4 Ways Sharing Your Story Can Deepen Your Leadership

Carl Dodd
October 14th, 2020

Stories bring flavor. Stories paint a picture. Stories give depth. I am a stories person, and so I take notice of how storytelling is interwoven into our DNA.

What I mean by that is simple and not surprising to anyone.  Take a look at how sharing stories appear in our social platforms, in our entertainment, in our family gatherings, when we check-in with friends, when we get back from an event or vacation, when we take a thousand photographs and when any kid is left waiting around at church, rolling their eyes, waiting for their parent to finish telling a story when so many other people already got to leave! Our bible traditions have storytelling at their core.

So yes, I’m a story guy.

I have had the privilege to sit across from people who, like me, have found themselves living “that ministry life”  and all that comes with it. I have heard stories of their big wins and challenges of the deep lows. In times of listening, those stories have so much meaning and weight written in-between the lines.

These stories can reveal hopes, plans, challenges, and the most immediate of struggles. These stories can allow the teller to decompress, to develop clarity, and  be heard in a way they can’t in their home church.

Here are four ways the opportunity sharing your ministry story can bring deep leadership transformation:

Talking about your story gives your experiences a voice.

Sometimes church ministry can be a tight rope. Sometimes we feel compelled to downplay or hide the amount of pressure we’re under; or worse, you may feel that it will be seen as a sign of weakness rather than an opportunity for development.

It may be that for so long you have tried to have your voice heard, but your story bounces off the walls and makes no impact on those that should be hearing it. As you take the opportunity, you get a time to give your story a voice with someone outside of your situation. You not only have someone hearing your story, but the listener will reflect back the story they hear you telling.

Talking about your story reveals unspoken values, hidden challenges and forgotten ministry passions.

So often, when we are in the everyday of ministry, the here and now has the potential of overwhelming our philosophy of ministry and our reasons for getting into ministry in the first place.

By sharing your stories with someone, you will draw out  things that have become hidden. Hopefully the listener will reflect what they are hearing you say.  

As a result, you will  begin to hear yourself say things like, “Hey, I’d forgotten that”, or “Wow, I can’t believe I just said that. That’s not me at all!”  Creating this space with a coach allows both you and him/her to go deeper and, after drawing out these realizations, think about how you should then move forward for both your personal development and the development of your ministry.

Talking about your story allows you to answer your own questions.

As you hear yourself talking and telling your story, you sometimes recognize that you start to answer your own questions.

If you don’t hear yourself answering those questions, a good listener can help identify when this is happening! Having an external voice can also highlight when your solutions are not in line with your current actions, and simply help you ask the question, “So, what needs to change?”

Talking about your story reveals the next pages that are being written.

This is my favorite part: Once you have identified your story and understand the questions you’re asking, your coach will help you think practically about the next steps you can take to make that vision a reality. This is really useful if you’ve developed the ministry version of writer’s block!

I encourage you to tell your story. The story of you, your relationship with God, your family, your ministry, your passions and your hopes.

Take the time to sit down with someone who’s been through the ups and downs of ministry and share stories.

These stories will give depth, understanding, and energy to all that we will do when we move forward.

Carl Dodd

Carl Dodd has been ministering to children, youth and their families for 20 years. He has served in local, regional and national projects. He is currently Head of School at Eastside Academy in Seattle, a Christian High School working with at-risk students through counseling and recovery support. Carl also leads Youth Crisis First Responders (www.youthcrisis.org), equipping churches and ministries to respond to students experiencing times of crisis. Carl is married to Rachel and enjoys the outdoor life with their two girls in the lakes and forests of Washington.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.