Sooner or later every creative, even Christian creatives, will have ask themselves this question. It’s a cost benefit analysis of sorts.
This post was inspired by a recent ad I answered for writers for an online news source. I write a lot and they were offering a small amount of money for writing articles. My first thought was, “Well I am going to write anyway, so I might as well apply and see what happens.” I filled out the application, took their application test and waited. A day later, I received an email asking me to write a sample article based on a list of topics. As I looked at the list of topics, I knew nothing about any of them. Research would have to be done to move forward. About now, a thought began to form in my mind. “Is the project worth doing?”
It’s not that I am opposed to research, I do quite a bit of it, but the amount of money they were offering meant that I would have to be able to turn their articles around in a very limited amount of time. If I could not turn an article around in less than an hour, my time would probably be better spent doing something else. An article requiring research simply would not be worth my time.
Now I know what you may be thinking, “It’s not always about the money.” You’re right, it isn’t, but this is about more than just money. I do lots of things for free, to which the nearing 2500 posts on this blog will attest, but it is important to do the right things. We all only have 24 hours in a given day. Time is probably our single most important resource. It’s finite and needs to be used wisely. Here’s how I judge whether or not a project is worth pursuing:
I have a personal mission. To communicate the Gospel and to help the church to embrace and empower creatives and creativity. Whenever I look at a project, a job, etc., my first question is “Will this project help me to accomplish my mission?” There are two ways this can happen, directly and indirectly. The “directly” things are those where I am actually doing things involved in the mission, i.e. preaching, speaking, making art, designing, writing, creating directly related to my ministry. The article project would be an example of indirectly. It doesn’t relate directly to the mission, but if the pay was sufficient, it could help me finance my mission. I will sometimes take on these “just for the money” projects, but only if it is a. God honoring and b. clearly lucrative enough to make the project worth the time invested.
I only have 24 hours and some of those hours must be spent resting, spending time with family, and all those other things that make life worth living outside the on-mission stuff. In a busy life, any extra project will take time away from that time, which is really precious and must be guarded.
I can justify writing these blog posts for free because that is directly related to my mission but the articles simply would not be worth my time, even though they pay (pay very little, but something).
To stay on mission, and stay healthy, the best way is to ask, “Will the project be worth doing?”