A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life

A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life

by Bill Blankschaen

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Overview

A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life by Bill Blankschaen

What if you could live an authentic life of such lasting significance that your story would be celebrated in places and times you can’t even imagine? What if you had the courage to “step out before knowing how it all turns out?”

This hands-on field guide packs in true stories and practical tips for living a life of authentic faith in God, the kind that gets out of the boat and leaves a lasting legacy. Author Bill Blankschaen’s winsome voice meets you where you are in your life journey and calls you to something more, to a grander, more meaningful life grounded in biblical truth. With real-life stories and Scripture, Blankschaen shows you how authentic faith

- Gives focus to your life,

- Opens your eyes to possibilities,

- Produces the courage to answer the call,

- Moves you to move mountains, and

- Empowers you to keep moving forward when facing problems.

Life is short. Take control of your story. Start now. Experience A Story Worth Telling for a faith that changes everything.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426786433
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Publication date: 05/01/2015
Pages: 194
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.49(d)

About the Author

Bill Blankschaen is a writer and speaker who has been teaching FaithWalkers material over the last 17 years to audiences ranging in age from 4 to 100. A former principal and director of Development for The Center for Cultural Leadership, his writing has been featured with Michael Hyatt, Skip Prichard, Ron Edmondson, High Hewitt, Jeff Goins, Catalyst Leaders, and Faith Village. He lives in Chardon, Ohio.

Read an Excerpt

A Story Worth Telling

Faith Walkers


By Bill Blankschaen

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2015 William B. Blankschaen
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-8643-3



CHAPTER 1

YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR STORY


Stories: there's no escaping them, and who would want to? The world runs on tales of conflict and romance! Television thrives on them. Marketers squeeze them into thirty-second spots. Politicians manufacture them. Journalists seek an "angle" while sports broadcasters claim to have the "inside story" behind competing teams. We watch other people live stories through reality TV and idolize celebrities who appear to have stories of glamour and success. We share briefly in their joy or pain—even when their stories end tragically, or they get voted off the island—then turn to the next prepackaged talent, hoping to discover another escapade we can pretend to live, if only for fleeting moments.

And that's the key, isn't it? We love stories because we long to experience one of our own, to take an expedition that requires the courage to dream for a cause we believe in, even in the face of great risk. We want our lives to become dramatic tales of adventure and danger in which we face imminent peril, take on impossible challenges—instead of pretending that our story actually means something.

But what if you didn't have to pretend? What if you didn't have to borrow someone else's adventure? What if you could live a story worth telling, a life of such lasting significance that the account of your life would not just be told but celebrated in places and times you cannot now imagine? Is that a journey you'd be interested in taking? Wait—before you answer, there's something you should know: talking about living a story worth telling and actually doing it are very different things. Talking requires little; living demands more. Living a story worth telling requires you to step into the unknown, a place where you have no idea what will happen next. It calls you to confront your deepest fears, biggest personal giants, and darkest villains. The journey demands that you endure the discomfort of change and the potential for deep disappointment. In short, living a story worth telling is not easy. That's why most people settle for a story that is anything but worth telling. They choose safety over significance, comfort over lasting legacy. But as John C. Maxwell says, "Security does not give purpose." Gail Sheehy, author of Passages, captures the choice each of us must make:

If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we are not really living. Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean a giving up of familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, relationships that have lost their meaning. As Dostoevsky put it, "taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most." The real fear should be the opposite course.


It's true that stories can be unpredictable—that is often why we like them. But they are also inescapable. If you're breathing, you're living a story now. The plot unfolds with each breath you take. The question is not will you live a story, but will your story be worth telling?


A SOAP-BUBBLE LIFE

Here in the second decade of the twenty-first century, thinking our stories could be worth telling might strike some people as odd. We've grown up getting trophies for merely showing up, so to suggest that some stories have more value than others may seem elitist. We live in a day when those who celebrate success too loudly are decried as being inconsiderate of the less fortunate. And those who suggest one value or perspective is superior to another are derided as intolerant. Consequently, we demean the value of everything—even of value itself—by insisting that all outcomes be valued equally. As Steven Garber recently phrased it, many of us embrace the cultural slogan of whatever. We're not happy with where that perspective leaves us, nor does it actually work in reality, but whatever. Even though we sense a deeper purpose that calls us to live a greater story, we resign ourselves to living a meaningless tale, going with the flow as a river's currents conform to rocky banks.

