On Messengers and Stories

On one hand, last night, I had an easy job. On the another, I had to do the impossible. You see I was on a panel at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, TN, and I was speaking following Hector Black (below right).


Now Hector is, by the account of basically every person who has ever met him, the sweetest and gentlest man in the world. I exaggerate not. Ask anyone. He is also the father of a murder victim. I’m not sure that I could do this, but Hector spoke at the trial of his daughter’s killer against the death penalty and continues to do so today. His story is one that I hope that every person gets to hear at some point. We have more to learn from this man about the true nature of love, compassion, and forgiveness then we probably could given a life time. It was truly an honor to share a podium with him.

And it makes the rest of our lives easier. Once Hector had spoken, the audience was mesmerized. His story and the wonderful gentleness of his personality carries over incredibly to everyone who hears him. They were hooked.

On the other hand, I had to follow that act. I could have given the “I Have a Dream Speech” and people might not have noticed. Trying to bring it home after Hector speaks is like trying to perform after John Coltrane (or some band that’s hip nowadays). I should have just recited the alphabet and sat down.

So why have me speak at all? We never should underestimate the power of stories, and Hector’s is a great one, and the messenger who carries it could not be better selected. But we need to let him tell his story. That story has all the power to move people. But we all don’t have those personal stories and once we’ve moved people’s hearts, we need to move them to action. That’s where this kind of pairing can be so effective. Tell the story and let people be moved. Then have someone else tell them what they can do with that movement. How to strategically act on the incredibly call we receive from messengers like Hector and all the men and women who work with MVFHR, MVFR, and the Journey of Hope. Let their stories provide the engine to move people, all we need to do is make sure that the most effective track.

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