If you are like me you probably struggle at times with the thought that you don’t really have much to offer the world. You don’t have a unique idea. You don’t have a book waiting to be birthed. You don’t have some unique world changing thought or some ingenious idea that will make everyone’s life better. Instead you’ve got thoughts and ideas that mostly originated with someone else that have impacted you in some great way. It’s a song that someone else wrote. A poem from the 18th century that makes your heart soar. A sermon someone else taught. A leadership lesson that originated with John Maxwell (don’t they all?).
And so you probably do one of two things.
You fake it. You pretend you invented it and pass it off as yours. I think of the scene in “Good Will Hunting” where the guy in the bar is trying to impress people with his opinions, until Matt Damon’s character cuts him off and finishes the quote for him – showing everyone present that the guy was really spouting off someone else’s thoughts. (“How do you like them apples?”)
The other thing we often do is just to remain silent. Since we have nothing new to offer, we simply shut up. While there’s certainly wisdom in listening, learning, and asking questions – I think there’s a danger here as well. The danger is that we start to believe our voice doesn’t matter.
I’ve been learning a valuable lesson lately. While lots of people have probably said the thing I’m thinking – I’ve never said it. It’s never come through my mouth. It’s never been filtered through my life and my experiences. It’s never been brought into my context. And that is a valuable thing.
My job isn’t to be original. After all, the bible says there is “nothing new under the sun.” My job is to add value to people around me. It’s not my job to fill someone else’s cup, but simply to empty mine into theirs (that idea and imagery is itself unoriginal – it comes from Andy Stanley, of course).
You and I have SO MUCH to offer the people around us. God has given you knowledge and skill and the ability to learn new things. How are you passing that along? How are you adding value to the people around you? Don’t sit around and wait for some original thought before you offer what you have to the world. Teach, coach, mentor, develop someone, pass along a book. In doing so, you just might find your own voice.