American cultural commentator Mark Twain accurately described this cynical view of life more than a century ago:

We are blown upon the world; we float buoyantly upon the summer air a little while, complacently showing off our grace of form and our dainty iridescent colors; then we vanish with a little puff, leaving nothing behind but a memory—and sometimes not even that. I suppose that at those solemn times when we wake in the deeps of the night and reflect, there is not one of us who is not willing to confess that he is really only a soap-bubble, and as little worth the making.


Truth be told, our worst fear is that we will live and die and our lives will have made no difference to anyone. We're afraid that we will be just soap bubbles that floated for a bit, then—pop! Nothing but splotches evaporating in the inevitable heat of the next inevitable day. Is this cultural pressure to run from meaning really the story you want? Living a story worth telling will produce the greatest joy possible, even as it tests your courage. Your life can mean more than you can imagine, because no one dreams of a soap-bubble life. But what do you dream of? Take a moment now to pause and reconnect with those dreams.


THE CHOICE IS ALL YOURS

Here's the great news: you can choose to live a story worth telling! No matter where you find yourself in life right now, you can reach the place where you know your story matters. Today you may be energized by apparent success, discouraged by soul-wrenching failure, uncertain about your next move, or crippled by suffering that has left you with little hope. On the other hand, you may be completely comfortable with your life, wondering why your friend gave you this book and why you would ever choose a more challenging existence. But no matter your starting point, you can take the journey to live a story worth telling, my friend. You can begin now. And you don't need to do it alone.

This book is intended to serve as your field guide for stepping out of your comfort zone and into the adventure of a storymworth telling. So lace up your hiking boots and prepare to pack for the journey—it's not for the faint of heart, but nothing worthwhile ever is. And just because you can live a more meaningful life doesn't mean you will. You must consciously choose it. Existing is all about drifting downstream, going with the flow, rolling down the path of least resistance. Living a dynamic, fulfilling story promises something grander: the opportunity to connect with something bigger than we can even imagine. It requires leaving the well-worn paths and off-roading through life in ways that often make little sense to those simply existing around us.

Adventure means groping through the thickest mists, braving the deepest valleys, and scaling the steepest cliffs in order to achieve what most say is impossible. Sure, it will be difficult. But let's face it: the worst stories aren't the ones with sad endings or tragic denouements. No, the worst stories are those that seem to lack any point at all. They drift in random directions like soap bubbles, leaving us confused at best, bored at worst, but mostly just frustrated that we wasted time listening.

When we think about the stories we love to tell and retell, they are not tales of drifting, but of intentional living in pursuit of a higher purpose. They're not tales of comfort and ease, but of tension and risk. The heroes we cheer are the characters who believe in something of value, something worth fighting for. They act on what they believe to be true, often in spite of discomfort, fear, and uncertainty—and that makes their stories worth telling.

Perhaps most important, the heroes are normal, everyday people like you and me who at one point thought it impossible to live a story worth telling. They had to opt between settling for the way things were or carving out a new path to the way things should be. They hoped, like Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings, that someone else would take the Ring so they could return to their peaceful Shire. Like the demure princess Esther, they dreaded asking for a favor that could save lives but cost everything. Like the disabled soldier in Avatar, they thought themselves unfit to take on a greedy military industrial machine to save a peaceful, native people. But they all chose to act on what they believed to be true and become heroes of stories we love to celebrate.

So what's the secret? What's the difference between conventional folk and heroes? It's simple: ordinary people learn to live stories worth telling by walking with extraordinary faith. And so can you.


FAITH IS ...

One of my favorite places on earth to be is Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The story behind the happiest place on earth and one man who saw what others failed to see is one we'll visit in future chapters. But for now, I want to focus on this: as much as I love spending time with my family at the Magic Kingdom, one message I often hear there simply rings hollow. It's when Jiminy Cricket says, "If only you believe!" at the end of every night. "Wishes can come true if you believe in them with all your heart. And the best part is you'll never run out of wishes. 'When you wish upon a star ... make a wish and your dreams will come true.'" As much as I enjoy the fireworks that close the show at Disney World (they're second to none), I can't help but ask myself: Do all these people actually think that if they just believe, they can have anything they desire? Do you believe that? Should I?

Many people, sometimes even you and I, think that's what faith must be: a crazy leap into the unknown while you hope that fate, or at least Pinocchio's Blue Fairy, will step in and see you through. But life is too short for that. You might as well trust that Santa will give you the first gift of Christmas at the North Pole if only you choose to get on a train. Such notions are not about faith, but fairy tales.

While some mistake faith for fairy tales, others mistake faith for religion. Religion is intended to support and strengthen faith, though it can also hinder and derail over time. All of us know religious people living stories that are as dull and forgettable as they come. Being religious doesn't mean that you are living with authentic faith—or living a story worth telling.

