Whether we admit it or not, we have a tendency to favor dramatic flare over unembellished realism. Take for example the founding of YouTube. Articles such as this one from the Telegraph, paints a picture back in 2005 of Steve Chen inviting Chad Hurley and their colleague Jawad Karim over to a dinner party where they shot several videos over the course of the night. When the trio attempted to upload the videos to share with other friends, they stumbled across a profound lack of places on the emerging web to do such a thing. The ability to capture videos on personal devices such as smart phones was emerging and the World Wide Web had not caught up with the technology. Thus, the trio registered the domain of YouTube.com and were an overnight success.
While charming, the story is completely fabricated. There was no dinner party. Chen, Hurley and Karim had worked at Paypal before attempting to start a dating site similar to Hot or Not that hosted videos in addition to pictures. The website failed to gain interest, but the idea remained on the table. After the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Janet Jackson’s unfortunate wardrobe malfunction in 2004, the 3 friends were inspired to create a website that could host videos captured on personal devices and share them world wide. After an $11.5 Million investment from Sequoia Capital, they were able to turn the website into an “overnight” success.
As readers, we identify with the popularized version of the story of three friends who struggled and through their creativity pioneered a new form of technology that would make them successful. The romanticism wears off when you realize they were already quiet successful from their Paypal ventures. Why is that the value of creating a phenomenal website regardless of their economic status not good enough?
The same is true with our testimonies. Within the evangelical circles, we tend to favor the recovered alcoholics and druggies over those who have practically been Christians their entire lives. Our focus shifts from the value of Christ redeeming us to the embellishments of our personal stories. As if to say that the power of grace in a person’s life is proportionate to the struggles they’ve experienced or the obstacles they’ve overcome.
Moving forward, I would like to focus on the incredible works of Christ in a person’s life, rather than the rubbish that clouds the story. I don’t want society’s world view to influence my perspective of God’s work in and through us.