Saturday, July 08, 2006

A Matter of Value

My post on "What's a sermon worth?" generated a number of comments and conversations. It seems that when we talk about fees, salaries, honoraria and compensation, it all comes down to value. How do we establish something's value? Martha just came from a gallery show where some current artists are showing their small (1 foot by 1 foot) painted canvases and asking prices of $3,500 and upwards for a single painting. To Martha, that seemed unreasonably high. But right next door were some other canvases from a locally known artist, now deceased, whose similar quality paintings are being sold for $35,000. Does death establish a higher value than life?
Other people commented to me about printed reports of executive compensation packages in troubled industries where the ceo's are earning multiple millions while the majority of employees are having their pensions eliminated. How is that value established? So many of the conversation keep coming back to a dollar amount. Everything gets reduced to a dollar value, and value is established by dollars generated.
The picture above is from our second day in France when we went wandering through the port city of Antibe. It happened to be right during the Cannes Film Festival and all sorts of big, big boats were moored in the harbor. As we walked along the dock, they just kept getting bigger. Some of the boats that get parked inside these monsters were out of the price range of mortals. How does that work? It's more than economics and market-place, it's about value. Someone places value on having the biggest boat in the harbor.
I believe in the biblical principle of a laborer being worthy of his/her wage and that workers should share in the abundance of the vineyard. But where is the balance? What are some biblical and spiritual principles we can use in a dollar-obsessed world? What are the guidlelines you use to find value?


At 8:14 PM , Anonymous kent said...

This is one of those arenas where it is hard to walk the line of the being in the world and not of the world. This issue permeates so much of what we do. It is not just in the world of art, but conference speakers, homes, and writings. What makes John Grishom's writing more valuable that Don Johnson's? Or take pastoral salaries, why can one make $80,000 a year and another receives $35,000? Is there really that mucxh difference in the value of the ministries?

May be Jesus was on to something about questioning who it is we serve? I can't serve both, I cannot waffle between the two. If driving a uses minivan is not okay what does that say? I confess I worry about clothes and food and college tuition and vacation plans. Gratitude helps. Focusing on what I have received rather making lists of what I still want. It also help that the events and dinners I have paid the most for have been disappointments. And the times I have paid little or nothing for have been some of the very best. There is nothing like hot dogs on the beach with your family watching the sun go down.

Oh as for funerals, what ever the family gives me is fine, even if it is nothing. I am providing the care of Christ at a horrific moment. But for a wedding, since they are taking me away from my family, I do charge and use the honorarium for my families benefit. Obviously if the family cannot afford it, I take nothing. But since in my area 10% of the bar bill would buy a nice Chevy, I have little hesitation of asking for $300.00. I have yet to have anyone balk.

BTW nice pictures - who is the old guy?

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