What is the difference between being shrewd and being stingy when securing services?
Many years ago I spearheaded a conference for youth. A musician friend, I’ll call John, agreed to travel with his family to lead the worship. He was FANTASTIC! His talented presence set an awesome tone that united youth groups from across the city.
The weekend was life changing for youth and adults alike. God was glorified. And I learned a big lesson. Price doesn’t equal value.
I thought I was being a good steward for the church and the conference. Too late, I realized I’d been inconsiderate of this major contributor. Let me explain.
John asked only that we cover his expenses. The speaker had suggested we bring in a band to draw students and celebrate after the conference. The singing duo cost more than the total price for John, the speaker, and the food. Our church chipped in to keep the cost down for the students.
By the time the conference ended everyone was spiritually high and physically exhausted. In hindsight, we didn’t need the band. I share this because if I’d realized the value John and the speaker would bring, I would have skipped the concert and gladly paid these men the difference.
This is an example of a problem I’ve seen repeated in various ways. Some of the same people who expect to pay for a restaurant meal or entertainment expect gifted professionals to share their life-changing services for a nominal fee or at no charge. On the other side, many in ministry are reluctant to ask a fair price for their services.
I’ve been on both sides of this: the one coordinating a conference and the one retained to serve. There are times it’s appropriate to contribute our gifts and time and accept other’s offerings. But we should expect to compensate those whose ministries are their livelihood.
As one in vocational ministry, I’ve often chickened out on setting a fee and hoped for the best. Even though I’ve been surprised by the generosity of some, I’ve learned you can’t count on that. Too often, Christian workers are dishonored by their honorariums.
I now realize, that was partly my fault. Those booking me had no clue how their groups would benefit or how much time and energy it took to deliver what they requested. I remember one coordinator averting her eyes when she handed me my check. She seemed to feel like I had with the worship leader: I wish I’d known. We’d have budgeted more for you.
When the church at Corinth didn’t value Paul’s work, he corrected their thinking. “If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” (See 1 Corinthians 9:7-11).
Some questions to consider:
- What hinders me from showing generosity to those who’ve “sown spiritual things”?
- How should those in ministry be supported for their work?
- How can I materially support those who have spiritually supported me, my family, and community?
Remember, the Lord Jesus Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NASB). As a child of a generous God, I want to be gracious in serving and with those who effectively serve the body and me.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. I also welcome hearing questions and topics you’d like me to address sometime.
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Debbie W. Wilson
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