Jesus’ Parables and 21st Century Leadership: Bedtime Stories?

Every night around bedtime, my daughter comes to me and asks the same question: “Daddy, will you tell me a story?” It’s through telling these bedtime stories that I’ve been able to tackle some pretty tough topics, and I’ve been able to share some deeper truths that my six-year-old really needs to hear.

For example, we noticed recently that she was talking a lot about being worried about what other people think and wanting to fit in. We also noticed that she had recently become completely obsessed with Star Wars! So, that gave me an opportunity to tell her a story about Princess Lilly and her epic battle with the evil Darth Popular! See, Darth Popular was trying to convince Princess Lilly to come to the Dark Side to not be herself, doing and saying what others wanted so that she would fit in. But Princess Lilly won this epic battle by staying true to herself and discovering her own unique gifts and talents! And they all lived happily ever after!

Jesus knew the power of stories. He spoke to people in parables, tackling some pretty tough topics and revealing deep truths about the Kingdom of God. N.T. Wright says that many of Jesus’ parables were like “mazes designed to challenge his listeners to work out for themselves how to get to the heart of the matter.” While I the stories I tell my daughter are intended to help her fall asleep, the stories Jesus told were intended to help the people wake up! Instead of “happily ever after,” Jesus’ stories usually end with something like: “whoever has ears, let them hear” (Mt. 13:9).

Consider how you can use parables within the context of your ministry, not only for preaching but also for daily church leadership. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting a few examples of this idea through examining The Parable of the Sower, The Parable of the Lost Son, The Parable of the Wise & Foolish Builders. Through these stories, I hope you will find yourself in the story that God is telling in and through your life.

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Trey has been in full-time ministry for almost 20 years and is currently serving as Pastor of Discipleship and Lead Pastor of Modern Worship at First UMC in his hometown of Murfreesboro, TN. He is married to Abbey, and they have two kids: Lilly Broox and William. Trey is also an ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church, has a Master of Divinity from Asbury Seminary, and is finishing up a Doctorate of Ministry in Youth, Family, and Culture from Fuller Seminary. His passions are encouraging and equipping people to grow in their relationship with Christ and with others.

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