“I worked hard to learn what I know. How much of it should I give away for free?”
That’s a question that comes up from time to time, and a reader asked this recently. It usually comes from those who work professionally in production outside the church, or have done so. The professionals either contract to a church or volunteer. Either way, they struggle with how much information, skills or other “secret knowledge” they should give away to other non-professional volunteers at the churches they serve.
My answer to this question is simple, though it may not be easy. How much do you give away?
All of it.
The Most Successful People are Givers
I have had the privilege to meet many successful live production professionals in my career, and my friends have met many more. In almost every case, these professionals—many of whom are at the top of their game—will gladly share just about anything they know.
While I don’t know this for sure, I suspect the reason for this is that someone gave them a lot of help once upon a time. And when someone takes the time to give you a leg up, you want to do the same for others. Successful people realize that one of the best ways to get ahead is to help others. If you are a professional who volunteers or contracts to a church on the weekends, you lose nothing by helping them all you can.
Successful People Are Not Afraid
If you are good at what you do, you are typically not afraid of helping someone get better. This is because simply sharing knowledge with someone else doesn’t make them you. I could impart all the knowledge I’ve gained about mixing over the last 25 years to a volunteer at my church. But they still wouldn’t mix the way I do. Hopefully they would be better than they were before, but nothing replaces experience.
I will share show files, mic’ing techniques, EQ tricks and FX processes. Heck, I write about most of those things here. Yet even with all that sharing, I’ve never gone hungry, and my standing in our industry has only grown as I’ve given away all I know. I don’t worry about volunteers getting better than me; I hope they do. The need for great technical artists is so vast that it would take many lifetimes for us to all work ourselves out of a job.
As a professional, it is the way you put that knowledge to use that makes you good. Simply knowing how to do something is different from being able to do it well. Your value doesn’t go down when you share knowledge; it goes up.
What I Don’t Mean
I want to be clear that I’m not talking about churches that need to hire professionals for a project. Consultants, designers, integrators, system tuners and the like need to make a living and should be paid for what they do. Churches should not expect those services to be given away for free. Smart churches do well to hire competent professionals to do things they don’t have the expertise to do in-house.
I’m talking about the individual who serves at his church on the weekends in a technical role. That role can be paid or volunteer. The Kingdom is so much bigger than you can imagine and you will win more friends and influence more people if you help others along the way.