What Values Have To Do With Storytelling

We have three words on our website, in our magazine, and on our business cards. Faith, Pursuit, and Excellence. They’re more than catchy words, they’re what we value. But why does a magazine need values? Specifically, what do values have to do with storytelling?

When you decide to tell stories you quickly discover that the opportunities are endless. Even if you only want to tell your own stories, just one day in your life can result in dozens of potential stories. 

Our values are our filter. They help us to recognize the select group of stories that we want to tell. Our values for storytelling might be drastically different than yours and that's neither right nor wrong. Our values were carefully chosen for our mission. They lean on one another to give us clarity that is greater than the sum of its parts. And they stem from three questions I believe any beginning storyteller should answer:  

  • Question One: What do I believe?
  • Question Two: What moves me?
  • Question Three: What are my standards?
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When we asked ourselves these questions it clarified the stories we want to tell. And we think it could help you in the same way. So, we want to walk you through how we answered these questions.

1. What do we believe? We believe that God is good, and He loves and created the world. That all humans are created equal and deserve dignity, and that Jesus is the messiah and savior of all peoples. It sounds big and simple because it's the foundation that everything else leans on. Like a big, simple concrete slab below a tower. In one word, we have faith.

2. Next, we build. In light of what we believe, what moves us? Well basically, we’re moved when we’re chasing something that aligns with what we believe. What moves us is stories where people have a genuine passion for the chase. It can apply to business, missionary work, family time, side hustle, entrepreneurship, volunteering, or anything someone can purse that would align with what we believe. We value positive motion, being in pursuit of something.

3. Lastly, what are our standards? Here is where things really begin to lean on each other. In light of what we believe and considering what moves us, what are our standards? This can be applied morally, professionally, and creatively. When you know what you believe about the world and you know what moves you, the stories begin to flood in. So, your standards are really your finest filter to catch the last bit of unwanted grounds from falling in your coffee.

The only way we could define our standards in all three categories is Excellence. A higher standard, beyond ordinary, in the way we select, write, and share stories. The implications of Excellence are anything but simple. When we realized our standard was Excellence it shaped the mediums we told stories on. It changed the paper stock, the investment in graphic design, social media, and our vision for what THE/RISE should grow to be.

Faith. Pursuit. Excellence.

When you know the answers to these three questions, you know your values. They don’t need to be one-word answers. Take all the space you need to answer each question fully. Then, boil it down to its simplest form so it’s easy to remind yourself. For THE/RISE, our values are internal and external. They guide the decisions we make, and they help communicate what we’re about. If you’re writing for yourself, chances are your values may only be internal and that’s ok. But caution to the person or organization that only uses their values externally. Not only does this cloud your judgement, but it’s the equivalent of navigating the ocean without so much as a compass.