My work has always been about telling stories. As a newspaper reporter fresh out of college, I gathered and wrote the stories of people and organizations in the Chicago suburbs: politicians, businesspeople, ordinary citizens who cared enough to get involved in their local schools, city councils or park boards. I learned the craft of interviewing, of finding the story behind the story. As I went on to write for magazines, and later websites, my strongest articles told stories–glimpses of real life, real struggles, real victories.
My books (I’ve written ten) were based on story, although they all began with questions. The questions that I wrestled with, it turned out, other people wrestled with. So I explored those questions and interviewed people and shared their stories alongside my own in my books. I write about spiritual formation, but I do it by telling stories of God at work in human lives.
In my work as a collaborative writer, I help other people tell their story. I offer my writing skills and experience to help them frame their story in a clear and compelling way.
About a year and a half ago, I decided to give my collaborative writing work a name and a framework. So I started A Powerful Story. The work we do is just a continuation of the story-telling and collaborative writing I’ve been doing for decades.
A Powerful Story (read more about our latest projects here) comes alongside businesses, non-profits, and individuals, to help them tell their story, through blog content, books, curriculum, even social media. We’re really excited about how this little company is growing and working with organizations all around the country: ministries, businesses, individuals.
At my desk one day, creating a blog post for a client, it hit me: about half of my clients are non-profit organizations who help the poor, the marginalized. I have always believed that my faith is meant to be more than intellectual assent to certain truth. It needs hands and feet. In Matthew 25, Jesus talks about the actions of people of faith: they’d not just talk about things, they’d do them. They’d not just believe, they’d get their hands dirty. Part of being formed into the image of Christ, which is what spiritual formation is all about, is acting as he would. That means caring about social justice, and being generous to the poor. (I wrote a lot about this in my book Simple Compassion.) Jesus said that we’d serve him when we serve others:
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
These are things I’ve tried to live out, but always felt like I wasn’t doing enough. I was pretty sure I was not called to be a full-time minister or run a non-profit organization. I was a writer. It’s what God gifted me at. Sure, we sponsor a child through World Vision, we’ve served meals at homeless shelters, we’ve supported inner city and international ministries financially.
But I knew my calling in life was to write. To tell stories. How could I feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, and pursue my calling at the same time?
The day I sat at my desk writing and it hit me: I’m telling stories of organizations that minister to prisoners, single moms, women in the developing world, inner city kids, and more. My background is business writing and that’s still a big part of what I do as well. But I’m thankful that God is letting me use my gift to tell stories that matter, that invite others to support those who are welcoming strangers, visiting prisoners, and lifting up the poor.
How about you? What is God calling you to? Where does your calling intersect with God’s kingdom?