Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Donald Miller on the Power of Story

If you've ever heard Donald Miller speak, then you know it is incredibly memorable, but very difficult to take notes. But here's my best attempt at some of his quotes...

  • There is a ghost of futility that follows me around. I can escape from it through art/music sometimes.
  • My life has changed in the past two years. I've lost 100 pounds. I don't have to think about paying rent anymore. But everything has changed.
  • Story in its most basic form: A character who wants something and is willing to overcome conflict in order to get it.
  • Narrative is the most powerful transformational tool there is. Story has the power to change peoples lives.
  • The Bible is full of stories.
  • If I were to play some sounds of a jackhammer, birds, and a truck backing up, you would say that is noise, not music. But if I were to play Beethoven, you would call that music. They are both noises, vibrations, but what is the difference? I have no idea.
  • There is a difference between random events and story. The mind engages stories, not random information. A story is music. Random information is noise.
  • Where there is a narrative, people can engage.
  • I am a character in a story that hasn't been written yet.
  • My friend said, "Life is meaningless." I said, "No, life is fine. Your life is meaningless." It's the story my friend was writing with his life that he didn't like.
  • A character is what they do, not what they feel or think or want to be.
  • Imagine a documentary film crew making a reality show about you. What would the theme of that show be?
  • If you want to take your kids fishing, it's different than taking them fishing.
  • In a good story, a hero can't think more of himself than he does of others. If he does, then he ceases being the hero.
  • In a good story, the character always wants something. But a movie is not very satisfying if what he/she wants isn't very impressive (like a car). The same is true of your life. If it's not interesting in a movie, it also won't be very interesting in your life.
  • The best stories are when the character wants something, and if he doesn't get it, people might die.
  • Very seldom are humans happy. They only look back on a moment and think they were happy, even though there weren't. They also look forward and think they'll be happy when they get something or do something. Humans are happiest in the past or future but rarely in the present.
  • Marketing is to convince someone they aren't happy and if they buy a product they will be happy.
  • If you are working in order to fund a better story, that's great. But if your working is your story, then I'm not sure that will be very satisfying.
  • A good test for your story is this: If you were to die, what would happen in the world?
  • The times in your life when you say, "I don't know if I'm going to make it" -- that is when the story is getting good.
  • I think the reason that God made it difficult for men and women to communicate is because he wanted to introduce conflict in the story. Because when it works, it is a beautiful thing.
  • The reason kids are so hard, because its God's way of getting us to love them. The bigger price you pay, the more you love them.
  • The only way to change a characters character is through pain.
  • I think you would agree: The times you've changed for the better is through pain.
  • God doesn't ever stop at the end of a story and give the moral of the story. He doesn't. He just tells another story.
  • I believe the main way we consume story is through engaging each other.
  • What would it be like for Christians to silently tell better stories through their lives?