Chances are, we’ve never met. We’ve never hung out or read comic books together or played racquetball. (Which Brian Regan calls the only sport in which you can be looking at the ball and get hit in the back of the head at exactly the same moment.)
But despite that, I do know at least one thing about you. I know that at some point, you’ve doubted that you had the talent to do whatever it is you feel called to do. Even if you don’t have a shadow of a doubt that you’re supposed to be doing what ever your “it” is, doubt creeps in. And so you don’t feel talented enough to be the one doing it.
I get that. I feel that a lot too. I keep feeling like I’ve snuck into a party full of adults with the Stuff Christians Like book. Like maybe I should be sitting at the kid’s table and will eventually get kicked out. I don’t feel talented enough or smart enough to go speak places, but I’ve learned something recently and it’s pretty simple, but I believe it’s true. Here it is:
“Honesty is more important than talent.”
That doesn’t seem right. That feels counter intuitive, but let’s unpack that. (Didn’t I sound like a Christian counselor there for a minute? They’re always unpacking things.)
Here’s what I believe, in the last 20 years, we’ve been exposed to more talent than in the history of mankind. Thanks to the Internet and our global connectedness, we know about more talent than we’ve ever known about before.
Twenty years ago, do you know where your favorite band from MySpace was playing music? In their garage. You didn’t know about them.
Twenty years ago, do you know where your favorite director you found on Youtube or Funny or Die was showing films? In his living room. You didn’t know about him.
Twenty years ago, do you know where your favorite blog writer was writing? In her diary on her nightstand. You didn’t know about her.
But now, we’ve got more access and more exposure to more talented people than ever before. No one would say that about honesty though. No one would claim that in the last 20 years our culture has gotten more honest. Consequently, the talent pool is really full and the honesty pool is really empty.
So if you want to stand out. If you want to do something big and bold and important, we all need to start focusing on honesty more than talent. And when you do, when you actually explore honesty, crazy things happen.
That’s how Stuff Christians Like evolved. Let’s be honest, at first it was just a silly rip off of Christian Lander’s site, “Stuff White People Like.” I was being sarcastic and silly and that was enough. But then I wrote a post titled, “Stuff Christians Like: Being slightly less nice than Mormons.” It wasn’t anything special or particularly talented. It was just 129 words about how I’d never met a rude Mormon but I knew plenty of jerk Christians. And I’d been a jerk Christian. So I argued that for some people, Christianity is like a bully learning a new form of karate, it’s just one more way for me to beat you up.
The second comment on the post, changed the aim of this entire site:
“These posts are so honest it’s stunning. I wish every religious person I knew approached life with this attitude. It’s unflinchingly Christian but not arrogant, and #62 gives incredible insight as to why. It takes a humanist approach to God, which is what Christ is anyway. No offense to anyone reading this, but if I weren’t an atheist, I’d strive to be this kind of Christian.”
All I did was be honest. All I did was share a few sentences that I felt like were true.
I asked Seth Godin, a business writer about the idea that honesty was more important than talent and he agreed. But then, because he’s brilliant, he quickly said that having both beats having just one. I think that’s true, but I don’t think you need to worry about talent as much as you do. You’ve got plenty of talent.
Honesty is going to matter more. I promise.