As a entrepreneur in the creative space and as an author, plagiarism is something I deal with on a daily basis. Yes, even though 98% of what I put out there would have to be stolen by another person who claims Christ, it’s still an issue.
Now, I refuse to live my life in a way that seeks to chase down every person who steals my ideas, words or creative work, so this is my heartfelt attempt to speak out against plagiarism as a whole from a Biblical perspective.
But first, what exactly is plagiarism? Well, it used to be simply a copyright violation. Before the Internet, Pinterest and social media, it was much more difficult to plagiarize because before you could publish something, there were copyright filters to ensure plagiarism didn’t happen.
But you don’t have to have a publisher to mass produce your thoughts anymore. All you need are a few social media accounts and fancy apps on your phone to steal someone else’s work and in the minds of most, be “undetected.”
And most don’t even think it’s wrong. Almost daily on my clothing line’s social media page, someone will tag their friend in one of our pictures and say, “Hey, can you make this for me?”
Or I’ll get tagged in someone else’s post, and they’ve copied and pasted my post from that morning, just added their picture and inserted the names of their kids.
That’s plagiarism. And just plain weird. (True story – one time, the woman forgot to change the names in the post to her kid’s names and left mine, even though it was a picture of her children!)
It’s rampant, it’s becoming a social norm…but it’s deceptive, it’s destructive…but it’s even deeper than that:
Plagiarism robs this world of a blessing.
If someone is trying to pass of someone else’s gift as their own, that means the gift God gave them is sitting there unused. And God made everyone on purpose and with a purpose. Our world is at its best when everyone utilizes their God-given potential to its fullest, not when some abandon His call on their life to pursue the calling He has assigned to someone else.
If you’re trying to examine where your heart is on plagiarism, here are the top four questions I ask myself to make sure I am pursuing God’s call on my life to my maximum capacity and encouraging others as they are chasing His call on their life.
Did God give this idea to me on my knees?
I don’t have to question any idea that comes to me when I’m on my knees. I know those are assignments straight from God. Those are the ones that I pursue with my whole heart.
If someone else inspired me, have I given them credit?
As an author, it’s probably no surprise to you that I love to read. If you’ve read any of my books, you’ll see they are filled with quotes from other leaders and authors. Even if I don’t quote them directly, but reading their thoughts spurred an idea in my head, I always try to be above reproach by giving them credit for their thoughts that inspired mine. (Following this step, by the way, has been one of the ways that I’ve been able to connect personally with several of my virtual mentors!)
Does this idea create more unity or more division?
Before I pursue a thought or idea, I check to see what else is out there that is similar. There is power in teamwork, especially in God’s Kingdom since He created us to purposefully be better together (1 Peter 4:10). If my idea is so close to what someone else is doing that it will create more division than unity, I would much rather partner with that ministry than create division.
What’s my motivation?
It’s pretty hard to lie to yourself. So if we force ourselves to answer this question honestly, we can identify any seeds of selfish ambition. If the motivating factor for me isn’t so God gets the credit and others are blessed, my heart isn’t in the right place to proceed. (Two good follow-up questions: Does it matter if someone else gets the credit? Do I wish God was doing in me what I see Him doing in someone else?)
Ultimately, avoiding plagiarism boils down to going above and beyond to pursue humility and integrity so God’s plan for all of His children is maximized. We are better together when we prioritize serving one another in love.
Michelle Myers, Founder & Chief Instigator
Learn more about Michelle’s mentorship groups here!