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The Daily Writer with Kent Sanders

Hello, listeners of the Smart Business Writing podcast! Thanks so much for listening, and feel free to contact me with any questions or comments!

Nov 8, 2018

As an artist and a creative, one of the most valuable skills you can learn is how to engage people with storytelling. Stories are the way we process information and make sense of the world around us. I’m excited today to bring you this conversation with a friend who helps us learn from the greatest storyteller of all time: Jesus.

Today I’m thrilled to be talking with Doug Phillips, who is the Professor of New Testament and Greek Studies, and the Chair of the Biblical Education Division at St. Louis Christian College, where I am also a Professor. Doug has multiple advanced degrees and is also working on a PhD in New Testament from Asbury Theological Seminary.

On this episode, we’re going to do a deep dive into the topic of storytelling in the Bible. Doug shares his journey to becoming a professor and helps us understand why Jesus’ parables were so powerful. You’ll learn what makes an effective story, the key components of Jesus’ parables, and how to start applying those lessons to your own communication.

Episode Highlights

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • How Doug became a Christian college professor.
  • Why Doug had to learn 5 languages for his Ph.D program.
  • What draws particular people to Old Testament or New Testament studies.
  • What a parable is, and why Jesus used them.
  • Why Jesus’ stories have a shock value (and why your stories should have it also).
  • The value of reading your Bible slowly and carefully.
  • Why the story of Esther is so dramatically satisfying.
  • Keys to understanding parables, including: time elements, characters (clothing, speech, etc.), storyline, rising and falling tension, and narrative foils.
  • Practical steps for becoming a more effective communicator, no matter what your field.

Key takeaways:

1. Understand your audience. It’s vital that we speak to our listeners or readers in a way where they can relate. Jesus knew his audience and used stories that spoke to their needs and concerns. Take time to identify your ideal audience member or customer and think about how to communicate to them in a way they understand.

2. Use an inductive approach in your communication. It doesn’t work to just say, “Here’s what you should think, believe, or do.” A much better approach is to lead people in a way where they come to a conclusion on their own. Help people process the information you want them to know. As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Good storytelling can help us lead people instead of pushing them.

3. Study the Bible to improve your communication. It’s easy to separate your spiritual life from your business or creative work. But you can learn a lot by studying the communication techniques and the literary genres of the Bible. Today’s audiences have a short attention span. Whether you’re a writer, speaker, podcaster, pastor, or other type of communicator, there is a lot you can learn from Jesus’ short, punchy style of storytelling. In addition, a large percentage of the Bible is some form of narrative—40% of the Old Testament, and much of the New Testament (the Gospels, Acts, and most of Revelation.) So, there are a lot of stories that not only teach us on a spiritual and historical level, they also help us to become better storytellers if we are willing to pay attention and learn from this ancient book that is living and active in our lives today.


Podcast Partners:

Looking for Christmas gift ideas? My book The Artist’s Suitcase: 26 Essentials for the Creative Journey is the perfect gift for the artist or creative person in your life (or even yourself!)

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