By Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan
If you read my last article, you know it was about a small problem I have with tardiness. I wrote the article, sent it in for publication, then struggled for a while. Should I have done that article? Does it make me look bad? Will people think less of me? But planning and packing for a vacation took over and I decided I would not try to rewrite or write something different. Now, it’s out there. It has given me the opportunity to reflect on telling stories and being vulnerable as a teacher.
To share a story about your weakness can have the effect of taking you off of whatever pedestal people, or your role, or your degrees, have put you on. “Hey, that guy is like me. I can relate.”
It can be endearing to share a story in a humorous way that makes your misfortunes an illustration of what not to do. “I feel for that guy. I like that he told us about that.” So, being vulnerable can be an effective way of building trust and rapport.
However, being vulnerable can also have its downsides. “I don’t believe I would have told that.”
Here are a half-dozen guidelines:
- Everyone has dirty laundry. It literally happens every single day. Everyone has spills, splashes, and sweat. We all have problems, issues, faults, sins – nothing new under the sun.
- It’s your story to tell. If you are going to confess that you have dirty laundry that has not yet migrated to a hamper, talk about your laundry – not that of your spouse, your child, or your best friend. Have fun at your own expense.
- Ask permission. If your friend’s dirty laundry story is just too good not to tell because it fits perfectly with the point you want to make, ask permission to tell it before you tell it.
- Be the hero, sometimes. Was there a stain in your life that you were not certain you would be able to remove? We’ve been there. Then, with persistence and the right cleanser, were you able to make it disappear? How did you do that? Really, we want to know.
- But not the hero of every story. It is interesting the first time you share a heroic story about removing a stain. But if you are able to remove every stain, we are going to get bored with your cleansing capability or begin doubting that you are truly human.
- Some stains survive – no matter what you do. The question is, what do you do with them? What can you do about that stain that makes a better person out of you? “I’ve got this unresolvable problem and I am letting it make a better person of me.” That is a story worth hearing.
These thoughts are from Rev. Dr. Rick Jordan, our partner based out of Lewisville, North Carolina. He is a 20+-year member of Ardmore Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC where he leads an adult Bible study, serves as a deacon, as Personnel Council chairperson, and on the Vision Navigation Team. He has also served in various roles from local churches to state and national leadership. Contact him for more information on how our partner can help you.