Use every opportunity to share your story.
We all have a story to be told. Mine changed dramatically on April 16, 2016. You see, I can never get those lights out of head, nor that one sentence: “Ma’am, we hate to inform you that your husband is deceased.” The trooper said it like I had already known that outcome, but I honestly had no idea what he was trying to tell me. I had been staring at my husband Rasheed for a matter of seconds, but it seemed as if it had been an eternity. He hadn’t moved.
My rock, my world, my love was always going to be there — right? I knew there must have been a mistake. Sadly, there was not. In a matter of minutes, everything changed. He was once the reason behind my smile. His presence fueled my joy; now his absence is the reason behind its antithesis. My beloved husband was killed in a hit and run that April day in Orlando.
I went from being happy, feeling safe and being confidently faithful to the opposite. I went from being his wife to his widow. I went from being the storyteller to the one who needed the story told. As a television anchor, I have always understood the power of the media. I know firsthand what it is like to knock on the door of a grieving relative and ask them to spill his or her life story for a one-minute clip. Now I also know what it’s like to sit on the other side of the camera and beg for help from people you’ll never meet.
Though our stories are all different, we each have one to tell. Those stories are central to who we are as people, and as leaders. Knowing how to tell our stories well is vital. As a ministry leader, telling your story through broadcast, print or digital means is one of your greatest opportunities. People need to hear your voice. And in order for them to grow from what you’re sharing, you must help them connect with your story.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 says,
“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
Every story, every press conference and every interview you grant is an opportunity to do exactly what that Scripture asks of us. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
In an interview, be yourself (just with more energy). The discomfort you may feel by pretending to be someone you’re not will be amplified on camera. It doesn’t just add 10 pounds to your physique; it magnifies your emotions. That can be a scary thing, but let it push you to speak as if you were chatting with a dear friend about sharing God’s love with those who need it most. The interviewer and the news consumer must connect with you.
Do not fear telling a difficult story. We’ve all heard or probably said, “let your mess become your message.” It’s a popular saying because it is true. Opening up to the world about the most painful part of my life has been both incredibly difficult and extremely rewarding because I’ve heard from other hurting souls who needed comfort. It’s simple. People need to feel your authenticity. It keeps them watching or reading, and it keeps journalists returning to you for future interviews. It’ll also help you connect more deeply with believers from the pulpit.
Did you or someone in your organization make a mistake? Own up to it. It may sound like I’m oversimplifying, but I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve covered of leaders who fell deeper into trouble when they tried to cover up something simple. People understand that mistakes happen. Tell your side of the story. Explain what you know and admit what you do not, and then move on. The news crews usually will as well.
As for me, I’m healing. Every day isn’t easy, but I’m starting to feel more of God’s grace and my husband’s love with each passing day. I look forward to the day I am reunited; however, until then, I know God has left me here to continue telling more of his stories in order to help his people. I hope you do the same.
Kimberly Holmes Wiggins is a television journalist. She’s produced award-winning pieces that connect with diverse audiences. Kimberly graduated from Duke University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. With a widow “sister,” she launched a faith-based retail company called Still His. This post is an excerpt from the 2017 Summer edition of Outcomes magazine.
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