Nothing has the power to move and inspire a person more than a compelling story. We all know people who are able to tell a story that touches, moves, and changes us. It's easy to forget facts and figures, dates and times, but when you aredrawn into a person's story, it becomes a part of you.”
Nothing has the power to move and inspire a person more than a compelling story. We all know people who are able to tell a story that touches, moves, and changes us. It's easy to forget facts and figures, dates and times, but when you are drawn into aperson's story, it becomes a part of you. Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Jesus was a master at conveying deeply profound principles in parables that continue to touch us today. How many of us have felt the naïve foolishness of the prodigal son, the joy of his father upon his return, and the resentment of the older, faithful brother toward his wayward sibling. The underlying messages are profound and would be lost if conveyed in a different manner.
It was the power of General Eisenhower's order to the troops in June 1944 prior to the heroic invasion at Normandy, calling their mission the Great Crusade against Nazi Germany to bring about the destruction of the German War Machine. Facing almost insurmountable odds, the allied forces were able to drive back the Nazis, which became a turning point in the war. They were inspired by General Eisenhower's Metaphor, a parable in itself.
Who can't be drawn into the story of redemption as Rocky runs the streets of Philadelphia, children getting caught up in the excitement and joining him as he reaches the top of the Art Museum steps. It was no accident that the first scene of the movie is a picture of Jesus Christ overlooking the gym where Rocky trained. A good story draws the listeners into it.
I experienced the power of a story when I read a book called The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. Each chapter highlighted a different leadership principle and included stories of real people and how they applied the principle. I was blown away. It made an immediate impact on my leadership abilities in my own company, because I could personally relate to them and see how I could apply them. I can honestly say that it transformed my business and me and showed me that God gives each of us a story that can be used to impact others.
My story started simply enough. I served in the Marines right out of high school and served my four–year term to return to the civilian life, not knowing what I would pursue as a career. I had no formal business or technical schooling, but I knew how to work hard and had a knack for spotting opportunities.
I didn’t have much then, but I did have a pickup truck and a chain saw, all I needed to start a tree trimming business! As one job led to another, I started receiving requests to plant new trees and help people layout landscaping for their houses and businesses. I went from being a tree trimming company to a landscaping company. I started adding employees, and the company grew as more and more jobs came in. God began to reveal a vision to me that my business would have an impact on countless lives.
My little landscape business grew to become one of the largest in the nation. We had over 350 employees and 5 locations in Florida. We did it all: from design, construction and irrigation to pest control, environmental services and maintenance. Even as we grew into a multimillion–dollar company, we ran the business on biblical, God–honoring principles. It didn’t always make financial sense according to the world’s standards, but God was always faithful and blessed us in His perfect timing.
A funny thing happens when you run a company that large and are able to weather the economic storms: people begin to ask how you did it. I began to counsel other business owners and began to speak at leadership events, telling my story to eager listeners who wanted to know how to transform their businesses. I also began to write some short articles on leadership and was amazed at the positive feedback I received. Books and TED Talks by Harvard and Stanford MBAs may apply to some business leaders, but the leaders that I’ve encountered need wisdom to address real issues that they face with their clients, employees, families, and faith. The articles I wrote seemed to strike a chord with them.
I was studying the book of Ephesians and was drawn to Ephesians 2:10; “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God created us to do good works. As I thought about how my story was helping other business owners grow their businesses while honoring God, I thought there must be many other stories that could have similar impacts on people.
I had developed a good friendship with the owner of the marketing company that handled all of my company’s communications and branding, Richard W. Hayes. His business is as good of an example of a God–honoring business as they come. After praying about it and wanting wise, biblical counsel, I wanted to vet my thoughts with him. We discussed my idea of starting a magazine that would inspire and equip other business owners and leaders to use the gifts and talents that God has given them to make an eternal impact for God’s kingdom. My confirmation was clear when he said, without hesitation, “I’m in!”
We outlined our vision for the magazine and agreed that the target audience would be people who owned or managed businesses. There were already a wealth of resources for church and non–profit organizations, and we wanted to produce a useful tool for business leaders. We felt strongly that we needed to keep our focus narrow to maximize our efforts and to hold true to what God had laid on our hearts.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou
As I read through the scriptures while developing the strategy for getting the magazine off the ground, I ran across instance after instance of how lives were touched through the stories of others. In the book of Mark, Chapter 5, Jesus encounters a man who is possessed by demons and lived among the tombs. He had been bound with shackles and chains but none could hold him and no one could tame him. Jesus commanded the demons to leave the man and allowed them to enter a heard of swine, leaving the man free from their torment and in his right mind. He begged Jesus to let him follow Him, but Jesus wouldn’t allow him to. He said, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He has had compassion on you.” The man told his story throughout all of the region, and everyone he told marveled. Jesus knew the powerful impact His story would have on the people who knew Him.
We’re entering our third year of producing TwoTen Magazine, each issue featuring the stories of amazing individuals using their businesses for God’s glory. The amazing part about it is that each story is powerful in its own way, and God uses it to touch people at the right place and time.
The response we’ve received from readers has been overwhelming and humbling. We’ve featured business leaders of Fortune 500 Companies, professional athletes, and celebrities that are using the platform that God has given them to make an impact for the Lord. The most feedback comes from stories about average, everyday people who are just conducting their businesses in a Godly manner, sometimes in the face of great personal tragedy. Their stories matter, because we can relate to them. When a reader ponders a story they’ve just read, the story incubates in their head until certain situations arise that will trigger his or her memory and will give them a frame of reference on how to respond.
As I began to read the various articles and advertisements of other businesses, I came to realize that Two Ten is something special, not just another magazine. I just finished reading the Dina Dwyer Edition cover–to–cover ear–marking page after page of information for my business and life. Wow! What a great, inspiring, insightful publication. Thank you for putting together such a great product."
But I wanted the magazine to be more than just a passive activity for the readers. I want the readers to compile their own stories to pass on. If you’re a business leader, you have a story that can inspire others, even if you don’t know it. If we, as a collective group of people, desire to move the Kingdom forward, the most powerful resource at our disposal is the stories of our people. Too often, we draw back to the stories in the Bible as if God’s work ended there. Jesus told us in John 14:12, "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in Me will do the same works that I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to the Father."
The great thing about market–place ministry is that, unlike a church, you have the opportunity to show people that the love of Christ extends beyond the walls of the church. Like author and speaker Tony Kriz said, we want to "present a fresh presentation of God” to our readers who can then present a fresh presentation to their spheres of influence.
I challenge you to nurture your story, hone it, and refine it. Make your story one that will stand the test of time. Can our stories or elements of our stories, if told properly, positively affect the outcome of somebody else’s story? Absolutely. God made that risk when he placed the start of the whole Christian church into the hands of a small group of average men and women. Their mission was to tell the stories that God had given them.