I'm packing my suitcase tonight. I'll pack my laptop and load up my attache with papers tomorrow, but I'm definitely leaving. Outta here. Sayonara. Driving far away.
No, I'm not running away from home. But I am leaving for nearly a week to attend a writers conference. Sometimes I attend conferences for learning, but this time I'll be speaking to writers in classroom sessions, meeting with conferees in one-on-one appointments, and praying with those who need encouragement. I'll be giving back to other writers in the same way many other writers have given back so that I could learn.
I think of the conferences I've attended and the faculty members who have stayed up late at night to critique my work. I think of the time they gave up to come to a conference--precious writing time that it cost them. I think of the ratio of time invested to money earned and I know they came up short on the earning end. Yet they did it because they wanted to give back to other writers.
Many well-known authors give back to beginning writers. They mentor. They teach at conferences. They spend time on online writers groups to give advice and wise counsel. Their generosity is what keeps me going as I put in the hours of preparation needed for this conference. Because of them, I've learned so much about writing and I want to carry on their spirit of generosity, like a pay it forward plan.
I said I'm not attending to learn. But maybe I am. Maybe I just didn't know that giving back is a part of the learning process. I've already learned something about myself in the preparation. I can't wait to see what God plans to teach me when I'm at the conference.
Think of the things you love to do. Are you giving back to others? Are you teaching someone else how to do what you do? Maybe you mentor someone or give your time to teach Sunday School. Maybe you've taught someone how to bake bread and make jam. Perhaps you've spent time with someone who desperately needs a friend.
Wherever you are in your own learning process, you can give back to someone who is at a different point in their own process. What can you do right now that would help someone else? You'll make a pay it forward investment when you give back to someone else.