Pearl of Wisdom:
“The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.”
– Proverbs 27:18
THIS PEARL OF WISDOM reinforces a key piece of advice I have given to clients and friends starting a new endeavor: Seek first to serve before expecting anything in return. In fact I would go so far as to say don’t even request the first fruit from your labor until it falls into your lap. Examine how you can be of service to potential clients, constituents and even potential mentors before you ask for anything in return, even compensation for work already completed.
So many times I find those who are new to business hungry to make their first dollar, anxious to see an immediate return from their efforts. But people and perhaps even fig trees (as in the proverb) can sense when they are being eyed for their returns, almost forced to give before they feel good and ready. Living in this world, people have come to expect this dynamic, but they do not appreciate it. And it does not engender the kind of trust that is abundantly rewarded.
In farming as in life, those looking for a quick harvest will often pluck fruit before it fully ripens.
On the contrary those who seek first to serve, those who guard the interests of another, are so unexpected and so appreciated that a harvest will be handed to them as surely as fruit from a tree which has been carefully tended.
Insight to Action
Does this wisdom rub you the wrong way? Perhaps you should examine why you have undertaken your new endeavor in the first place. Did it seem like easy pickings? Or did your motivation come from a calling on your life? Did a tantalizing opportunity present itself before your hungry eyes, or was it planted deep in your heart, part of God’s divine purpose for your life?
If it was the former, you will be quick to force a harvest and risk losing everything, but most especially the type of abundance that comes from patient and faithful cultivation.
Perhaps the thought of patiently waiting for people to offer payment creates a sense of fear for you. What if no one ever pays and you are forced to quit on your dream? To this I would respond with an assurance that God’s economy is driven by a principle of reciprocity. When you give with reckless abandon the gifts that God has freely given you, the recipients of your labor will eventually feel compelled to give back.
With this in mind, what new endeavor are you considering at the moment? Are you worried about what to charge, nervous about what people are willing to pay? Try giving it away for free. You will find the recipients will be both surprised and delighted. They will also be less critical of your novice efforts. Plus your generosity will almost certainly be the topic of their conversations with others, generating the type of goodwill that money could never buy.
I’d love to hear from you. What objections rise up within you at the thought of offering your labor as a free gift? Let’s discuss them in the comments below. Then I challenge you to push through those objections, experiment with this principle and report back your findings.