By Micah Groves
Want to REALLY get to know someone? Listen to their stories.
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Cooperating Baptist Fellowship of Oklahoma’s 2018 Spring Retreat, where the theme of the event was “Telling Stories that Matter.” Those of us in attendance had the pleasure of being led in two days of discussion with Pam Durso, Ph.D., executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry. The weekend included meaningful, thought provoking conversation and interaction for which I am extremely grateful.
I am privileged to serve on the CBF OK Coordinating Council, so I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several of the attendees prior to the retreat. If I took one thing away from the event, it was that I need to do a MUCH better job of taking the time to really get to know the individuals with whom I serve.
So much of our interaction with people on a day to day basis is surface-level and superficial. Even when we commit to serving or working with others, we oftentimes share the minimum requirements. We tend to be satisfied with the basics of name, age, hometown, occupation, and number of children. We obtain this information and THINK we have a fairly good idea of who people are. Thanks to Dr. Durso and this retreat, I’ve been reminded of how much I’ve been potentially missing out on.
It really should come as no surprise that one of the most effective ways of getting to know someone is by sharing stories. Most of us have heard stories our entire lives. We grow up hearing stories from our parents, grandparents, and other family members that serve to develop our entire sense of family identity. If we consider ourselves people of faith, specifically Christian, we must acknowledge that a major component to the formation of that faith is a book made up of ancient narratives. Jesus himself utilizes stories to impart some of his most important and impactful truths.
During one of the retreat activities, Dr. Durso invited participants to fashion shapes out of two strips of pipe cleaner. The first shape was to represent something from our initial faith formation story. And the second shape was to represent a time when our faith was affected later in life. Once we completed this, we broke into groups of four or five and shared our stories with each other.
I learned things about people I THOUGHT I somewhat knew. And I realized that I had things in common with others that I would have never dreamed. Throughout the room, I witnessed new connections being formed between “old” friends, as well as foundations being laid for new relationships that will endure for years. All of this from sharing simple stories about our lives and our faith journeys.
Stories matter. My story matters. Your story matters. They reveal who we are and what we care about. They help us to understand and respect the experiences of others. And sometimes they even remind us of something about ourselves that we may have long forgotten.
So I encourage you to take the time. Take the time to listen to someone’s story. Take the time to share your own story. Something amazing might come of it!
– Micah Groves is a CBF Leadership Scholar and is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity from Central Baptist Theological Seminary. He received his Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from East Central University and currently serves as an Officer on the CBF Oklahoma Coordinating Council.