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Personal stories: you can't please everybody

When I was a professional teacher, I would review my student evaluations to see how I could improve my classes. I would always chuckle when some mentioned facet of the class would appear in equal parts of praise from some students and criticism from others. The extremity of reaction was such that half of the students would find a particular aspect of the class to be exceptionally helpful and something to be continued, while the other half described it as the worst part of the class and something to be removed. It turned out that the highest reviews come when the teacher focuses on providing the greatest good to the greatest set of students, not on avoiding aspects some set of students might not like [1].

I expect that there are people who get irritated by my use of personal stories to illustrate gospel ideas.

Believe it or not, I have had several people specifically request that I use more of these for various reasons, including that it helps some better triangulate what might otherwise be ideas too distant seeming from everyday life.

And thus we see that what works well for one is abrasive to another, and vice versa--a lesson every teacher knows. Any good teacher will mix methods and approaches, teaching and re-teaching principles in their public interactions in order to cover the most ground for the widest audience.

For the honest and wise among them, this is no problem, as value can be derived from that in which they find it, while the other material can be readily passed over. Unfortunately, few are either honest or wise, and very few indeed are both. Most are like those who criticized both John the Baptist and Jesus, telling the one that if they were only like the other, they would listen to them.

16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows,
17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil.
19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. (Matthew 11) 

I have had many experiences where I wanted to share a story from my life, and the Lord said, "no." For example, while writing "Seek Ye This Jesus," I routinely included in each description of the possible relationship with the Lord with a personal story of my own experiences in that regard, and the Lord told me in each case "take it out." After this happened many times, I asked him why he kept making me taking those things out, as I imagined it would be helpful for people to have a real life example and hear someone's witness of these things. He said that that book was meant to persuade those who believe the scriptures of the possibility of and path to having those experiences, and that including my own in that case would make it too easy for those who perceive flaws in me to dismiss. On a daily basis, the Lord diverts the recall of many memories into books, whether in the direct biographical form, or with extra work to extract lessons from the context.

I have had many experiences where I didn't want to share a story from my life, and the Lord said, "you need to." I have had sufficient experience with people to know quite well the range of reactions and the triggers people have. [2] Believe it or not, I stay away from sharing things that cause more harm than good. When I am too reserved, the Lord always takes me back to his interaction with the early disciples who followed him where he said "come and see." He has taught me many, many things about the importance of and appropriate circumstances for personal demonstration of what the Lord is like. I will share all of it with you as soon as I have sufficient time to prepare it and everything that must come before and with it.

With each of these interactions, I learn a little more about when the Lord would have me do what. 

[1] - "Didn't you get cancelled? Maybe that didn't work out so well." First, nothing anyone can do can harm a person who is consecrated to God. God's purposes can't be frustrated by anyone. Second, I was not cancelled for my professional performance, which was rated as exceptional by every measure employed.

[2] - Like Moses, I am able to respond to the Lord's instructions to me with followup questions fully anticipating the people's response and leveraging the interaction to get not just the next step, but the subsequent steps. For example, when God sends Moses to redeem Israel from slavery, he already accurately anticipates what they will say and do in response: "And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The Lord hath not appeared unto thee." (Exodus 4:1) In response, the Lord provides means and shows Moses how to perform the miracles he did in Egypt. When Israel arrived at Sinai, the Lord imposed a purification period during which no one was allowed to come up or even touch the mountain. When the Lord told Moses to bring the people up the mountain to see him, Moses responded by asking him what he should do when the people used the previous prohibition as an excuse not to come (see Exodus 19, especially verse 23).