Story is one of the most effective ways to correct and teach others. Our human nature seems to recognize injustice and wrongdoing in the lives of others more easily than it does in our own. For this reason, using story to reveal truth is a very effective tool. It leaves the epiphany to the hearer and thus leads the way for self-correction. Jesus often spoke in parables. He also often explained his parables. Even the prophet Nathan corrected King David with a parable. So how can we as parents provoke our children to love and to do good works through story?
Let's turn to II Samuel for guidance. King David was a military man. It was in his character to go out to war with his men, but this particular spring, he had sent his men to fight the Ammonites while he stayed home. David didn’t use his leisure time well. After seeing a beautiful woman bathing, he began to lust after her. David knew she was another man’s wife, but he still called his soldiers to bring the young woman to him. This adulterous act led to something even worse—the murder of the woman's husband. Nathan disapproved of David's actions. But he did not rebuke him directly. Nathan was wise in his choice to use story to convict David. II Samuel 12:1-6 tells us,
" And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him,'There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.' Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, 'As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.'”
After David came to his own conclusion about the rich man's behavior, Nathan spoke plainly and explained that David was the rich man in the story. Once David had come to judgement against the rich man, there was nothing he could do but determine himself guilty. What a powerful tool! Nathan used this parable to reveal to David what selfishness and stealing does in a person’s life.
Here are other biblical parables you can use to inspire a teachable moment in your home:
Humiliation and condemnation come from the outside in, but humility and conviction are events that happen from the inside out. Correction through story allows the listener to connect the dots and make the decision to change a personal choice. It may be tempting to impose our opinions and standards on someone else, but it is much less effective than allowing a child (or anyone for that matter) to come to a revelation and determination of their own values and convictions.
I’d like to offer one last tip before you begin your storytelling discipleship. Before sharing a parable with someone, pray that the Holy Spirit would use your words to convict. It is only the Spirit that can draw people to God. A great scripture to pray before entering this endeavor is Ephesians 1: 17-18, "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."