The Importance of the Back Story (and How You Can Use It!)

back story

The back story is intriguing and so important. In light of the back story, your understanding of and compassion for the person or situation becomes clearer.  Sometimes, the back story is what creates the awe in a story.  A good example might be Abe Lincoln, one of the greatest leaders who ever lived.  But inspiration grows as you hear how many times he was defeated on his journey toward becoming the president, leading the nation through it’s darkest hour.  Read: Lincoln’s Defeats and Successes. The back story is important in so many ways.

I’ve heard you should never skip over the introduction, forward or preface while reading a book. It gives you insights that you won’t get otherwise. You understand why the book was written.

When my daughter and I recently visited an Art Museum on field trip, I was amazed at how the paintings and sculptures took a different turn after we read the meaning behind them. We read about the authors, about the era and the “why” behind the painting.

I recently heard a story about a guy who pulled into a church parking lot in a Lexus. One bystander who didn’t know the man judged his car, saying consumerism and the American Dream was the demise of potent Christianity in the nation. The man he was talking to stopped him and said, “Wait a minute, that is a personal friend of my who makes one million a year, tithes, personally funds the inner city mission with about $600,000 annually, and could be driving a Rolls Royce, but lives several notches below his means to do kingdom work.

How does a back story work for you?  Here are some thoughts:

1) Share It.

An example for this might be in writing a song.  Often, while performing a song you wrote, the why behind how the song was written is nearly as interesting as the song itself. When you know the back story, share it if you can!  Do it in a nutshell so you don’t ramble on on. This helps people see how far you (or the situation has come). The knowledge of past circumstance either pertaining to ourselves or another situation is not only valuable, but interesting to people.  There is a guy in our church who has been instrumental in making things happen over the last three years.  He helps with ministries, helps in hauling equipment, sound rentals and stage productions, he mows the lawn, works on mowers, helped salt the parking lot all winter, create videos and DVD’s for worship, plays music, runs sound sometimes and has become a jack of all trades. The back story is that he was involved in an accident just a few years back that left him in ICU for months on end with little hope for recovery.  I remember being called to the hospital at least twice to meet with the family and chaplains.  But, by the grace of God, he came through.  After 13 months, he was alive and home.  It’s an amazing story that is enhanced even more when you know what he has come through!

2) Use It.

Use what you know as you cast vision.  This is where we have been, this is where we are now, but this is where we want to be. And as we are going, let’s give God thanks for what he has done in our lives!  Use the back story as you share your story of faith with others.

3) Ask About It.

One great question for conversation is, “tell me the back story.”  Finding out how someone decided to do something is about as meaningful as what they are doing. Leaders who go deeper with people ask “why” questions,  are naturally intrigued by people and dig into the back-story. Follow up questions are great as someone shares something with.  Try asking about the back story during a conversation today.


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