Have you ever heard someone talking and it sounds like they’re just stringing quotes together? It’s pretty obvious. Nothing sounds original. You almost want to put air quotes on either side of them to set the right context for what they’re saying.

I’ve been “the quoter” before. For the record, there’s nothing wrong with quoting someone else. It’s more valuable though that I can articulate my own reaction to what a quote means. If I’m just using quotes to sound smart, then I’ve missed the whole point.

With so much verbal noise today, it’s tempting to just parrot back different trendy quotes or ideas. If I was meant to be a parrot, I’d have wings and feathers. Whenever I do that, I miss the most important part: why did those quotes strike me in the first place? It’s my responsibility to figure out where I stand with ideas I engage, even if I ultimately realize, “I don’t know how I feel about that.”

There’s a massive conversation going on about God and faith and the Bible and church and culture. And we get to be a part of that conversation.

In that conversation though, we each have a responsibility: be a voice, not a parrot.

You don’t have to be a super genius, or even be absolutely certain what you believe about other opinions and ideas… but you do have to be yourself. You may not be the most recognized, smartest, most educated philosopher of today (it’s okay, I’m not either!), but you get to share your unique perspective on other people’s ideas.

We don’t need the next Albert Einstein or Plato or Thomas Edison; we need the first you. Share your ideas. Share your perspective. In your own way and to the best of your own ability, know what you believe and why. Have your own voice.

And don’t be a parrot. Parrots are noisy. Parrots say what people train them to say. You were made for more than just a pretty bird; you’re made in the image of God capable of original critique and thought.

Be a voice, not a parrot.