I used to really like Jon Acuff. I stumbled across his Stuff Christians Like blog a few years ago during a season of my life when I was feeling pretty lost spiritually, and Acuff struck me as something of a kindred spirit. He was a Christian like me, but he was still able to step back and realize the ridiculousness in a lot of the things we do. In short, he seemed like a fairly regular dude.
Then things began to change. Acuff wrote a book with the same name as the blog, and his posts began to shrink in length. It became difficult to separate Stuff Christians Like the blog from Stuff Christians Like the book advertisement. Even worse, Acuff began to write more and more about “haters,” which I eventually realized were people who didn’t see things the way he did. All of that paled in comparison, though, to the changes that came once Acuff got a job with Dave Ramsey’s organization. He suddenly went from a relatable everyman to some kind of motivational guru, writing books about fulfilling your dreams and converting his blog to follow suit.
I pretty much stopped following Acuff altogether, so I nearly managed to miss the news that he had somewhat abruptly resigned from his dream job with Ramsey in late September. Of course, the supreme irony of the situation is that Acuff had written a book (still advertised on Ramsey’s website) titled Quitter, which is all about pursuing your dream job. No one seems to really know why Acuff did this, and the only response issued from Ramsey’s camp was one of surprise. The Stuff Christians Like blog seems to have disappeared for the moment, although Acuff continues to tweet like a madman about, well, basically nothing of much substance and has a new blog at acuff.me.
It’s a difficult tightrope to walk when you set out to help others by setting yourself up as an authority on something. Whatever his reasons for quitting may have been, Acuff couldn’t have been ignorant of (and I hate to repeat the word) the irony of his actions. The guy who was telling everyone else how to get their dream job just quit his. This is like catching Richard Simmons loading up plates and chowing down at the local Ryan’s Steakhouse. The reality doesn’t seem to match the ideology. It was a reality Acuff set up, though.
I’ve written a few posts on here about depression, and I received a lot of response from those. So much so that I considered just turning this into “the depression blog,” where that’s all that was discussed. I didn’t want to just go online and complain, though, so I found myself trying to drop in little encouraging tidbits here and there. People seemed to like it. Forget the blog; I was beginning to feel like “the depression guy,” someone who could become something of an inspirational voice for others.
And then my plan sort of went sideways. I had a couple of weeks where I didn’t feel particularly inspiring. Some of the bright and happy nuggets I had thrown out earlier didn’t seem to be working quite as well, to the point where I wondered if I had actually meant some of them. Maybe becoming “the depression guy” wasn’t such a good idea after all. Maybe being plain old, ordinary me would be a better idea.
The book of James in the Bible wisely advises, “Not many of you should become teachers … for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” I don’t know what happened with Jon Acuff, but my suspicion is that maybe his dream job turned out to not be his dream job. Since he had already built his persona on achieving the dream, though, his backing out became nearly as awkward as his entry in. It has become my realization that setting yourself up as “the anything guy” bears a huge burden, because you’ve got to be that guy all the time. You’re not allowed to have doubts, bad days, or changes of heart; you have to be perfect.
So, in effect, I’m quitting on the dream of becoming the next great voice for those suffering from depression. Most days, I don’t know any more than you do. I may have a helpful bit of advice to toss out every now and then, but by and large I’m just going to be me. I am not perfect, but everyone with a mega-successful blog or talk show isn’t either. We’re all going to quit on something someday. Question is, will we have left ourselves enough room to do it?