Life, Servanthood, spirituality, Success

Servant for Hire

Servant Leader

“In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.” That will be $29.95 please!

If I sold widgets, business would be much easier. Each widget cost $1.00. Overhead & customer acquisition another $3.50. Add a reasonable profit with room to negotiate, and my price to market is $9.95. Spend enough SEO and advertisement dollars to make my widget stand out above the competition, throw in some good PR, a great online presence and legendary customer service, and wham – success!

If I sold widgets, business, and life, would be much easier; but I don’t. I don’t sell widgets, I sell hope. Hope? How much does hope cost? It depends on what you are willing to pay and how much you need. I actually don’t sell anything; that’s the problem – at least that’s what some say. How do you charge for changing lives?

Our society views wealthy entrepreneurs as successful, while viewing successful clergy as thieves. The salesman is awarded for his financial gain solicited from his clientele, while the Pastor is convicted.

I was asked to perform a wedding some time ago. I did my best to politely decline, but the bride-to-be was very persuasive. She was masterful at overcoming my objections. I finally succumbed to her plea and performed the ceremony.

I showed up early, catered to the bride and groom to-be and their family. I socialized with the crowd, joked with the sound guy, comforted and quieted the little tots; everything I knew and love to do, I did to the best of my ability.

The ceremony was great, the couple were happy and the congregation was in tears. “I understand why they chose you,” a lady said to me after the ceremony, “You put your heart and soul into it, and everyone in the audience could feel that.”

How much did I charge? 

How can you charge for changing lives? How do you put a price tag on serving people in the greatest hour of their need? 

I had explained to the couple earlier during our premarital meeting that I didn’t have a set fee for my services. “Do whatever you feel in your heart you would like to do after the ceremony,” I told them. At the close of the ceremony, the bride assured me she had “an envelope” for me – which is always a bitter sweet moment for clergy. You know how much you put into the service, and you just cross your fingers and hope the person(s) you are serving feel the same.

The bride announced at the last moment she didn’t have “the envelope” with her. She continued to explain she also didn’t bring the marriage license either, and asked if I could meet up with them the following week to sign the license and receive “the envelope.” Of course I obliged, because that’s what servants do.

Here’s where my business sense and my heart to help conflicts. Everything in my business sense said, “Get the money before signing the license.” From a business perspective, the license was my leverage. But this wasn’t just a business transaction to me.  Just like every speaking or preaching engagement, young entrepreneur I’ve ever coached, or hospice patient or family I’ve served, this was, yet again, another golden opportunity to help make a difference in someone’s life.

How much do you charge for changing lives?

How much is that servant in the window?

You probably already know how this ends. I met with the couple the following week for over an hour. I sowed more of my nineteen years of marital and pastoral wisdom into the precious couple. We laughed together, cried together, and then I signed the license. I waited for a few minutes for the exchange – which is the most awkward position to be in – and nothing.

“Thank you ‘Pastor,” they called me. “We love you so much. You made our wedding day SO SPECIAL!” I waited, and waited, but nothing. I drove away empty handed, as I do so often. I waited a few days thinking the mysterious “envelope” may just show up in my mailbox; but nothing.

Serving people is the highest form of honor, and should be reciprocated in the same manor. – Jeff Crume

Clergy often times leave their “fees” open to the judgement and discretion of the ones they are helping. Serving is the highest form of honor, and should be reciprocated in the same manor. However, so often, Clergy are left empty handed.

The entrepreneur gets the signature and payment before releasing the goods, and we applaud his or her business savvy. Yet, let the Pastor receive the offering on Sunday morning before sharing the message, and we criticize him or her.

“He’s just in it for the money!” Aren’t you?

If you call on the services of a servantanyone who is pouring their life into you to help you – don’t leave them empty handed. Don’t take advantage of a servant’s heart. Don’t force a servant to charge you for their services. Honor them by paying them for honoring you.

Pay the Servant the same, or even more, as you would for any other product or service that comes with a price tag. Remember, the widget that comes with a price tag will wear out soon after you purchase it, but the impartation and wisdom you receive from a Servant will last a life time.

3 thoughts on “Servant for Hire”

  1. Wow I feel so blessed and learning an invaluable lesson, that no matter what a servant does by serving us we should not leave them empty handed. This reminds me of someone that’s served me I need to bless. Thank you.

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  2. Very well-written Jeff and I know how much you put into serving others. I couldn’t do what you do because I would have a Rate Sheet for it. LOL…but seriously, at the very least, for special events, brides/grooms and yes, widows….should expect…and be invoiced….for ceremonial services that take your time. If they don’t want to pay and can find someone who will work for nothing, let them go. Your time and wisdom has value. Charge accordingly. Just my opinion.

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