THE GREATEST STORY – YOUR STORY

When I meet people I steer the conversation to discover / uncover their story
Who they are
Where they are from (physical – roots)
Where they have been (life experiences)
Where they are going (dreams and goals)
I want to understand what matters to them as a person – as a human being
I hear some neat stories

This past Tuesday – last flight coming back from Montreal / Retired nurse
When a person tells you their story there is always an emotional connecting point
The death of her dad – Mormon – and the funeral service many years ago
The emotional connecting point bridges the gap between them and you
Often opening the door to share the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14)
PAUSE
Everyone loves a good story
Movies – television series – books
Stories are how we relate to others
Stories are how we learn
Stories are how we remember
As someone who teaches and works to communicate the love of God to people on a daily basis – – – – I tell a lot of stories when ministering
People don’t care a lot about cold facts – statistics
They want excitement
They like drama
They care about pictures
They want to laugh
They want to see and feel what happened
Jesus, of course, told stories … parables … as He shared His life with others and ministered to people
So, let me ask you again: What’s your story?
I want you to think about your story so far?
What kind of story is it?
We all have a bit of humour in our stories – some drama
We all have some ups and downs – some wins and losses
There is a bit of comedy, tragedy, and history in all of us
But, overall, each of our lives tells a larger story – the Bible would call this a testimony
Revelation 12:11 “We overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony…”
Your salvation story … what He did so many years ago
Your “God” story … what He is currently doing in and through your life
Question: When it is all over, what do you want your life to say?
Deep down inside – I believe that we all want our life to say something of significance to others?
What is it you want to be remembered for?
We want our stories to be of significance
No one wants to feel like the world would not miss them if they had never lived
No one should live their life in such a way that when they die the world is no better off than before they were born
Neat story regarding Steve Jobs – founder of Apple Computers working to lure the CEO of PepsiCo… John Sculley… to come and work with him at Apple as it was just starting up
PepsiCo was one of the largest and most successful companies in the world at the time that this was happening
Steve Jobs had asked a number of times – they had discussed the possibility a number of times – and each time John Sculley had said no
Then one day Steve Jobs said to the CEO of Pepsi… “Do you want to see sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world? (significance)
He left Pepsi and joined the young Steve Jobs eventually taking his place as the main leader many years later…
Do you believe you can live a life of significance?
Never mind looking back on what has and has not happened so far
Don’t just look at your current situation – emotional, physical, relational
From today onwards – Do you believe you can live a life of significance?
That you can do things that really matter?
That you can impact your world – as big or as small as that impact may be?
Can you make your story great?
I believe that you have it within your power to make your life story one of tremendous significance …
I believe that you can make the needed changes – if there are any – to pursue a life that matters
That you can make a difference in your world
To live a life of significance – to be significant – all you have to do is make a difference with others wherever you are, with whatever you have
And do so every day – day by day – day after day as you live life
The secret to living a life that is making a difference and thus is significant is:
Living each day with intentionality
When you live each day with intentionality, there is almost no limit to what you can do
When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters
Let me tell you a story… Let’s give it a title: “It started with a small idea”
There was a young woman – Carrie Rich – she was in her 20’s…
She was working as a senior director for Inova Health System in Virginia, USA
One day she got an idea
She wanted to so something positive for others, and she thought that with a small amount of money she could get others to contribute to organizations that were already making a difference
So, she would be an unofficial fund raiser for existing good causes
She was excited about the idea, so she told her boss, Knox, who had been CEO of Inova for 30 years …
His response was, “That’s nice Carrie, but could you go back to work now?”
But then 2 months later for her birthday, he gave her a card
In it were two things – $100 and a quote from John Wesley
“Do all you the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”
Carrie says that Knox had taken some ‘lunch money’ – the money he would have spent on her birthday lunch – and given it to her to put to good use
So what would she do?
