How did you first hear about Jesus? Did someone tell you their story? People love to hear stories. Look at all the time we spend watching movies, reading books, and scrolling through Facebook. Yet, the tendency for all of us humans is to spend way too much time telling about ourselves, focusing on ourselves. This article will help you to stay Christ-focused when given the opportunity to tell your story.
Storytelling focuses on self.
Storytelling is popular these days, especially on social media. We are continually prompted to “Add to story” on Facebook. Yet, the focus is on “me, me, me, what I am doing, where I am going, who is with me.” We already deal with a society filled with deluded narcissists. Narcissism is an unhealthy self-focus that is so centered on promoting oneself that it does damage to anyone who doesn’t bolster one’s image. The “deluded” aspect refers to the impact of media and technology that allows children, adolescents, and young adults to become “faux celebrities—lead actors in their own fictionalized stories.” I wrote about this epidemic of narcissism in a previous article.
We all love stories. We get to know people by getting to know their stories. That is true in our churches as well.
Sharing one’s “life story” has been a popular activity in church ministries. In recent years, women’s Bible Study books have encouraged the use of “life maps” to help someone review their life story. What bothers me is when the instructions say to share my “life story,” not my “faith story.” What is my “life story” without my faith in Christ interwoven in it?
Is it “my” story or “His” story in me?
When you look at stories shared in the Bible, the ones that leave God out are usually from people who reject Him or who prefer to go their own way even though they know about God. Telling my life story without my faith in Christ interwoven in it is a lot of focus on me—what happened to me, what I did, and with whom. In Philippians 3:8, Paul said all of that is “rubbish” compared to knowing Christ.
My story should include whether I was obedient or disobedient to whatever revelation was given to me at the time. How did I trust Him with whatever challenge I faced? How did He get me through it? What did I learn that benefited me for the next challenge? What would my story be without Christ’s story in my life?
Now, I don’t believe that our God is a micro-manager, directing every moment of our lives. He did give us brains to use to make decisions. Yet, He does expect us to respond in faith to whatever revelation is given to us at the time—primarily through His Word. And I do believe that He is good all the time, in different ways to each of us, and in what He allows or does not allow into our lives. Shouldn’t those aspects of our faith walk with Christ be continually woven into our “life stories?”
Overcome the tendency to focus on self.
We as women can be very verbal in telling about ourselves—how we did this well and how we did that not so well. We easily talk about our accomplishments and the tragedies that shaped us, occasionally throwing in something about where God was in the mix at that time. Twenty minutes of storytelling are pretty easy to fill with details about “me.”
How often have you listened to someone sharing their “testimony” who spent 75% of the time talking about themselves and all the mistakes they made on their own? Then, finally, toward the end of their time on stage, they mention trusting in Christ and maybe a few things that have changed since then. It is too easy to stay focused on “me” even when supposedly sharing a faith story. The tendency is to spend most of the time on your “before” experience.
That is why I always recommend spending only 30% of the time talking about your life before Christ when you share your story and the rest of the time on how He drew you to Him and changed your life since. Only give enough information of your pre-Christ life that leads the listeners to know why you needed Christ in your life so they can identify with you. Stay Christ-focused when telling your story.
Declare His faithfulness through your story.
Believers communicate the gospel in several ways. Two of the most powerful are through sharing the gospel message itself and through sharing one’s own faith story. People can reject the facts or logic of the gospel, but it is very hard to argue with someone about your experience with knowing Christ. If the Holy Spirit gives you the opportunity to share your life story with a non-Christian, make sure you focus on your relationship with Jesus as you lived out your life.
Sometimes parts of our life story help us to relate to another woman. She hears what you have been through, helping her to connect with you. This might enable a future friendship with her and ministry to her. Isn’t that also an opportunity to share what difference knowing Christ has made in those situations?
I do not believe we should share our “life story” without including our “faith story.” You and I should share the difference Jesus has made in our lives since the day we chose to follow Him as His disciple. Before that time, and even since, my efforts—though filled with achievements—are “rubbish” compared to knowing Christ. So how can I leave that out?
As you recall God’s goodness to you in whatever situations you have faced, you now have a story to share. It is your personal story about your faith in a faithful God. Sharing your story is a simple way to speak about God’s love for you and how He works in your life. You can bring hope to someone who needs it.
Jesus met a man who had severe demonic possession; the guy had been miserable for years. His story is in Mark 5:1-20. After Jesus freed him from that horrible existence, the man wanted to get in the boat with Jesus and follow Him everywhere. Wouldn’t you? But, Jesus told him to go back to his people and tell them everything that God had done for him. He would be a light-bearer to his family, his neighbors, and others who would not likely hear about Jesus any other way.
How did you first hear about Jesus? Did someone tell you? We get the awesome privilege of sharing that good news with others. There is tremendous joy in reaching out to those who do not know Jesus and introducing them to Him so they can know Him just as you now know Him.
Think of it this way: Imagine you had cancer and were chosen to be part of a special test group for a new cure. The treatment cured all of your cancer completely free of charge. What is the first thing you would do after you were healed? You would blast it all over Facebook, telling all of the other cancer victims about this great cure! Well, sin is a cancer affecting every single person. And you have been cured—forgiven of your sins—by your faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you remember how you felt before you believed in Jesus? Maybe you felt lonely, guilty, and without hope. The entire world is lost without Him. Jesus chooses to have His followers tell His story—what He does for them and through them.
You have a story to share that illustrates the power of Jesus Christ in your life and declares God’s faithfulness to you. You do not need to be an expert in the Bible or have years of experience as a Christian. Just share what you know to be true in your life. Stay Christ-focused when telling your story.
To help you interweave your life story with your faith story, check out these resources:
- Put Your Faith Into Words
- My Faith Story Worksheet
- Declare God’s Faithfulness
- Jesus, Lover of a Woman’s Soul Bible Study (applications help you prepare your story)
- Other disciplemaking resources at melanienewton.com
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