Monday morning, I ran into an old business partner. I hadn’t seen him in for a while. We had worked together for over ten years. Every morning we sat down over cheap coffee and talked about the company and what it might one day provide for us and our families. We shared stories about kids and wives. We told each other of our parents and of dreams and fears. In those seven years we talked about almost everything except our faith. Or more accurately I never talked about my faith. I have often wondered why. We must have had an understanding of sorts. He didn’t believe in much of anything and I was going to respect that. Besides we were professionals and we were at work. There wasn’t room for discussions about faith or about the role Jesus could play in our personal and professional lives.
I realized it remains one of my biggest regrets.
I have often wondered what I would have done differently. My position had made me cautious and I was always worried about crossing a professional boundary or feeling that sharing my faith was some sort of impropriety. I also have to admit I wasn’t sure what would have been effective. I knew a simplistic formula would have been dismissed.
How should I have shared my faith in such an arena? I have come to realize I was overthinking the whole thing. It wasn’t about discovering a certain strategy, it was about telling a story, my story.
Stories are powerful. They paint mental pictures and appeal to our emotion and intuition. Most importantly they can foster belief. Jesus knew this. He was the consummate story teller. He told crowds of lost sons and forgiving fathers (Luke 15). He spoke of unjust judges (Luke 18) and the kindness of strangers (Luke 10:25-42). His stories communicated truth in ways that people might understand.
Our stories do not need to be as humorous as Twain’s, or be able to challenge society as did Harper Lee’s, they just need to be ours. Our personal and transparent narratives are powerful. Truthful stories, clothed in the reality of our own struggles and God’s faithfulness communicate the hope we want our friends to know about.
Monday’s meeting hurt. I found out he was struggling with some personal things and he wasn’t sure what his future held. It hurt because I saw the man I once was, someone who didn’t need platitudes but was desperate to know that in the midst of brokenness and hopelessness, healing and restoration could be found through faith.
Monday I met with a friend who needed to hear my story.
Who needs to hear your story?