She decided that she would turn the $100 into $1,000 for each of six organizations $6,000)
In today’s world where Bill and Melinda Gates have given away over 28 billion, that amount probably sounds small
But that did not discourage Carrie
She wrote to organizations in Washington, D.C., Haiti, Tanzania, and elsewhere to ask what they would do with $1000
The Washington, DC area organization said it could improve literacy rates for a class of students
The Haitian organization said it could sustain ten families by using community agriculture
The Tanzanian organization could send 25 women through secondary school
These stories ignited Carrie’s passion
She was ready to act – do something she hoped would be significant – But how?
How could she turn $100 into $6,000?
She decided to do something that she had never done before
She wrote individual e-mail requests to family and friends – ultimately to every name that came up from her contact list as she typed alphabetically in the “To” field
She even decided to write to the names that popped up that she didn’t recognize or know personally
As she came to the “Subject” field on the email, she wondered what to write
When she could come up with nothing better, she wrote, “The Global Good Fund”
It was not long before money started coming in: $20, $50, $1,000
“It was extraordinarily generous,” says Carrie, “particularly from my peers who were just starting in the workplace. It resonated with them.”
Within two weeks, Carrie had received $6,052.
She felt good
She had started small, but she had accomplished her goal
She was ready to give the money to the six organizations
All done! She thought … Little could she guess what would happen next
As the donations were coming in, she had also received an e-mail from someone she had met for five minutes at a conference a year earlier
They had exchanged cards that day, and Carrie had sent him a “nice to meet you” e-mail afterwards
That is why his name had been in her contacts
The return e-mail from the man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “I’d like to donate a million dollars to the Global Good Fund. Where should I send the cheque?”
Carrie’s reaction: “This guy is pranking me. I’m not giving him my home address!”
She e-mailed him back saying that if he was serious, he was to meet her on a particular day at a specific time in a specific place – a very public place with security cameras
And, she would wait only ten minutes.
When he arrived, he handed her a bank-certified cheque for $1 million, made out to “The Global Good Fund,” an organization that did not exist.
And his question for Carrie was the same one she had asked the six original organizations she had decided to help: “What will you do with this money?”
Carried had not prepared for such a question because, honestly, she didn’t think the guy would show up
She just couldn’t fathom someone she had met for five minutes giving her a million dollars
She quickly thought about what had made a difference in her life, and she told him she would invest in young leaders around the world who were using entrepreneurship for social impact
As others had invested in her, she would help these young leaders to grow personally so that they could be a gift to society
He handed her the cheque
Not knowing what to do, Carrie went back to her office and asked to see her boss, Knox.
His assistant, Carol, could see that Carrie was sweating and hyperventilating, so
she escorted her right in
“Look what you have done,” she said, slamming the million dollar cheque down on his desk
“You gave me the lunch money, and this stranger gave me a million dollars for an organization that doesn’t even exist! I have no idea what to do with the money. Would you please help me?”
“I’ll help you under two conditions,” said Knox.
“First, while you may report to me at work, I’d like to report to you at the Global Good Fund. Second, “I’m going to match the initial gift.”
Carrie says, “You know that expression, ‘You fell out of your chair’? I literally fell. Carol came in and she helped me back up. And that’s how it started.”
The was in 2011.
A year later, Carrie stopped working for Inova and became the CEO of the Global Good Fund, which she created as a non-profit organization
She has begun a fellowship program and is already investing in 19 young leaders in countries around the world
AND, she continues to see opportunities to make a difference
She has a life that is significant
How big will the Global Good Fund become?
How great an impact will it make?
No one knows.
Carrie is still young
But she is making a difference now
She is helping people and making the world a better place for her having been in it
And, that is what matters – not how big or how powerful it becomes. It is what she is doing now that makes her life significant
The secret to living a life that is making a difference and thus is significant is:
Living each day with intentionality
When you live each day with intentionality, there is almost no limit to what you can do
When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters
If your story is not as meaningful or significant or compelling as you want it to be
You can change it.
