In the wonderful book A Spirituality of Imperfection, authors Kurtz and Ketcham illustrate the power of story in our spiritual journey. In a portion of the book I found particularly memorable, they tell of a man who had assumed a “holy” lifestyle out of fear that he would be persecuted if he stayed true to his own unpopular thinking.
Everything changes when a story-telling stranger comes to town, and unbeknown to either of them, begins to relate precisely the story of his life. After hearing it, the Bishop (this is the identity he had assumed) breaks into tears, rips off his vestments and confesses the truth of his life. In the process he believes he has saved his soul.
The authors end with these words: When you hear someone tell your own story, you are forgiven, and if you are forgiven, you are healed.
Everyone who has sat under the spell of inspired preaching knows the experience of feeling singled out from a sanctuary of hundreds or thousands, hearing someone tell their own story…and finding healing in the process.
At our best, Organizational Intelligence (OI) interpreters enable members to hear their own story as the Body of Christ. When you can turn to the pastor of a clergy-focused system and say “You are likely experiencing considerable pressure in this system even when things are going well” you are telling his or her story in a way that no one else ever could.
When you can turn to the stewardship chair in a church where giving is already 4% of income and say, “You must be finding it puzzling that no matter how effective your campaign, giving does not go up much,” you are telling their story in a way that lifts the millstone of failure from his or her shoulders.
When you can say to a highly settled congregation, “It must be both frustrating and puzzling that it seems like you just get past one conflict only to have another erupt in its place,” you tell their story in a way that provides insight and offers hope.
Sometimes, congregations that experience OI brought to them in a way that they hear their own story is enough to spark a healing shift all by itself.
Our task as OI interpreters is not simply to present data. It is to tell a congregation’s story, which, when mingled with grace, makes them feel visible. When someone sees us and stays with us, they also save us. “God with us’, in all its expressions is the hope on which the universe is hinged.
Holy Cow! Consulting