“You should charge for that!”
“You really just share all that for free?”
“You could start a business!”
I’ve heard it all before. The surprised gratitude when someone asks me a question and I answer freely. Or when I stop to take the time to chat with someone at a conference and they see the passion in my eyes as we talk about community building and social media. It hasn’t always been this way for me.
In fact, when I worked a more typical corporate lifestyle, I was selfish with my knowledge. I took in everything I could – I attended classes, earned degrees, watched webinars, and only used the information I learned when it was beneficial to my career advancement. If I taught someone else what I knew, I assumed that made me replaceable.
What it made me was selfish, bitter, a little paranoid, and unhappy.
It was one of many idols God asked me to lay down when that door closed. All the knowledge He’d given me, all the opportunities, He was asking me to share freely. To give back where others had helped me. As a blogger, I learned so much of what I do from others who had gone before and willingly shared best practices and “what not to do.” As a community builder I’d been invited in, welcomed, and encouraged – and God has asked me to do the same. When I began my work as a virtual assistant, I had experienced VAs come alongside me to offer advice without fear of competition, and it’s created in me a heart to pay it forward.
And when it comes to combining my loves of community, social media, and encouraging others? I now work a 9-5 (ish) job that fills my heart, my mind, and also comes with a paycheck – and a desire to teach, equip, encourage and inspire others. I love when women ask me questions about my job, how I do what I do, what tools I use, and how they can get started. Where I experienced the bitterness of hoarding knowledge, God has redeemed it with the freedom that comes with teaching and watching someone else succeed. Every task I’d done in that previous job prepared me for where I am now – in ways that only God could have planned – and now I give it away, because He so gracious gave to me.
It’s not about community or competition, social media or selfishness. It’s a call on my life to be a good steward of everything God has given me in my life – and when it comes giving back to others because of what I’ve learned? Well..I just can’t charge for that.
I’m linking up with the High Calling this week as we chat about “working for free.”