Counting the Costs

Posted: February 9, 2022 in Uncategorized

This is going to sound off topic for a little while so please bear with me. A few weeks ago I made my last trip to one of my favorite places to eat, Five Guys. This is not to say I will never go there again, only that it will be a while. You see I got my cheeseburger, small fries and regular sized drink and came away with a bill that was almost $18, which was a little too rich for my blood. Then just the other day I had a really nice meeting that went pretty well past lunch. I was really hungry, so I decided to stop at McDonald’s on my way home. I got the Quarter Pounder with cheese meal, and because I was pretty thirsty too, I ordered it large size to get the large iced tea. Now I have struggled with a weight problem most of my life, so it is probably best that McDonald’s is a “sometimes food” for me anyway, but I must admit I was in shock when my bill was all but $14. Things sure have gone up.

I know what a lot of it is. With the outcry to go to a $15 minimum wage, restaurants have had to raise their wages, and contrary to popular belief among the current administration, higher wages equate to higher prices. I’d love to point out, that if you were making minimum wage and your wages doubled overnight, congratulations, but when the price of the meal doubles as well (and that is pretty much what has happened) are you any better off? But it’s not just that. The rest of us got only a cost of living raise (I am not complaining about my wages here, just making a point) the rising cost of the meal, has us second guessing buying your product. When my meal at McDonald’s was $7-$8, it was pretty easy for me to rationalize that it was easier to go to McDonald’s than to prepare something for myself to eat, but I can make a lot of P, B & J’s for $14, and if I am going to spend $14 on a meal, it’s not going to be McDonald’s. If this keeps up before long McDonald’s will not be able to afford to pay $15 an hour. It’s basic economics.

So what does this have to do with my topic. It’s very simple. Everything but salvation has a cost, and everybody but God has limited resources. There are a lot of people in our world who will look at your ministry and expect that you will do things for free. The thing is nothing is free. For me to do an event for free means I am paying for it out of pocket. My time and materials still cost me something and they have value. An hour of doing ministry is minimum three to five hours away from my family, which is another cost. The fact of the matter is I can afford to do a few things for free because I have a full time pastoral ministry and the income from that subsidizes me doing something for free. Nothing is really free. Now does that mean I don’t do anything for free? No, I do this when I feel led by the Lord to do so, and so should you. The other side of this is, the people paying you to come in have limited resources too. Some can afford a premium price, but a lot cannot and in uncertain economic times, people are hesitant to pay more than they have to. I recommend looking at your costs and seeing what each of your programs costs you to do, then consider your time and charge accordingly. Create a range of programs so you can meet people where they are budget-wise and of course do your best to overdeliver and bring the best program you possibly can.

Go back to my McDonald’s analogy. My usual meal at Texas Roadhouse costs about the same as that Quarter Pounder with Cheese meal. With that I get a small steak, a beautiful salad, a baked potato and a drink (not to mention complimentary rolls). I do even better if I get what I really should be drinking, i.e. water. There is no comparison between the two. My meal at Texas Roadhouse is better for me nutritionally, tastes better, is of better quality and feels like a much better value. In the same way, most people don’t mind paying for something truly excellent. In these days, bring the best value you can, and over deliver on quality. People are counting the cost more than ever. Take care of them and they will take care of you.

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