Micah Dodson spoke this week about the experience of being a telling failure.
Well, he actually spoke about the weavings in his journey to become a church planter, and the things he did and the choices he made that led to make him what he is today. It was amusing to listen to him talk about his experiences in trying to do the right things and seeing how they resulted in unwanted consequences. One example particularly meaningful to me was his conversation about choosing who could play with him in his band, and how his choices were overruled by another. We do things, sometimes, because we think it’s the right thing and we don’t think much will come of it, and then it turns into a fiasco and we are left stunned and wondering what just happened. Get the podcast and listen for yourself.
I thought about the story he was telling, and the ease of telling itself. Telling is part of the process of building relationships and even building churches. You can get quite caught up into the mechanics of your delivery, but really, what Micah was talking about was that you simply tell what happened that one long week and what it has done for you.
Maybe it’s that we’re human, but we can all tell our story. Not all of us can tell it with the same degree of passion or generate the same level of interest, but we can usually describe an event and what it meant to us.
The ease of telling, however, is contrasted with the difficulty of telling the truth. We can describe what we felt and thought. But it is hard to get to the core. We like to present ourselves in a favorable light, perhaps. Or we want to excuse what we did, the choices we made, or the results of our choices as being something we never intended.
It can be embarrassing to tell. And I think that after a while we invent a past that covers up that embarrassment. We build what is, to be honest, a false image where our mistakes are minimized or explained away, and the present is roses and sunshine, smooth sailing and light breezes. Because we want to make it sound as if what we hold to be true is worth holding, and the mistakes and failures and disastrous catastrophes along the way, we think, make it look like it might not be fun and it might require difficult choices and unpleasant experiences.
And then we wonder why our telling is not convincing to others.
I think it’s because others recognize the telling and the story as an invention, taken from some facts but stretched into a lesson. Trying to make it attractive lessens the value to others who aren’t asking for a happy ending but just maybe the truth of what happened and what it means.
And I think that’s the lesson Micah was trying to get to – that his “career” of doing what he’s doing (which largely comprises being Micah and being honest) is effective because he’s stripping away the imaginary parts of his story and he’s willing to talk about anything and everything, and what it means.
I’m not trying to put him on a pedestal and say “everyone should be like Micah,” because for one, everyone should be like themselves and what God wants them to be (I’ve yet to see God making clones when he makes babies; even identical twins aren’t), and also because Micah would likely say, “I’m the wrong model to pick, guys. Look a little further beyond.”
I’m just pointing out the significance of telling the truth. Not inventing a story with a happy ending. Stories are entertaining and even can contain lessons, but what people really want to hear is the truth, and as difficult as it can be, what we most need to say is the truth.
Don’t just tell. Tell the truth.