By Rachel E. Newman
What do you think of when you hear the word professional? Does it conjure the image of a self-made man or woman? Someone who has it all together and never falls short of his or her goals? If this is the image you have in mind, you may have trouble seeing yourself as a professional. You might have problems charging the rate of a professional. And you may have issues displaying professionalism.
Professionals are people, too.
And yes, we expect professionals to conform to the ethical standards of our industry, exhibit a courteous and conscientious attitude, and generally conduct themselves in a businesslike manner. But these traits don’t show up on their own. You can’t give what you don’t have. And you can’t get it without having others in your life.
My pastor recently preached a message about community. He said, after all his years of studying God’s Word and walking with the Lord, he’s realized that community isn’t just part of a church, the church is community. People who try to do life on their own, just them and Jesus, are not living life as part of the church. You can get to heaven with just you and Jesus, but you’re going to have a whole lot more trouble getting there. God intended us to live in community. And this is just as true in our professional lives as it is in our personal lives.
Within the support of a community, we find strength, comfort, knowledge, accountability, and even discipline. Freelancing isn’t an easy endeavor. We can’t always clock out at the end of the day and leave our work at work. Sometimes the business end of what we do can seem overwhelming, and we might be tempted to take shortcuts. It’s during those times we can turn to our support system. We can learn new things and better ways to handle our affairs. With knowledge comes confidence. We can gain courage and wisdom from those who have been where we are. With courage comes boldness to do what must be done. And we can give generously to those who are in need. With giving comes blessing and fulfillment.
A professional is not someone who has arrived on their own. Instead, he or she is someone who is journeying alongside a host of others who hold them up. If you haven’t found your professional community yet, I’d like to invite you to join The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network. This body of online community bolsters itself with grace and sharpens itself like iron on iron. It’s been an essential companion in the journey of this professional. And once a year, we get a chance to meet in person and turn those digital hugs into physical hugs at PENCON, the only professional conference for editors in the Christian market.
When you feel like you’re falling short and you’re tempted to treat your business like a hobby just because it’s so difficult, look in the mirror and remind yourself that all professionals face this moment. And then go find them and be a support for each other.
Rachel E. Newman holds a BS degree from Northeastern State University in Oklahoma. She is a Gold Member of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network, serves as a judge for the Excellence in Editing Award sponsored by the Christian Editor Connection, and has served as a faculty member for PENCON, the only convention for editors in the Christian market. Rachel enjoys, among other things, dates with her husband, swing dancing, reading, teaching, discussing important issues, watching Star Trek, sewing, cooking, Pilates, horseback riding, water sports, playing guitar, and snow skiing.