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God Wants You To Pay Them

Unfortunately, too many times in the past, I have had to view paying artists as a gift. The fact is that these designers, filmmakers, musicians, photographers, painters and writers love our community. Many of them do what they do voluntarily, and for that, I am extremely grateful. But at the same time, many of them scrape by month to month. Many of them are languishing in their lack to find good paying work. Some of them have big dreams and have started incredible design firms. All the while, we say we support them, but we leave them out in the cold to fend for themselves.
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Start by listening to this:

Now I realize I don’t really earn points for my case by starting with a clip of a suicidal villain. But the phrase at the end is so poignant: “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” When I was sitting in the movie, that phrase was important enough for me to at least take out my phone out and update my Twitter. And with my snobby movie-going friends, I endured much scorn for my behavior.

Now, obviously that back story is beside the point. What I’m trying to get at is the ever-present question, “Who do we pay?” My community is full of professional artists and musicians, and when I suggest we compensate them for their work, the most common retort from my co-workers is, “Well, where do we stop?” The answer is an easy one for me, and it has a bit to do with the simple economic principle of supply and demand. I’m not demeaning the guy who arranges the chairs, but if we wanted to, we could put him on a rotation with about 800 other people. There are about six guys who are able to play guitar to the caliber of God-honoring excellence.

It’s not just my opinion. Scripture backs me up a lot on this one. Let’s start with the Old Testament and the work directly related to the construction of the Temple. Solomon is speaking to Hiram, king of Tyre, and says,

1 Kings 5:6

“So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians.”

Solomon doesn’t think twice about asking these people to gather the construction materials for the Temple without paying them. And look what happens at the end of verse 12.

10 In this way Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and pine logs he wanted, 11 and Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths, of pressed olive oil. Solomon continued to do this for Hiram year after year. 12 The LORD gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty.

This is the part of the passage that resonates the most with me. I know exactly what “there were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon means.” A lot of my friends are artists. I never want to be the guy who comes across as making friends with someone for what I can get from them. I think a lot of people in creative director roles at churches are charged with the task of finding artists, becoming friends with them and then using that friendship to leverage free work. It’s sickening. So, to prevent that from ever becoming the case in my life, I have had to fashion my own offering plate—a white envelope in the center console of my car.

So, rather than becoming the slimy guy who just wants to use you, I have become a friend on most days, and then an employer who can be an added blessing and provider other days.

Later, when the Temple was damaged, the rules were the same.

2 Kings 22:5

Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD

And Scripture goes beyond setting an example to outright warning in both the Old Testament

Jeremiah 22:13

“Woe to him who builds his palace by unrighteousness,

his upper rooms by injustice,

making his countrymen work for nothing,

not paying them for their labor.

and the New Testament

James 5:4

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

I think Romans summarizes it really well.

See Also

Romans 4:4

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.

Unfortunately, too many times in the past, I have had to view paying artists as a gift. The fact is that these designers, filmmakers, musicians, photographers, painters and writers love our community. Many of them do what they do voluntarily, and for that, I am extremely grateful. But at the same time, many of them scrape by month to month. Many of them are languishing in their lack to find good paying work. Some of them have big dreams and have started incredible design firms. All the while, we say we support them, but we leave them out in the cold to fend for themselves.

Creativity is one of the strongest backbones of our community at Status. It permeates every aspect of what we do—from our worship gatherings to the way we do small groups and collect the tithe. The lack of organizational support for these creatives has only forced more creativity. Even now, I’m working on a very exciting project that is much bigger than our local church community and was inspired by this need (more to come on that soon). I pray you’re in a community that supports artists. If not, I pray God blesses you with some creative solutions to end the sin.

I’ll also take this opportunity to say thank you to these artists who are doing amazing work for our community:

Greg Perkins : Fantastic graphic designer

Danny Jones : Created our branding at the very beginning (five years ago), and it’s still standing.

JonPaul Douglass : Just finished a video shoot for a new project we’re working on. Amazing photographer.

Matt Addington : Takes real pretty photos.

Jenn Gilanfarr : Incredible animator and Women’s Wakeskate world champion!

Michael Dalton : Creative filmmaker with a sweet eye. Check out some of his 8mm work.

Thanks, guys. Love you all.

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