You can begin writing a new story, beginning today
Don’t settle for just listening to stories of people who have or are making a significant difference in the lives of others
Decide to be the story of significance
Become the central character in your story of making a difference
HOW TO START….
You need a change in mindset from passive to active
Life does happen to you – you determine the direction and depth
You need to understand that you will need to approach your life differently
1> Put yourself in the story
You don’t stumble upon significance
You don’t passively float into living your life in a way that makes a difference
We have to be intentional about making our lives matter
Hebrews 12:1 tells us to “run the race set before us…”
That race is your life … and you can choose to “run” or you can simply let it happen to you
That calls for action – and not excuses
It is easier to go from failure to success than from excuses to success
Successful people who made a significant difference for others
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Helen Keller
Winston Churchill
Albert Schweitzer
Gandhi
Albert Einstein
Sigmund Freud … there is a list of 300 … all of whom had excuses
3/4 of them as children were troubled by poverty, a broken home, dysfunctional parents who rejected or control them
74 of the 85 top writers of fiction or drama / 16 of the 20 top poets came from homes where children saw psychological drama played out by their parents
Over one quarter of the same suffered physical handicaps such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs
So, put yourself in the story – start a new race – even if it means being in over your head and that you might fail
“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”
T.S. Eliot
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently….Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs – Founder of Apple Computers
To have a life that matters – you have to start
Start with yourself / me – me – me
Your best story begins when you put yourself back into it and are no longer passive – letting life happen to you
Stop looking – Start living
God said to me just about two years ago:
Experiment – Experience – Explore
2> Put significance in your story
Let me tel you another true story … “Geeky Evangelism”
The graveyard shift was the perfect name for it. The middle of the night in the back IT office of the company Jack Costner worked for was usually as lifeless as they come at that hour
Dark, still, quiet, and boring
And this night was no different.
Nothing was moving in that dimly lit, silent room, not even the computer screen that Jack was watching to see if anyone would hack the network he had just installed.
Hours had gone by and he was still just watching and waiting and seeing nothing, knowing all the while that he probably never would.
The quiet office was the perfect environment for anyone who has a lot of pain in their lives to be forced to deal with it. Voices have a way of speaking out when there is nothing to fill the void.
So Jack thought of his crystal meth addiction that had got him kicked out of the navy and led to his dad disowning him.
He thought about his life and future, and nothing looked particularly exciting.
His mind then drifted to the previous Sunday when he had taken his girlfriend to church because she had asked him to, and he started to recall the movie clips from The Passion of the Christ that the pastor had shown
Surprisingly, the images began to hit him harder in the dead silence of that IT office than they did when he was sitting in the church
He didn’t believe in Jesus – at least, he didn’t think he did. But, for a brief moment, the man on the cross in the movie has looked like he just might be an answer, possibly the answer to Jack’s life
And so – with the stillness of the room feeling like an opportunity – he walked over th=o the lone lamp, switched it off and in the darkness got on his knees.
“God, if you’re there,” he said, “I really want to know. If you can reveal yourself to me, I will give you my life. I want to give you my life.”
Jack waited for a thunderclap of some sort. It never came.
When he got off his knees and turned the lamp back on, he rubbed his hands over his body and face to see if he felt different. He didn’t.
At least nothing weird happened, he thought.
He walked the sterile, fluorescent-lit hallway to the vending machine to feed his unrelenting smoking habit.
As he stood looking at the cigarettes, a voice suddenly spoke within his spirit. “You’re not going to be needing those anymore,” it said.
Jack stopped: the whole world seemed to stop. The only inner cues he had ever experienced with respect to his vices were promptings to do it, to indulge, to push ahead.
This time, however, was a prompting not just to stop, but one that declared him free
He turned around and returned to his office with the cigarettes and with a strange sense that he would not be walking that hallway again.
When his shift was up, he walked into the morning light and like an ex-smoker gets back his taste buds, it was as if his senses were turned back on.
The day looked brighter than he had ever noticed before; the sky looked a new shade of blue; the signing birds were particularly loud and beautiful.
