The complaint I often hear from Christians is that a “real Christian” shouldn’t ask for money, but instead, offer his/her services for free because it’s the Christian thing to do. They are actually offended by fellow believers who charge money for things they, somehow, don’t consider to be a “real job” or realize takes expertise, time or training: designers, authors, counselors, laborers, handymen, artists and coaches.
While I fully agree that we are called to help the widow and those less fortunate, I don’t see where we are called upon to give ALL our services away for free!
Asking a provider of a special service or author, to give away all their information for free is no different from asking a grocery store to give you free food. After all, would you ask a doctor or lawyer to work for free?
The only reason people see it differently is because the product isn’t tangible or the title doesn’t have a degree from an Ivy League college, but if you review the context of what Scripture says, “Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing grain,” and “The worker deserves his pay” (1 Timothy 5:18), you’ll see that the labor being discussed deserves to be paid!
The most prevalent question I get, is how do you draw the line? How do you handle the people who want discounted fees and often free services?
Your knowledge has value. You’ve invested time, study and money into learning your skills and it’s not fair for people to expect you to give it away for free. Even friends need to understand there are boundaries.
For example is to no longer advise friends or family for free on a constant basis. You have businesses to run, a mortgage to pay, an office rent to pay, groceries to buy, health plans to cover etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!
My experience as a voice teacher, a pastoral counselor and a ministry speaker has been interesting to say the least. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” is true. Those I have given discounts to for free lessons or hours of pastoral counseling time, more often than not, rarely practice or rehearse, or they take your research and advice and time and then don’t follow through or, get angry when the crisis repeats itself and I send them back to square one.
Giving away information and your skills is the quickest way to end up evicted or foreclosed on, and taken advantage of. Put that in proper perspective for a moment.
If you’re having problem drawing the line in the sand, and setting boundaries (I’m preaching to the choir here), these are some rules of thumb you might want to follow:
Believe that what you know is valuable. If it wasn’t then why are they coming to you? You’re their chance to solve a problem, find a solution or receive training or skilled consultation for a project. That has value. Charge for it. Create a fee schedule.
Whenever someone wants to pick your brain, make sure you have your fee schedule in front of you. Give them a quote for how much it will cost them. They’ll either pay it or move on. If they move on, that is OK too! They weren’t really interested in paying you, following through or don’t value how you learned what you know anyway.
Let them figure it out on their own and remain gracious and focused on caring for or working with those who see the worth of your investment into their lives, their talents or skills. And at times, as you are prompted by the Holy Spirit, you may be led to cut your fees down or offer time or talents to help in special situations. These are purely at you and the Lord’s discretion and specific situation.
“Pay everyone whatever he ought to have: pay your taxes and import duties gladly, obey those over you, and give honor and respect to all those to whom it is due,” Romans 13:7.
|Mary Lindow has a passion for encouraging others in all generations and careers or vocations to live and express excellence through personal integrity, healthy accountability, and wise management of talents and skills. She is a sought after keynote inspirational and humorous speaker and teacher throughout the United States internationally in Ministers conferences, International Spiritual leaders Conferences, and in National and International training seminars for various organizations.|
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