Donald Miller spoke at Orange two years ago in a main session. From that year, I only remember two main session talks, Reggie’s and Donald’s. So, I was excited to get to hear him again. This time it was an interview and not a featured talk. I did enjoy what he had to say. I didn’t take many notes, but really one key concept has stuck with me these last few days. Donald talked a lot about story and what it takes to have a good story. You need conflict and resolution and development. When you don’t have those things, the story is boring. Life is the same way and we need to see our lives as stories. In the midst of our lives, we need to look at what might be missing and make changes so that our story is powerful.
Donald shared a story that I’ve heard Reggie share a few times. It was about dad who was losing his teenage girl. She was dating a trouble maker and disengaging from the family. The dad heard from someone that this “other life” was offering a better story. This dad then made a commitment for his family to raise $20,000 to build an orphanage in Mexico. He was initially encountered with resistance from the family, but eventually everyone jumped on board and everyone brought ideas and excitement to the mission. Within a few weeks, the trouble-maker boyfriend was history. The teenage daughter now had a better story to live and the boyfriend didn’t fit in the context of this “more exciting” story.
Donald shared that is isn’t necessary to win for the story to be great. It’s only necessary to sacrifice. It’s like the movie Friday Night Lights, based on the West Texas football team. In the movie, the team loses the final game (sorry if I spoiled it). The true story is that they won the following year, but that year didn’t seem to take as much discipline and sacrifice as the previous year. The year they lost was a better story. It made for a better movie. In your life, winning isn’t necessary, but the conflict, the sacrifice and costs extracted make the difference of a life well lived or wasted. In II Chronicles 6:7-8 it describes how David wanted to build the temple, but never did. He did well because the temple was in his heart. It was an unrealized dream, but he did much to see that temple become a reality in the life after his. This sounds a lot like Hebrews 11, describing all the fathers of our faith who never realized the promise.
This talk left me with a lot to think about. It’s so easy to measure my life by what I accomplish, but rarely do I look at how we actually live.