I’m amazed at what I learned about myself at THE STORYLINE CONFERENCE hosted by Donald Miller last week in Nashville. I attended thinking that I would learn how to write my book; instead I learned how to start living my life.
Donald used many contemporary examples from movies asking, “Have you ever been bored watching a movie? If so, it’s probably due to one of three reasons:
1. You don’t know what the primary character wants,
2. What the primary character wants is selfish or uninteresting, or,
3. The character isn’t having to go through enough conflict.
These are faulty storylines that cause a story to drag. As always, the same is true in life. If we find ourselves disengaged from life, it’s likely that we haven’t set clear ambitions, or those ambitions are selfish or present no challenges.”
Donald next had us identify five primary roles that we play and summarize our “ambitions” for them. Examples of roles are husband, mother, son, sister, friend, employee, boss, physical being, spiritual being, athlete, artist, writer, plumber, etc.
My five primary roles are: Friend, Employee, Physical Being, Spiritual Being and Artist.
Based upon these roles, Donald had us write “ambition” statements which are clarifying words defining what our roles should look like.
For Friend, I wrote:” I want my friends to feel supported by my presence and to know that I pray for them each morning in church as well as throughout the day. I want them to know that I am loyal and they can rely on me for support when they hit rough patches. I want my friends to feel important by my listening to them.”
For Spiritual Being, I wrote: “I want to know God better by reading His word, worshiping in a loving community and having meaningful conversations with faithful people. I want to show others that I trust God completely and rely on Him for everything in my life.”
For Artist, I wrote: “I want to be the pen and camera that God uses to show others His beautiful creation whether sharing a story over a cup of coffee or shooting a picture of a beautiful Russian Coptic nun in a church in the Holy Land.”
At the conclusion of our self-examination, Donald said, “Now you need to start “Dating Your Ambitions.” Choose an “ambition” and start living into it like you were dating a girl for the first time. Take her out and court her and see how it goes.”
For example, for my ambition as an ARTIST, maybe I should go back to the Holy Land or to South Africa and make a photo documentary of the Christians’ lives there. Or maybe I need to add speaking engagements at churches to my blog writing. If it is the story that God has in mind for me, I’ll know it by the way that it makes me feel, that I am pleasing God. I may have to kiss some toads along the way; some of these “dating relationships” may not work out, but I will know when it is right and it will be worth it when I find the story that God wants me to live into.
What are your five primary roles and your ambitions for them? Start dating them!