Do you have those occasions when you know you are in over your head? I’ve been a youth worker since 1973, and for 4 of those years I was a youth pastor. In the church I worked we had a licensed therapist on staff that I could pass off the individuals who I knew I couldn’t help. But sometimes I only knew I was in to deep after it was too late. That was the case with Ron, a senior high student and his dad Phil, a 45-year-old alcoholic and former lineman in the NFL.

My dad was an alcoholic. I know what it was like to be a kid in high school who had a secret at home. Phil, like my dad, could become violent. I felt comfortable working with both of them. I began meeting with Phil. We could never sit at a booth at the restaurant where we met. Phil was just too big! I mean big. And we hit it off. But Phil continued his violence and drinking to the point that I was frustrated.

One night after having met with him for lunch he called me just after 10 PM. He was drunk. Ann and I were reading in the bed and the kids had been asleep for an hour. Phil was ranting in a rage and frustrated I said, “Listen man, your drunk and don’t call me back until you have sobered up and done the things we talked about at lunch.” Phil threatened my life, called me a name and hung up. Ann asked who it was and I kept the name out of it and just said it was a drunken guy who I had been trying to help and we flipped the lights off.

About five minutes later I heard the thud of a car door in my driveway. I went to the bedroom window to see Phil staggering toward the front door carrying something in his hand like a long stick. I woke Ann, told her to get the kids up and in a closet and asked her to call 911.

Our bedroom was upstairs so I walked down to the front door. I had just purchased a baseball bat for my son Ben, and it was leaning up against the wall in the hall so I picked it up as Phil started cursing and knocking on the door. I shouted through the closed door for him to back away and that I had called the police. Phil put his whole body weight against the door and on the third hit fell into the foyer with the door. There was a bright street light blasting through a window behind me, so I was just a dark silhouette to Phil.

Phil stumbled to his feed, started cursing me then reared back with a tire tool and swung it at m head. It’s never a fair fight between sober people and drunk people. I was just faster so Phil missed with his first swings. I kept warning him, but realized that with the sirens off in the distance I was going to have to use the ball bat. It was crazy; I could hear the muffled sounds of my kids crying up stairs, a siren screaming in the distance and this man shaped like my side-by-side refrigerator cursing me.

I brought the full weight of my 175 pounds and that ball bat across Phil’s chest. It was like hitting concrete. He stumbled but was not deeply phased. He swung at me again, I dodged the blow, and this time came at his head with the bat. It was dark but I could see he was dripping blood. The sirens were close enough that I headed up the stairs hoping the police would arrive to handcuff Phil, now lying on his stomach in my foyer. I don’t know how he managed, but half way up the stairs I felt a giant hand grab my right ankle. He started pulling me back down the steps. I grabbed the wooden spindles of the hand hail and broke each one I grabbed. “Oh God please let the police get here!”

I want to stop the story here for a moment. First I want to confess, what you just read was a lie. It never happened. There was no Phil who played for the NFL or Ron his son. It is true that I was a youth pastor and I did work some wild cases, but this one never happened.

So why did I do this to you? I wanted to illustrate the power of a story. Stories move people. Even though it was not the truth, my heart was pounding fast just imagining what I just wrote.

I often tell this story before telling the truth of my story to illustrate what Jesus told us about the truth, He said, “you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” It is true that I grew up with an alcoholic father. He was the kindest man in the world sober, but a terror when he was drunk. He was a WWII hero, a golden gloves boxer, a POW, tortured in that POW camp, and had his left arm shot off 4 days after DDay. No wonder he drank.

I came to Christ when Barry Stephens showed me a little booklet called “Steps to Peace With God.” For me it was an effective visual tool that helped me see the picture of what Christ had done for me. At Mission Discovery we ask leaders and their groups to lay aside tracks like the one Barry used and replace it with their own stories. Here’s why.

Your story is simply your story. When you tell your story there is little to argue about because it really happened. It’s a true story! The thing good movies are made of. No one I know argues with a good biography. It’s simply the story of someone’s life-journey. In the same way whether it’s reporting how your workday went or how you saw God that day, there is little to argue with, you are simply reporting data.

Secondly your story is unique. There is no other person in the world with your story. Your story stands alone as much as the fingerprint of your thumb. People tell me I look like Mr. Rogers. I can actually talk and sing like him, but there is only one Mr. Rogers and his story is so different than mine.

Third, your story moves others and you. I’ve told my story over and over. I have my story down to about 7 minutes and I have an outline in my head of how it goes. But often I will say something about myself in my story that breaks my heart. I cry during my own story! The last time I cried was when I said out loud, “I had never heard the words Father and love in the same sentence until the day Barry Stephens told me I had a Heavenly Father who loved me.” Another time I cried during my story was when I mentioned how much my sister loved me and she saved my live when I was little. She was a picture of God’s love for me.

Here’s another tidbit about your story. Your story will change me in some small way. Every story has that kind of power. And for the record, no story is boring. Boring is a comparative word, it sets one experience or event against another.

And lastly, the story of God’s work in your life is always changing. There are new things I remember, there are pieces of my story being added to the puzzle of my life. There are places in my life’s story where I am scared to death and I eventually overcome to accomplish what scares me. My story is under construction. You would expect as much from a God who calls Himself-Creator!

Click Here to hear Mission Discovery’s Don Schreier as he talks about the key components of “Story Telling” at a recent Pre-Field Orientation.

If you would like to hear Don’s Story (testimony) that proceeded the PFO session click here.

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