Does this video remind you of how your church does business?
Though this video clearly illustrates a client/vendor relationship, the principle is exactly the same when it comes to churches and their vendors, contractors & consultants. In the name of “being a good steward”, churches often go past the point of getting a good value and shove vendors/contractors/consultants right into a corner.
Re-Defining “Good Stewardship”
I know I’ve seen this type of scenario happen to me both in my corporate work of years ago and in my consulting with churches and ministries. It’s perfectly acceptable to negotiate. In fact, I think it’s downright good business. But instead of equating “good stewardship” to “saving money”, what if churches understood “good stewardship” as “not wasting money”?
“Good stewardship has less to do with how much money is saved and more to do with how much money isn’t wasted.” - Anthony Coppedge
“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde
“…the Scripture says, ‘You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.’ And in another place, ‘Those who work deserve their pay!’”
The video above illustrates the “low-ball” approach to assigning value: it’s inequitable and unethical.
I’ve honestly had people call or email me and say “God told me you should work for free for us”. Really? It’d be great if He’d tell me that first. In fact, when I have worked for free, it was because I was led by God to do so, not because I’d been asked (or told)!
In a down economy, I understand budgets are tight (mine’s tight, too). I’ve provided additional consulting, offered more hours and found ways to create outstanding value. As a result, churches are getting incredible value and my family enjoys eating. But, seriously, working together to create higher value is more important than simply saving dollars.
It’s all about Relationship
Back when I sold gear (design/build systems integration firm), I had a very simple policy with churches that bought from me: I’d show them what I paid (my cost) and they’d pay between 10%-15% markup for all gear and market rate on labor. The result? Fair prices, great service and a loyalty that worked both ways.
Value, my friends, is a fair and suitable equivalent for something else. A strong value in a client/vendor relationship goes well beyond price; it involves an understanding between the two parties that mutual benefit is important to all involved.
Let us all laugh at the ludicrous parody in the above video, but not forget to apply good stewardship with the Biblical model of paying a workman in a worthy manner.