I wrote this post back in April of 2010 and I think it is just as relevant and important now, particularly since social media has made it so much easier to expose your gifts and services to the world.
Just recently I was contacted by the leadership of two separate and unrelated major organizations concerning organizational development and/or ministry outreach services that my company might be able to provide. What I noticed about all of the varying levels of leadership with whom I interacted is that they were very serious about their organizations, their operations, and their needs. I also noticed that the extent to which they took my skills and my business seriously depended greatly upon how seriously I presented them.
In some cases I find that I have been recommended by a colleague or friend in business or ministry. While I appreciate the grace to have built a solid reputation, I do often run into situations where initially I am perceived as a "girl" with a skill rather than a young woman representing a brand and a legitimate business. I liken it to the difference between a "guy" who can build you a deck and a legitimate deck company like Longefence. It's highly unlikely that you are going to haggle prices with Longfence or expect them to give you something for nothing.
Because of my youthful appearance and likable personality, sometimes people are mistakenly under the assumption that I am in the business of doing favors in return for throwing a little "love offering" my way. However just as salvation is free but the anointing costs in pain and experience, I will minister to you for free but the benefit of my Masters in Organizational Communication and my years of OD experience come at an hourly rate (and it's not cheap). In fact my mentor recently told me that my hourly rate was too low! In some cases, people are surprised to be presented with a professional portfolio detailing KerygmaWord's services accompanied by a contract. Yet they themselves would be appalled by the thought of anyone expecting them to render services without payment or treating them as anything less than a legitimate organization.
As I was preparing for one meeting in particular, I struggled because the emotional side of me wanted to cut this individual a break thereby practically giving away my services. Thankfully Husband reminded me that what you don't pay for, you don't value. This is so true and we see it all the time. Don't you take better care of the expensive designer sunglasses you purchased from Nordstrom or Neiman's that came in a case than you do the cheap shades you bought from the mall kiosk that came in a plastic bag? I know I do. In that discussion, Husband also raised another significant question- "Why are you so quick to place value on the gifts of others and not your own?" Huh, good question.
Today I'm asking you that same question. Are you placing the right value on your gifts? Are you branding and packaging your gifts so that they will be respected and appreciated? Are you positioning yourself and your gifts to be taken seriously or are you setting yourself up to be used up and discarded as soon as your user can afford "a real professional"? Every month my student loan statement arrives in the mail and I am reminded that I spent thousands of dollars to know what I know and to be able to do what I do. Then there are some other gifts that are innate, but no less valuable. Whether you spent many years and dollars developing your gift or God graced you with your gift from birth, your expertise is precious and not to be taken for granted. It's okay to use your gift to bless and be a blessing to others, but be clear about how much of your gift God wants you to give away in exchange for little or no compensation. Make that clear to others, be personable yet professional, and handle your business!