I normally don’t share personal stories here but this one has been stirring in me and I feel nudged to share.
My wife had invited me to her after work event, hosted by someone connected to her vocation in the banking field. I normally don’t go to these, but one of the presenters was going to lead a conversation on using technology. As a youth ministry person, I was deeply interested in this topic being shared from a worldly view.
The event was called Soul Front.
We arrived and I could tell I was out of my element. Although my background is business, these people were dressed in finely trimmed suits, crisp creases, and hats I had never seen before. I came in my best jeans and a matching sweater (which my wife picked out for me). I think bankers have a lingo I don’t completely understand and I felt a little like a person attending church for the first time—not really aware of where to stand, what to say, and looking for the nearest exit.
I think bankers have a lingo I don’t completely understand and I felt a little like a person attending church for the first time—not really aware of where to stand, what to say, and looking for the nearest exit.
But alas, I came for my wife and the topic. I would persevere. And then we would leave.
The host gathered us to the rising cascade of seats, which I would guess were designed for contemporary art and certainly not for sitting. He shared the backstory of the topic for that evening and introduced the two speakers.
Let me be clear, it was not about technology.
The two speakers shared one or two significant moments from their life story that have somehow defined or moved them. The stories were stirring and inspiring business/humanity celebrations.
The audience was then split into six groups of 6-7 people. We were then asked to share our own similar stories.
My wife and I couldn't leave anymore. We were separated.
Set in our groups, I kept my eyes away from the facilitator’s eyes because I did not want to be there. I certainly had no stories like theirs. All these finely suited, hat wearing, really-expensive-shoes people sat in my group and began to share. One by one they shared and then the dreaded moment came. The facilitator asked, “Ron, can you share?”
And there it was. I hesitated at first and was going to say no, but I began sharing that my story was different from theirs because I don’t live in their world of business. I shared that in fact I had left the business world to follow God’s call to ministry. It wasn't about the making more money but recognizing that I was made for something more. And in that, by faith, our family made the choices to follow God’s leading.
What happened next was completely unexpected. Virtually everyone in the group wanted to hear more. How? Why? Where? Other faith stories emerged from the group and this is what they wanted to talk about. It was amazing!
You know, these weren't just finely suited, hat wearing, really-expensive-shoes people anymore. These were people who wanted to talk about God and His good work in the world! As we were wrapping up, one young millennial made a final comment, one I cannot get out of my head. She said this; "That was the best thing I heard today."
As we were wrapping up, one young millennial made a final comment, one I cannot get out of my head. She said this; "That was the best thing I heard today."
I didn't want to be there and yet God used my uneasy moments in surprising ways.
As Christians, we have the best story in history. So here is what I learned and here is my challenge for you.
- Sometimes God places opportunities in our days. How do we respond in those moments?
- Those who live with us. Do they know your faith story?
- Each one of us has one. Are you able to articulate your own faith story?
Start with framing your own faith story with someone you trust to help you. It takes practice and it takes lots of prayer. At Faith Formation ministries, you can find a toolkit to help in this area (see below).
And the Apostle Paul’s prayer found in Ephesians 3 can be our foundation for us, to lead us in confidence when we are found in those life moments.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”