I’ve been thinking a lot about storytelling lately. I think as a Pastor, I need to be a good storyteller. It makes sermons better, it makes conversations better, and it models the way Jesus taught. As I’ve been thinking about storytelling, a thought keeps coming back to me. What’s my story?
There are a lot of different answers to that question. The one I’m most drawn to is not my life history, or even my testimony. Recently I’ve been trying to reframe my story as something entirely different… not my story at all in fact. And I think it’s making me a better husband, friend, and person all around. Typically the most important character in any story is the protagonist (the good guy, hero, and commonly the main character). For 27 years I’ve been viewing my story as if I were the protagonist. Everything centers around me. All of my interactions with people are viewed based on how they affect me and how they make me feel. My decisions are based on what’s good for me, and what’s comfortable for me. Everyone else is just a character that pops in and out of the story of Lanier.
That may sound super egotistical, but I challenge you to look at how you view your story. My guess is that you view it the same way. You’re the hero. You’re the one the whole story centers around. You’re the guy that hits the game winning home run before the credits roll. You’re the girl who gets her dream job and moves to New York City in the final act. We all want to be the Jennifer Lawrence and Ryan Gosling in our stories. Why wouldn’t we?
Here’s the change that has come for me recently… what if there’s a bigger story going on, and I’m not the main character? What if the primary story I was telling and living was not one of Lanier, but one of Jesus and the Kingdom of God? What if I didn’t go into every situation trying to advance the storyline in a way that favors me? I’ve been viewing myself as a supporting character lately, and I love it. No longer does it feel like I’m the one who has to move the plot along or that everyone is watching every step I take and hanging on every word I say (Again, sounds egotistical right? But my guess is this is how you’re viewing your story as well). My role is now to do whatever I can to support the protagonist. I’m playing more of a Steve Buscemi or Judy Greer role (You know, those people that are in every movie but have never been the star).
What if there’s a bigger story going on, and I’m not the main character?
This is why I love playing that role… My marriage is no longer the story of Lanier trying to get what he wants out of it. My marriage is about Jesus getting what He wants. My friendships aren’t about me getting the attention or being the funniest guy in the room, they are about Jesus getting the attention and praise. Work is no longer the story of me doing everything on my own and showing everyone how dedicated and productive I am. It’s about working in a way that honors Jesus.
This is all new for me. I’m still figuring out what it means. I still catch myself trying to be the main character a lot. But I’m working on telling Jesus’ story instead of mine, and I think you should give it a try too.