What’s this? He thought.
Strangest of all, it had been four hours since the incident at the vending machine and he still had no craving for a cigarette
He never would again!
It was the clear and sudden death of his crushing addiction that shook him the most. He knew that everything was now different.
God, just like he asked him to, had revealed himself.
Jack aggressively went into discovery mode. He wanted to learn everything he could about this God, and the more he found out, the more he fell in love with Jesus. Jack’s heart sang like the songbirds.
Soon after, Chris, hs=is coworker from another department, asked if Jack might go to his house and help him with his slow-going computer. Jack agreed.
On the drive over, Jack’s eyes suddenly widened when he received another prompting.
“I want you to tell Chris about me,” the voice said in his spirit. Jack recognized it as the same voice that spoke to him at the vending machine.
“I’m not going to do thar,” he spoke aloud in his car. “That would just make things really weird.”
He drove the rest of the way just hoping the voice, or God wouldn’t press the issue.
When Jack arrived and took apart Chris’ computer, he saw that a virus scan was in order. It would take an hour to complete. As Chris pulled up a chair and sat down beside him to wait and watch the screen, Jack gulped. What was he going to do now?
“What are you going to tell him?” The inner voice said. Jack closed his eyes and prayed. “I’ll open my mouth, but whatever comes out you own, OK Lord?”
When he got home, he was flying high. The conversation had gone smoothly and he loved how it felt to be used by God – to speak about him boldly. Better yet was what Chris said to him.
“Thanks for what you did today, Jack.”
“No problem. I hope it woks for you,” Jack replied.
“I meant telling me about Jesus.”
Since then Jack and his wife (he married his live-in girlfriend) have formed The Jesus Geeks Ministry” which now functions across the United States and in many nations of the world. They fix computers and talk about Jesus. They supply revamped computers to third world countries for use in schools. And, in each place that they minister they talk about Jesus.
Back to you…
To put significance in our story, we must do things outside of our comfort zone
To put significance in our story, we must make changes that we may find difficult
To put significance in our story, we must also take action
Being passive may feel safe – After all, if you do nothing, nothing can go wrong
To put significance in our story, we need to stop waiting, hoping, and wishing – start acting
To put significance in our story, we cannot allow our fears and questions to keep us from starting
A truth:
You won’t do well the first time you do anything
Novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draft is always crap.” (Only he didn’t say crap)
And he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature
If you want to live a life that matters, don’t start when you get good; start now so you become good at whatever you are doing to make a difference
3> Put your strength in your story
If you want your life to count and to do something significant that will change and benefit others… ask yourself three questions:
A> Can you be the best in the world at what you do? (talent)
B> Are you passionate about what you are doing – planning to do? (heart)
C> Do you have the resources to change your world? (tools – skills)
Play from your strengths and thus put your strengths into your story
4> Stop trying and start doing
“I’ll try my best”
We all have said it
What it is saying is: “I’ll work at having the right attitude and I’ll work at the task, but I won’t take responsibility for the outcome.”
Can you move forward from where you are by just trying – absolutely not!
Trying rarely achieves anything significant!
Need to move beyond the attitude of ‘trying’ and pick up the attitude of “doing”
When we tell ourselves “I will do this…” we release tremendous power to move forward and do it
An attitude of “doing” leads us to making a real commitment to actually doing it
‘Doing’ leads to living life intentionally and doing something with your life that is significant
REVIEW: HOW TO START…. Making this move from ‘good intentions’ to ‘intentional living’
You need a change in mindset from passive to active
Life does happen to you – you determine the direction and depth
You need to understand that you will need to approach your life differently
1> Put yourself in the story
2> Put significance in your story
3> Put your strength in your story
4> Stop trying and start doing
Listen: You don’t finish the ‘race set before you’ by accident…
Hebrews 12:1-3 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
The Message Version: “Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”
Now, most people don’t run the race and let life just happen – “The Greatest Story Never Told”
You and I – the Greatest Story – Your Story…