Recently, with the strikes in Hollywood, there have been a lot of discussions on a variety of forums and sites about what people deserve as compensation for their work. A small but very vocal theme emerged across some faith based discussions that gave me pause. Generally, the idea can be summed as someone using their God given talent in the kingdom should be happy with whatever they get when it comes to compensation. Because in the long run, it’s not about the money, but the message.

A few years ago, I wrote an article on my personal blog about ministry rates.  That article has turned out to be one of the most popular on my site. It pops back to the top of my statistics pretty regularly. I thought maybe it was time to take another look at the idea of a ministry rate.

Over the course of my time as a business owner, I’ve worked with a variety of groups from small local ministries to Forbes 500 corporations. With mainstream corporations, it’s not unusual to negotiate for a fair price to work within a specific budget.  Within the faith based realm, it’s also not unusual to be asked about a special lower rate for ministries. In one instance, an organization I was working with was ordered to take any proposal for work, slash the budget in half and tell them since it was for the Lord, their compensation would come from Him. Obviously not every group is at this level, but it does beg the question about expectations of this nature.

What does the Bible say?

In the book of First Chronicles, King David had messed up and the Lord was calling him to penance for some things he had done. David was told to build an altar and bring a sacrifice to the Lord. When David found the place, the man who owned it basically said, “You’re the King! Let me give it to you! ” But David refused.

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Image courtesy of Lori Twichell.

“No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (1 Chronicles 21:24)

Let that soak in a minute. David was the King. He could have taken it without a second thought. The man was delighted to be able to gift it to the King. But David knew in his heart that it wouldn’t be right. He understood that if he accepted,  it would not be David’s sacrifice. Had he taken the offer, the sacrifice would have actually belonged to the man who gifted the land. Also, sticking with this idea, in Genesis 23 Abraham was offered a plot of land for burying his wife, but he also refused the gift and instead, paid full price.

Volunteering Services

I work with a lot of ministries, churches, and non-profits. Often I lower my rates and in some cases, I have volunteered my services to them for free. I give my time and experience freely when I feel the Lord leading that direction.The parable of the talents (Matthew 25) is one of my favorite passages of the Bible. With every project I take on, I pray earnestly that I am truly doing what He wants me to do with the opportunity in front of me.

It’s also my understanding that the Lord isn’t going to let His people, who are faithful to Him, go without being paid what’s right and fair ifor their services. I fully believe that. It might not always be money but instead,  it could be another opportunity or a trade of services.  No matter how that looks, I belive when we give our efforts freely, God does not look away from that sacrifice.

Negotiation vs. Expectation

I am also a firm believer in discussion and conversation on rates that will allow every party to benefit. There is a big difference between coming togther to work for a fair price and demanding a lower rate. Within negotations there’s a give and take. There is also an ongoing conversation where both sides get heard and agree to come together. But honestly, I believe that the same fierce protection that we see over dollars in a budget should also be granted to the time and efforts of the people within an organization. Having an expectation of free or low end rates doesn’t take into account the very valuable resources of the people involved and the time they invest. We should value the people God places in our path more than any services they offer or money they can give.

Image courtesy of Quiet on the Set News

I have volunteered my services to many ministries, groups, and people over the years.  I have no problem doing this.  In each of these instances, my directive on giving my services came directly from God to me.  Sometimes I volunteer. Sometimes I give a better rate. Each situation is unique. Anyone who has ever talked with me about my rates knows that I am happy to adapt for the project whenever I am able. I believe in giving where I can. But I also believe that it’s difficult for Christians to achieve a higher standard of quality when they are not willing to pay for it.

Final thoughts

Our God is the father of creativity and excellence. He created literally everything in the universe.  Can you imagine a world where the highest level of talent is lining up begging to work with faith groups because the quality of our work and the compensation given are among the best in the world?