I live in a world of 22-year-olds.
I’ve had three of them give me Snapchat tutorials. I still don’t get it.
Facebook was born my senior year of college (2005).
In my social media life, Myspace has come and gone… RIP.
Instagram/Twitter/Vine/Periscope/Skype/YouTube/Pinterest/etc. are everywhere. Everywhere.
This new social world has created a certain type of person. Let's lovingly call him/her: A 22-year-old, optimistic, bright eyed, world changing, hashtag adventure seeking storytelling hippie meets hipster with a camera.
I love it. Really I do. I believe in them. Our future needs them. I follow them online.
But in this overly connected “social world”, there’s an interesting trend I see.
This idea of “spreading good” is being spread everywhere. Which seems good. Right?
Being a “Storyteller” is a pursued profession. Also good. Right? Everyone loves stories.
To overstate the trend: Being a good storyteller, spreading good all over the world, is the life so many twenty-somethings want. Which is great, right?
The difficulty is answering, “What is good?” and “What is your story pointing to?”
Because good is never good enough, and stories solely about you will always leave us unsatisfied.
I’ve heard it joked about that the generation before us had to do something before they wrote a book. Our generation wants to write a book before we do anything.
I’m certainly guilty of this. I wrote and self-published a memoir before I was 30. (Don’t judge me!) But now I ask myself, does anyone really do or know anything worth writing about before they are 35? Or 40?
Tim Keller can write a book every 6 months because his life is full of content. He’s done some things, read some things, been through stuff, bled, and survived to tell us. He’s overflowing. He’s also 65.
My fear for us is that we have a passion for spreading good stories while living a life void of content. All hype, no heart. All me, no we.
So, if you’re an aspiring “good-spreading storyteller” or a “hippie/hipster with a camera and a dream” I likely follow you. Could you do me these four favors?
1. TELL ME THEIR STORY, NOT JUST YOURS.
Have you ever been to a wedding where the best man or maid of honor made their reception speech all about themselves? They barely mention the bride or groom, and when they do, it’s always in connection to how awesome they are.
Those speeches are self-serving, self-seeking, and dishonoring. They bum everyone out.
Then there are those who honor and capture the essence of a person by letting their voice simply serve and elevate.
I’d love to hear your voice talking about someone else. Not just your voice using others to talk about you.
In the end, no one is really following YOU, they are following YOUR WORLDVIEW… Show me the world through your eyes. Don’t just show me you.
2. HAVE A REAL COMMUNITY, NOT JUST AN ONLINE ONE.
Real people need to know you. Real people, like the kind who can come over and knock on your door if you're MIA for a while. You need friends who would never post on your Instagram because they see you every day and will tell you in person what they think.
You also need realism. Social networking isn’t real. People are real. Real people, really knowing and loving and celebrating and correcting you is what life is all about.
Sound bites from around the world from people you don’t know isn’t a life that lasts.
It’s fickle and frail. It takes a real community to have real stories of substance.
An “online community” is an oxymoron. I’m not saying it doesn’t help for a season, or that there’s no benefit at all, I’m just saying it won’t be there for you when life comes crashing down.
A comment section can’t give you a hug. Can’t cry with you.
Emoji’s won’t come over and pray with you.
3. DON’T SEEK THE PAYOFF AND SKIP THE PROCESS.
Be patient. Slow down. Be where you are. Enjoy the ride. Having an audience is a gift. Leadership in one words is: influence. But this takes time.
As I get older, I realize the process is the payoff. The time it took to develop my voice and the experience I gained, and having my grit tested was all just as beautiful as the product.
I know you want it all right now, and your identity is too closely tied to those “likes”, but your time will come. Stay faithful to your worldview and perspective. Win us over one day at a time.
In the end, build a life we want to follow. Give yourself to something and become an expert, and we will look to you to teach us when the time comes. But that likely won’t be tomorrow.
4. KNOW THE LIMITS OF YOUR GOOD.
If you are a twenty-something Christian then at some point, if I follow you, it would be nice to hear about that. Good is not good enough. Your life is not about spreading good, it’s about spreading Good News.
So… for my fourth favor, I’m going to go Jesus on you. Unapologetically Jesus.
We have to ask: Is it ok to spread a good that ends in this world, without ever offering the everlasting good that Jesus provides?
If you leave Christ out of your cause, is the cause still worth pursing?
If I’m married and you never hear about my wife, wouldn’t that be bizarre? If you follow Jesus and never talk about Him, that doesn’t seem to make sense.
Good spreading storytellers, thank you for enriching our lives. It’s a joy to follow along, but since we’re following you, lead us somewhere, namely, towards the Good News of Jesus and the greatest story ever told.