NYWC – Donald Miller on Story

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles

A movie was made out of Blue Like Jazz which was about his life – the screenwriters told him his life was boring – and Don realized they were right – he learned a lot while making this movie…

  1. Every story is about a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it

  2. We approach the Bible looking for what we can get out of it, not simply getting to know God

  3. A perfect character in a story makes people uncomfortable

  4. To tell a good story: the character has to sacrifice of themselves for other people

  5. We think if we succeed, our story/life will matter

  6. But story teaches us that’s not true – we must sacrifice of ourselves

  7. A character is that they do, not what we wished we were, or what we want

  8. All about their actions

  9. We have to want something

  10. A character must be clear on what they want of they’re pulled from the film

  11. If we want things that aren’t important, our story won’t be important

  12. Every great story has to have conflict

  13. By staying safe and not moving forward into conflict, our stories/lives are uninteresting

  14. God intends there to be conflict in life


  1. Only way a character changes is through conflict

  2. Only way they get better is through pain, not joy

  3. Our stories are uninspired & boring if we avoid conflict

  4. The true great character dives into conflict

  5. Act 3 climax: one action makes everything okay

  6. There’s no climax in our human experience – no point where the conflict ends

  7. As Christians, we’re taught that there’s a hole in our soul that only God can fill

  8. It’s not true

  9. That says Jesus is the act 3 climax that will make the conflict go away

  10. Not true

  11. We got this idea from 3,000 commercials a day that instant gratification is possible

  12. We turned Jesus into a product

  13. The Act 3 climax in Scripture is at the wedding feast of the lamb – after we die

  14. In life, we’re in the middle of act 2, right in the middle of conflict

  15. “I’ve learned the secret of being content…hope that will be revealed”

Other Thoughts

  1. The Danish are the happiest people on earth – they have low expectations

  2. We go on such an emotional roller coaster in life

  3. “This will fix my life, I’m so excited” and then it doesn’t work

  4. Contentment is our goal – being emotionally even-keeled

  5. The number one way we understand stories is through each other (not always music & movies)

  6. Conflict doesn’t mean God hates you

  7. Many of the reasons we’re depressed are because we think we can get to a climax and it always falls short

Addressing conflict in the church & youth ministry

  1. Don’t jump into conflict unless it has to do with your story/life

  2. Biblical wisdom on confronting authority

  3. The fall of man happened…and it happened to the church too

  4. Don’t create conflict for the sake of conflict

  5. Be very discerning in the conflict you enter into

Don is very passionate about helping the fatherless generation

  1. Where’s the answer to this generation with absent fathers?

  2. In a wide survey, people were given the choice of government, schools, etc.

  3. 85% chose the church

  4. 70% atheists chose the church

#donaldmiller #nywc #story