What's the difference? J. M. Barrie, author of the book Peter Pan on which the Disney tale was based, came a little closer to reality: "All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust." Except for the pixie dust, he got pretty close to capturing just how essential faith is to everything. The need to trust is woven into the very fabric of the universe. And that is why faith, rightly focused, is essential to living a story worth telling.

If faith is not fairy-tale belief and it isn't religion, then what is it? I offer this definition:

Faith is doing what you believe to be true, often in spite of what you see, sense, or feel. Sorry, no feel-good maxims or pixie dust. But no complicated theological-textbook words either. When it comes down to it, faith isn't all that complicated. We'll unpack this simple definition in the pages to come, but for now, note the three main ingredients:

1. Doing. Our stories will be determined by what we do. That seems obvious enough. A little less obvious is that what we do is determined by what we believe to be true. Until we act on what we say we believe, we don't really know what we believe. In those times when our actions bring challenging consequences, we discover what our faith actually is. Our motion reveals our devotion to what we believe to be true.

2. What you believe to be true. Think back on the stories you love. Aren't they stories of heroes who took on the impossible because of something they believed in, whether cause, person, country, or dream? Think of Captain America's renegade band that preserves freedom for all and saves the world from doom inThe Winter Soldier. Or of Marcus Luttrell's true story of loyalty to country and comrades in the mountains of Afghanistan, as vividly portrayed in the film Lone Survivor. Few stories resonate with us like those whose characters laid it all on the line for what they believed. Visionaries like Walt Disney, humanitarians like Mother Teresa, and even ambitious entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs were motivated by what they believed to be true about life and their own unique roles in it.

3. Often in spite of what you see, sense, or feel. Living with abundant faith does not mean that what you believe must always contradict what you see. Too often we make the assumption that we must choose between seeing and believing, as if you can't have one if you have the other. In fact, if what we believe is true, then what we experience should line up with what we believe most of the time. As we will learn shortly, however, our limited senses can take us only so far. Eventually, each and every person must trust in what he or she cannot see in order to live any story at all.


MY FAITH STORY

Just so you know, I am not an expert FaithWalker who's finally reached the destination. Not even close. But I have chosen to be intentional about making the journey to live a story worth telling. I've taken risks, and I've gotten to know many others who've done the same. My hope is to come alongside you as a fellow traveler and invite you to join us in the adventure.

It wasn't so very long ago that, if you had asked, I would have told you that I was indeed living a story worth telling. And I wouldn't have been all wrong. Raised in a Christian home by loving parents, I had served in the church my entire life, even as an elder and pastor. I had helped launch and lead a thriving Christian college-prep school for a dozen years. In that role, I had counseled thousands of students and parents on how to live lives of meaning, significance, and faith. And I was blessed with a wonderful wife and six awesome children.

To all appearances, I was living an exciting story. We had a comfortable house with beautiful gardens. We were a tight-knit family who took regular trips to Walt Disney World. I had a safe, secure job with benefits, not the least of which was nearly unlimited hugs from precious children and the very latest artwork from the kindergarten class. Best of all, I knew I was making a real difference in the world through ministry.

Yet I sensed a restlessness within myself, an awareness that I had quietly begun to drift into simply existing. And I suspected I'd allowed some God-given gifts to lie dormant. You see, for as long as I can recall, I have loved to write. Not just as an enjoyable pastime, but as something I was created to do. To put it in terms of the classic film Chariots of Fire, I had always sensed that when I wrote, I felt God's pleasure. The final clarifying words of my life purpose statement were these: "To get out of the boat. To write. To live. To die." Clearly I saw writing as basic to living, yet I always ended up shelving it in favor of other activities. Not bad things, just easier ones.

I believed God had given me a gift and a passion for communicating his truths to his people. I also believed that he expected me to use those gifts—and I was not, not fully anyway. For many years I tried to lead a school and write, while being a husband and being a father to six children. Maybe some can pull that off, but it never worked for me. It only made the situation more challenging. I had no shortage of sincere people thanking me for the work I was doing, telling me how essential I was to the ministry. I suppose at some level, I'd convinced myself that I was irreplaceable—and that's why I couldn't use all the gifts God had placed within me.

