7 Reasons Storytelling Is Important

It was the end of a long yet exhilarating week. 10 of us flew to Honduras to drill a water well for some families in a village. Each day began early with breakfast before an hour drive to the village. The day ended with an hour return trip to our hotel for dinner and group time.

We slept hard and fast each night to do it again the following day. On the next to last day of our trip we began our two-day trek back to the city our flight departed.

After several hours on a bus, we arrived at our last hotel. After unpacking and freshening up, we met for dinner. I sat staring at my dinner almost too tired to eat the wonderful meal before me. Yet I ate.

During dinner, our Honduran team leader announced that he wanted to share a story with us afterward. He asked us to meet him in the lobby of the hotel because it had a large map of Honduras on the wall that would help him tell his story.

As I ate my dinner, I began to feel sick. Even though I hoped to garner some energy from my meal, it didn’t happen. Yet, I made my way over to the hotel lobby to hear his story.

Why did I do that even though I hardly could keep my eyes open and I had to excuse myself a few times for a run to the bathroom?

I love hearing a good story!

Even though that was over four months ago, I remember much of the story.

It seems several things I am involved with now is driving home the importance of storytelling. Here is what I am learning:

Everyone enjoys a good story.

Not only do we like to hear a good story, we like to hear it over and over. Can you recall listening to a parent or grandparent tell the same story for the 100th time? Did you ever grow tired of hearing it? Probably not.

I would rather listen to a good story than a presentation filled with facts, charts, and prose.

Storytelling preserves our history.

Most of the world preserves their history by orally telling stories. Our culture of the printed word is a little at a disadvantage. I think we lost the ability and will to tell our children and children’s children the story of our families.

I remember about twenty years driving my grandmother from San Antonio back to her home in Smithville, Texas. I began asking her about her childhood. As she told story after story, I began wishing our drive was longer.

Storytelling disciples.

You shall teach them (God’s commandments) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV

How did Jesus disciple? He told stories.

Storytelling leads to action.

As I learn to write, I find that we tend to take action after reading or hearing a compelling story. If I just give you facts about orphaned children, or homeless people, or trafficked women, you probably will just shake your head or go numb.

But, if I convey a story about an at-risk, fatherless child whose life changed because of a family fostering or adopting that child, you now have a face with a name and a story. That moves us to action.

We learn through stories.

Storytelling provides context. We remember the who, why, what, and so on which helps us remember the story.

When we remember stories we share them with others reinforcing the story in our own mind. We ponder its meaning. The truths found in the story begin to teach and mold us.

Storytelling inspires creativity.

Children tell the most creative stories! Somewhere along the way we lose this ability, at least in our culture. Creating a story out the raw facts of an event captures our attention, both the storyteller and the listener.

Storytelling help people heal.

A few years ago I attended a Critical Stress Incident Management (CISM) training. Know what we learned to do? Help acute trauma victims tell their story.

I continue to read and study how to help at-risk children like those from foster care. What do you think helps a child process the complex (recurring) trauma in their life? Yep. Help them know and tell their story—over and over.

Are you thinking what I am thinking?

I hope so. I am thinking that I need to become a good storyteller.

What is another reason storytelling is important?

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

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One thought on “7 Reasons Storytelling Is Important

  1. Kenneth, I very much agree with you. Good story telling can make a difference. When Boy falls distant and becomes unresponsive, I tell him the Boy Story. Basically, I recount his life, from his babyhood, how hard it must have been, his stay in the shelter to first foster home, then the second. I speak of how he may have felt…
    It usually helps him to come back to reality, putting words to his feelings. He has wanted to hear it a couple of times during a tough situation.
    Also, when telling the children about Jesus, they may not be as interested if it becomes just a sermon (I’ve done this too many times)… But when I tell the STORY behind Him, how He has helped me or how He has helped others, then they can relate to it in their little and more colorful minds 🙂