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What Gives You the Right to Be Heard? And Our Fascination With Going Viral Instead of Being Alive

Whenever a blogger is telling me to do something, I want to know: “What gives you the right to teach something? What do you do? What have you done? Why should I listen? Are you just blogging to blog at me?”

I get the suspicion that some bloggers are only telling people what they’re not really doing themselves. I’ve been guilty of the same thing. Maybe it’s a vicarious self-punishment. Maybe it’s to look hard. Mostly though, I sense it’s just to go viral, because everyone eats that up. We always want to know the Top 12 Things to Do Before We’re 22. We love those quotes from books we’ve never read that stir our guts for a few seconds. We love the insider secrets and pseudo-religious feelings of inspiration and guilt. So most bloggers are barely stitched up collections of quotes and inspirational zingers, like a literary Frankenstein with zero soul.

I’m sorry to sound so harsh: But those quotes weren’t written just to quote, you know. Great people wrote them to move us into greatness.

I see too many young-ish bloggers trying to go viral just by blogging. It’s a bit Kardashian-esque, like being famous for being famous. I don’t mean that blogging young is wrong. It’s great if you go viral with your words. But when the fancy articulation is over, I hope you actually care about people.

I want to know that you’re looking out for my best.
I want to know you have credibility.
I want to know you love real people’s stories and not your own glory.
I want to know you’re actually living out your blog.
And most of all, I’m preaching this to myself. I hope you’re preaching it to you, too.

I just hope we’re not preaching something that we’re not at least trying to do ourselves. We don’t need another soap-box slinger or armchair critic. It’s cool you like philosophy or theology or culture. It’s cool you got a way with poetry. But unless you’re knee-deep with the homeless and addicts and exiles and beat-up strugglers, I don’t want your eloquent pretty words. I don’t care how much you care. Your blog doesn’t reach me here in the dirt, in my hurt. I need a hand up. I need your passion more than your feelings. And I want to be that for you, too. I just want to be the real thing.

A few years ago, I did one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I don’t say that to brag. I say that because I’m obnoxiously selfish; I was going against my own nature. It was extremely difficult and I nearly quit multiple times. It wasn’t some glamorous made-for-TV story. I didn’t write a cute daily blog about how it was going. When I finished, I hardly got any attention at all.

But the only thing I knew was that I was doing something real. I finally wasn’t all talk. I was walking the dang walk. I was for the first time, and perhaps the only time, really alive. Life made sense: that we are truly living when we’re giving our life away, not when we merely talk about it. It’s when we’re actually just about it. And now I actually had something to say. I’m not saying you need to go drastic. I’m saying, Go anywhere. I have failed at this much more than succeeded, but that’s how it works. Even failure takes more than tapping text into a screen.

I don’t want you to hear my words. I want you to hear my life. And even then, don’t trust me. Discern every word you read with the utmost deliberate care. If I have earned your right to be heard, it is then my highest honor and the most humbling place to be. It’s an amazing, overwhelming, emotional event when anyone would read our words, and I hope we never get over it.

Another thing happens here, right below the surface. Blogging automatically necessitates that you must pause life in order to talk about life.

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Former atheist/agnostic, fifth degree black belt, recovered porn addict, and youth pastor in Tampa, FL. B.A. in Psychology from USF and a MDiv from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Have a German shepherd named Rosco, can eat five lbs. of steak in one sitting, and gave away half my salary this year to fight human trafficking. I blog regularly on my main site and my Tumblr for struggling Christians.