Sensing something stirring within, I enlisted a life coach, Dick Savidge, as a guide. I sought advice from wise counselors and then headed to a chilly lakeside cabin one spring afternoon to pray, think, and make some hard choices. It was only after a full day and night of wrestling with the options before me that the moment finally arrived: I realized I could not stay where I was and get where I longed to go. If my life were to become a story worth telling someday, I would have to act. In one of the most agonizing decisions of my life, I let go of the perceived security I found in my identity as a successful Christian ministry leader and committed to putting my gifts to work for God's kingdom at large. My friend Brad Lomenick, who knows quite a bit himself about stepping into the unknown, puts it like this: "Moving forward requires great risk, but the possibility of running away somehow feels more perilous."

I confess that I had very little idea what this new direction would mean, for me, for my family, and for my faith. I stepped away from the school and into the unknown like Abraham of old, bringing along six young children and a wife crazy enough to love me no matter what. And make no mistake, if I had known how difficult the journey was going to be, I might not have begun it at all. But sometimes ignorance is a blessing, because the rewards have also far exceeded anything I could have imagined.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from A Story Worth Telling by Bill Blankschaen. Copyright © 2015 William B. Blankschaen. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

1 You Can Choose Your Story 1

2 Faith Finds a Focus 19

3 Faith Makes Your Story Worth Telling 33

4 Faith Opens Your Eyes 49

5 Faith Thrives On Truth 67

6 Faith Finds a Voice 87

7 Faith Answers the Call 109

8 Faith Moves You to Move Mountains 129

9 Faith Keeps Moving Forward 145

10 Faith Changes Everything 165

Acknowledgments 174

Notes 176

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A Story Worth Telling: Your Field Guide to Living an Authentic Life 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
DwightPili More than 1 year ago
I'm at a crossroad in my life journey right now. After reading this, now i know which path I'll walk. Thank you Mr. Bill for this wonderful book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book will take you on an adventure that encourages and grows your faith. No matter what your age we all need to live a life that will matter. Finally a book that weeds out the unnecessary and takes us straight to the heart of Jesus. –Anna O’Brien, Graphic Artist
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being someone who has set out to follow his calling, but who has so far failed to grow sufficiently strong in faith to live up to what I had set out to do, I found myself hungrily reading the book from beginning to end immediately after I had received it. Finally here is a hand-on guide that is fully consistent with what I know from the Bible about God's ways, and which allows me to make sense of why I have so badly struggeling and to a significant extent failing, and which most importantly provides credible guidance in regard to the path forward.
Jem0 More than 1 year ago
Very good book. A curious mixture of lightness and depth and a strong message to focus the mind and clarify life's path.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Been waiting for a book like this to come along! Walking by faith isn't easy and often times turning to the Bible, as we should, is the last thing we seem to do. A Story Worth Telling is the right kind of book to guide you back to your true calling as a follower of Jesus Christ and all He calls us to be! Pick up a copy, you will not be disappointed!
Debra_OReilly More than 1 year ago
A story worth reading; a workbook for your life story "Ah! Here’s a secret perspective to give my job-search clients an edge!" As a resume writer and job-search strategist, I specialize in capturing the essence of my clients’ value via their stories. So, from a professional POV, that’s how I read the title of this book, "A Story Worth Telling".  But … wrong! This book is for everyone who wishes to leave a legacy … and especially for those open to the possibility that our legacy derives from faith.  "A Story Worth Telling" takes us through the finer points of faith-walking. Read the thought process; reflect upon it. Ponder the timely questions throughout. Consider it a book worth reading … and a workbook for your life's story.
323JAF More than 1 year ago
I thought I knew what a life of faith was. I had, after all, been a Christian most of my adult life. The Lord led me to a few books, including this one, at a time when I am at a crossroads in my life. I can choose to stay within a comfort zone, or step out in faith to a path that I believe the Lord is leading me. This book is especially helpful because it gives me guide questions at the end of each chapter to help discern the many small choices I have to make. It rightly calls itself a "field guide." Whether you want to set out on an adventure or just want to confirm whether where you are is where you should be, Blankschaen went through the same journey (and continues to do so), and is a trusty guide. I highly recommend this book.
Clay_Sturm More than 1 year ago
Once in heaven, what will we be able to do to prove our love for God that will actually require sacrifice or facing difficulty? Now is our chance to die to ourselves and show God and the rest of the world just how much we love Him and value Him above all else, but if you are anything like me (human, that is) then you are frozen with fear, doubt, and uncertainty. Bill’s new book is a perfect place to start for a wake up call to refocus our lives with an eternal perspective. Thankfully, he doesn't just inspire us to walk a life of abundant faith, and then leave us to figure the rest out by ourselves. Bill switches seamlessly from the inspirational to the practical by examining Biblical heroes of faith, as well as modern Christian role models to spell out how to best position yourself within God’s pleasing will so that He can work through you.