Religion Magazine

Two Thousand Words

By Richardl @richardlittleda

An unwritten story

As the Christmas busy-ness dies down, time comes to read the Christmas books. One of mine this year is Gavin Esler’s book on the importance of stories for leaders, ‘Lessons from the top‘. Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that I am fascinated. Time and again I find myself returning to the recognition that humans are ‘storytelling creatures’. and they can be one of the most powerful weapons in the communicator’s arsenal. To date I have only read the first chapter of Essler’s book, and I am already gripped.

If it is true that a picture is worth one thousand words, then the images below are worth at least two thousand. On the right is activist Mandela on trial in a white man’s court wearing a black man’s tribal dress. On the left is President Mandela at a rugby match wearing the jersey of a rugby team which symbolized much of his nation’s white-black divide. Is he a leopard changing its spots, a chameleon, or something far far more skillful? Maybe you should read the book and find out…At his trial he famously stated that he had ‘fought against white domination and fought against black domination’. His dress, like his words, simply served his cause differently on each occasion.

Images: BBC and

Images: BBC and

A preacher is a servant of the message she or he preaches – nothing more nor less. If we want sermons to be life-shaping stories, then we must be prepared to put everything we have at their disposal, which may be more than words.


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