Who is Directing Your Story? Why Having a Higher Power Matters

Donald Miller

Steve Taylor, Myself and Marshall Allman at the SXSW Film Festival

This month I’ve been traveling with Steve Taylor who directed Blue Like Jazz. Steve is the engine behind the movie and has been from the beginning. I’d even say Steve was the principle writer.

On set, Steve displayed the best example of leadership I’d seen to date. He was strong on task, but open to everybody’s ideas. Even while filming ten to twelve hour days, he took time at night to write thank-you cards to crew. I learned that from one of the ladies in the make-up truck.

I learned a lot about leadership from Steve. I learned you can’t railroad your way but you can lead with a vision, hard work and a lot of kindness. Steve also taught me something about life while we were filming the movie. He taught me that we all need a director, somebody to call the shots and to remind us about the overall arch of our story.

Movies aren’t shot in the order of scenes in the screenplay. You may be shooting the first scene of the screenplay followed by the last, all in a day. This means actors had to know the script inside and out to understand where their character was in the development of the story.

Actors have to know their parts, but Steve had to know everybody’s part. To this day, Steve has the entire script memorized.

Often, while filming, Steve would pull an actor aside and remind them of what had just happened in the story, whether it was to influence a wardrobe change or to help the character understand how sad they were supposed to be.

In life, we need somebody to help us understand the big picture of not only our story, but the story of all of humanity. For me, that somebody is God. I was asked recently who my higher power was and I told the person my higher power was Jesus. And in a way, Jesus acts in my life the way Steve acted on set. Jesus reminds me the story isn’t about me, and other characters matter, and He reminds life is short and matters of the heart trump all. He helps me understand what my motivation should be and about what’s gone on in my past.

I am convinced life-stories void of a director are disasters waiting to happen. There is no way we can get all of life crammed into our little heads. We need somebody who has the whole script memorized, not just our parts, but the whole of the epic narrative.

Who is your higher power, and how does your relationship with that power influence your daily life?

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller has been telling his story for more than a decade, now he wants to help you tell yours. He’s helped over 1,000 companies clarify their message through the StoryBrand Workshops. For an introduction to what he’s doing now, check out the 5 Minute Marketing Makeover.

  • Honestly, I think my higher power is me, because I’ve never trusted God to be a kind director.

    • That’s too bad. He’s the kindest there ever was.

    • Bill

      yes, you will be waiting an long time for God to direct a sceen in your life best to direct your own life

    • Amy

      Lee Ann, I totally get you. I totally understand what you’re saying. the God I knew wasn’t a loving, kind, gentle director at all. I dealt with abuse, addiction, and trouble all of my life. But in 2010, God opened my heart and my mind and… I just want you to know that He loves you, baby. He’s the father I never had, the great forgiver, and the amazing healer. He wants you beloved. He wants your heart. check out http://www.elevationnetwork.com.

  • What a great reminder that God has all of this in His hands. That I don’t have to “get it all,” but lean on the one who does!

  • Laura

    Interesting thought for the day…

  • I took that same pic at SXSW. Since I went to the premier, I kinda thought I wouldn’t take Thursday off and go to the Austin screening, but I people watched so much, I think I need to actually go again so I can take in more of the movie. I’m a sucker for people watching (aka staring), and Austin during SXSW is the people watcher’s heaven. Loved the movie, but I need to see it again to take it all in.

    Blog answer – God has taught me more over this passed 3 years about letting go…that if I stop directing my life and show up ready to live it, I don’t just have more peace but I get to be amazed at what He does in it. For the majority of my life, I tried to direct and create the scenes and the perfect Pottery Barn picture. And, well, it sucked. I wasn’t made to do all of that. All I was able to do was make some 2 dimensional life that had no depth, no authenticity, and no lasting power.

    The end result was, I was fired. I was fired from many a thing, but God took me in. He told me I had a part to play…but each day, I must remember it is just a part…a great part, but I’m not running the show. More often than not, I find myself in the dressing room with the name plate, “Girl who thinks the world revolves around her and she needs her water bottled and her Starbucks fresh.” I typically have to be manhandled to be put back in my place…which isn’t always a bad thing, these days. 😉

    Great reminders. Thanks!

  • Amy

    I am beginning to understand – and trust – God’s role in my life more and more, though it is hard for me to release my illusion of control.

  • Dale King

    I desperately need a director, one that I trust completely. I have found this director in God. For example, this week I was faced with a request from someone close to me, which, if I agreed, would have the potential to harm my family financially. Yet, part of me wanted to grant the request. As I described my conflict to God in prayer I heard him say, “You can help this person. I will protect you.” This is only one of many examples of God’s beneficial direction in my life. I hope that I never go back to directing myself.

  • Theresa

    It’s important that the cast and crew trust the director. I’m learning to trust the Lord, my director, during these days of unemployment and limited resources. It’s good to know he knows my story and cares about how it ends.

  • Alise

    This is really great! I am (hopefully) going to remember this analogy when talking to others about Jesus. To the person who said she (? can’t remember after reading all of the other comments) has not found God to be a kind director, I would just encourage you to try Jesus again. Obviously, I don’t know why you feel that way. Is it because of what you have been taught about God? Because of things that have happened to you in your life? I will pray for you, that God’s love will be revealed to you in a new way. I hope that didn’t sound condescending. 🙂

    And Don, you look very handsome up there. I don’t want to take away from the seriousness of the topic, but just wanted to let you know that you look very nice. 🙂 I hope the movie will come to my area! God bless to all.

  • Sounds like Steve has a wonderful director himself. Who else could teach him to be such an incredible one? Jesus is definitely my director. I love every day, even the really hard ones, with Him as my lead, though there is always much to learn!

  • Joyce

    Jesus is the Master Designer and we are the characters. Behind the scenes is where we to do the hard work.
    I do not believe it is possible to tell a better story without Christ. It does not matter who you are or where you came from if we hand our lives over to Him, we will become His story!

  • This is my hope! That the director of my life (God) has a much better perspective on things than I do (and that those I have been wronged by will “get” it in the end 🙂 just being honest!). Amy

  • Kathy Heavner

    just wanted to tell you, you’re looking good these days.
    Many blessings to you and all of those around you

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  • Interesting thoughts. I couldn’t help but think of the show How I Met Your Mother. The episodes are often all over the place, reconnecting with something in the past or giving a peak into the future. It makes the show so much more interesting and connected with the characters. I think what you are saying is so true. Often our story doesn’t make sense to us because we are not the director. We only see our side of the story {a bit selfish, eh?}. Good thoughts to ponder.

  • I contributed a very small amount to support Blue Like Jazz and Steve phoned me personally to thank me. He even remembered that I live in the UK and respected the time zone accordingly. Although a phone call was promised I honestly didn’t expect or even require it – but he did it anyway, and he even knew my name. Top guy, and good leader.

    Agree on the main point too – we all need a director in our lives and it can’t be another human being either, because human beings aren’t capable of doing that with everyone else, we’re not above it all and don’t have the divine perspective.

    Thanks for sharing this Don, much needed.