Coming back from a social media break, it seems to me that half my feed is made up of quote cards, inspirational prompts and generic posts from life coaches on a mission.

Some of what is being shared is really good, the light-packed words of some brilliant soul quoted back to us from eternity. But often it’s just really … uninteresting.

Not because the words are not true, but because they seem completely disconnected from the person who’s sharing them. She’s just borrowing and repeating someone else’s hard-earned wisdom, and it may still be wisdom but we’ve all read it a million times by now and the only thing that could make it mean something again would be HER take on that wisdom.

It’s easy to throw around the big words and concepts, the ones everyone has agreed on as wise. It’s a safe place to hide. But please dare a little. Show us something of yourself; not just the concepts you believe in, but your stumbling attempts at living them.

And for the love of God, don’t try to teach us before you’ve even gotten your hands dirty.

I knew a lot as a sixteen year old. I read books by spiritual masters and I recognised a lot of what was in there as truth. But at that point it was theoretical insight, glimpses of truth that I recognised as real but that I was very far from living.

I could have preached those unlived truths, and I probably did at times (those poor bastards I was dating …) But there wouldn’t have been any power in my words because I had not earned my right to speak them. I had not LIVED them. I had not even begun to overbridge the massive gap between those airy concepts and my day-to-day life. I was not even wise enough to realize there was a gap I needed to bridge.

When it comes to spiritual leadership – or any kind of leadership, really – we have to earn our stripes. No short cuts, no master classes will grant us the authority that can only come from living our way to the big truths.

Because living our way to understanding, to humility, to discernment and eventually to wisdom is what this human life is about. That’s the journey, and that’s truly all we have to report about.

That’s why purely ”inspirational” writing rarely moves me anymore. Because it’s just theory.

”We are all love” means very little to me until it’s grounded and connected to the human experience. Until it’s told through the day-to-day struggles and victories of a fellow human being.

I’ve lost my patience with abstractions and sweeping general wording. I want it sharp, to the point, grit and gut and straight from the heart. I want story, my story, your story. The human story.

Preach that and I’ll listen.

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