And I was reminded this week by Judah’s sermon that the greatest storyteller of our time is not Steve Jobs, not Martin Luther King, not any TED talker. It is Jesus Christ. And the story told in Luke 15 is a great example of the power of storytelling.
The story goes that the High Priests were bothered that Jesus was hanging out with the worst kinds of people; having lunch with drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, murderers, rapists, thieves. The priests demanded that Jesus explain why he was spending time with these worthless people.
Jesus does not respond with a logical explanation. Instead, he responds with three stories.
“A shepherd had a flock of 100 sheep and he counted them everyday. One day he counted only 99. So he left his flock in search of the lost sheep. And when he finally found it, he celebrated.”
“A woman had 10 silver coins. One day, she only counted nine. She tore her house apart, throwing couch cushions and emptying out dresser drawers in search of it. And when she finally found it, she celebrated.”
“A man had two sons. The youngest son said ‘father, give me my college money and all my inheritance.’ Then he moved to Amsterdam and spent all the money partying. One day, all the money was gone. The friends were gone too. The boy had no home, nothing to eat. He ended up working for a farmer, feeding the pigs.
Eventually, the boy decided to swallow his pride and return home, to beg for forgiveness. He knew he had disgraced his family, but perhaps his father would give him a job as a hired hand. When he returned home, his father saw him across the yard. He flung open the door and ran to his son, his robes flapping in the wind. He reached the boy and embraced him and the boy began sobbing and begging for forgiveness. But the father just ignored him, kissed his dirty face and ordered his hired hands to bring the boy a clean robe, sandals and to prepare a feast to celebrate his return.
The oldest son was naturally miffed. ‘You’ve never thrown a party for me. But my brother, who has blown all your money, who has disgraced us, gets a feast! Why would you do that?’
The father replied ‘Try to understand. You have always been with me and everything I have is yours. But your brother was dead, and he’s alive again. He was lost, and now is found.'”
So why does Jesus spend extra time talking to sinners? His answer can be found in these three stories. I will not interpret them for you. The power of storytelling is that you, the listener, arrives at the answer on your own.
About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.