The crucial organizational role of stories

By By Peter K. Greer (originally posted at peterkgreer.com) on Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Twenty years ago, I graduated from college with a passion to work with a global organization in microenterprise development. Willing to go anywhere and do anything, I enthusiastically sent my resume to every organization I could find engaged in this sector. I eagerly waited for a response… and waited, and then waited some more as my impending graduation loomed large. At long last, I received a letter (the sole response I received from the scores of organizations I’d written!), but it wasn’t the response I had longed to receive. It stated, in no uncertain terms, that they had no roles available for someone with my skill set.

So after graduation, I moved back into my parents’ basement. Not exactly my college dream. The life I found myself living looked nothing like the one I’d spent four years dreaming about.

I was crushed.

But in retrospect, it’s clear to me that God doesn’t waste experiences, and though His timing rarely matches mine, it’s always better. After landing a job in the business office at Lexington Christian Academy and learning deeply valuable skills about finance and nonprofit management, I eventually journeyed to Cambodia and then Rwanda with World Relief. And then after graduate school, I landed a role with HOPE International.

It didn’t happen immediately, but I recognize that I was finally given the opportunity to do what I longed to do – and it’s been an incredible ride. I never want to forget how thankful I am for the opportunities the Lord has given me over the past 20 years.

None of us wants to forget God’s goodness – where we’ve come from, and how God has provided for us every step of the way. Unfortunately, most of us suffer from a sort of spiritual amnesia. Like so much in life, remembering is a discipline that we need to develop. If we aren’t intentional about remembering God’s faithfulness, we lose sight of it all too quickly.

We need to learn to be excellent storytellers. Over and over again throughout Scripture, the people of God recount His goodness to them. They retell stories of rescue and unmerited redemption, stories of God’s outrageous power displayed through laughably weak people. Believing that the best indicator of what God is going to do in the future is what He’s done in the past, they tell each other the stories that prove the faithfulness of God in their lives over and over again.

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD, yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.” Psalms 77:11-12

The most powerful way to fight against our spiritual amnesia is to intentionally, and specifically remember who God is and what He’s done. We need to hear the old stories, and keep telling them.

Personally and organizationally, we would do well to cultivate the active discipline of holy remembrance of God’s good gifts.

To remember the answers to prayer, even when they didn’t happen in our ideal timing.

To remember the people who God sent to walk with us.

To remember the moments that we were surprised by joy… surprised by a good God who delights in giving His children good gifts.

When I look back, I am awed by the way that God has led and cared for me, and I never want to forget any of it. I want to do everything in my power to combat spiritual amnesia. I want to be a faithful storyteller.

Telling the stories of God’s faithfulness propels us into the future with great confidence, not in our plans, but in His.

When we look at what God has done in the last 20 years, we have every reason to look towards the next twenty with courage and joy.

On we go!

Peter Greer is President and CEO of HOPE International, a global Christ-centered microenterprise development organization serving throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Greer will be speaking at Northwestern’s November Fuel Leadership Conference.