change.
How might we listen better? Self-interrogation is one way, as Lakisha Lockhart shares in Present Moment. She challenges us to talk less and listen more, especially to the next generation.
Another way to listen better might simply be by prompting, “tell me more.” One of the three simple phrases explored in Rod Wilson’s delightful “Journeying with Others.” Exercising mindfulness and listening to others can lead to more trusting relationships.
Just as we are called to be active listeners, we must also be active storytellers. It takes time to craft institutional stories. How might we articulate in a compelling way the reasoning behind a newly launched program, or how a new initiative integrates with current priorities? We tell stories related to our history, governance, and spaces. Are stakeholders serving at your school telling the same ones? Honing our stories provides clarity and invites friends, donors, and partners into our work.
You have rich stories to tell. Honing your stories will help to make them stick. Consider the key elements offered in The Star (p. 10) that your team might use as you craft your narratives.
Our faith-filled communities deserve leaders and stakeholders who care deeply as believers in the Gospel – living and leading like Christ – people inspired to boldly tell our school’s stories. In the midst of all of our strategizing, budget balancing, and decision-making, may we make time to listen intently. And may we invite others in to enhance our institutional stories.
We are eager to listen to your stories at In Trust. Tell us more.