In 2002, a rap group named AMG released a song with a provocative title: “B*%#@ Betta Have My Money“. While this song is not appropriate for Christian circles, I think the principal of the song’s title could be shared among those who host events in Christiandom.
Recently, a person called me and asked me to suggest guests for an upcoming event (a birthday musical event). They wanted someone professional. I initially suggested that they invite one of the independent artists that we have here in Chicago. Independent artists abound here and they always welcome the opportunity to enlarge their fan base and share their gift.
This person was “iffy” with my suggestion and named a few other artists they would like to have. He knew they would cost money and what they really wanted me to do was to put my own name out there and have them do it as a favor to me. I was NOT going to do that. Why? Because I will have to return a favor that I would not even get to reap the benefits of. I have my own events that I need to call in favors for. At this juncture in my career/ministry, I have to use favors sparingly.
I offered to get some contact info for them on an artist they’d mentioned and when I did, the question came: “Are they going to charge me?” This was not my question to answer. I knew that the artist would be reasonable and work with them, even if it was just gas money, just because I asked. I was not going to tell them that. Why? Because I was enraged!
If you are having an event, someone has to get paid. Especially if the event is in your honor. This was a Birthday Musical. Who was getting that offering? You were, Birthday Boy! So no one was to get paid but you? I think not.
I am not here to condone robbing the church nor do I say “charge for everything”. However, in my years as a professional emcee and a Minister of the Gospel and a vocalist, I have been the victim of the “Why should I pay you?” syndrome. At this point in my life, I am settled on the fact that there a few things that factor in when asking for compensation:It costs money to get to your event Gas is almost 4 bucks a gallon in some places. Many times people have their event where it is convenient for them and not me. I have to drive to a suburb or the location you have selected. I also have to drive home. Gum/mints for my breath. Soap/Cologne for my body. Oil for my hair. Pen and paper of electronic device for notes. All this stuff comes with an expense. You want me to stay until the end If I am your “Special Guest” you make me wait until everyone gives their remarks, reads poems, does a praise dance and darn near does everything but juggle. You know good-and-well that once the headliner gets up, the crowd is gone. I have to sing last – after everyone has shouted themselves tired and is looking at their watch. Also, if I am the Emcee, I have to see the program through. I can’t leave until the program is over. My time is valuable. Especially if this is a weekend event. My Saturday night is gone and I have to turn right around and jump up the next morning for church. I’m tired…pay for it! Let us not discuss the fact that most event are beginning to start later and later. You were supposed to begin at 7pm. It is now ten minutes to 8 and the service is beginning. You have to be kidding me. Because of this, I have enlisted a new policy: for every 30 minutes you start late, I am subtracting 30 minutes from my departure time. Start and hour late, I’m leaving an hour earlier than I intended to. If you start at 8:00 and I leave at 8:30, that ain’t my fault. It’s yours (the flyer said 7pm). Need I remind you that it’s the weekend? I have a significant other. She ain’t gonna take too many more Saturday or Sunday nights without a nice dinner and movie. She, like me, does not want to spend all her free time in church when there is a whole world out there. I can’t even get out early because you fraternize the time away with useless soundchecks, exhortations and wardrobe changes. Besides, give me something to defend when she asks: “Did they at least give you something for keeping you out all this time?” You want me cleaned and polished I am known for my haberdashery. Therefore, I pride myself on looking fashionable. This is what attracted you to me in the first place; I was a well-spoken, well put together man that could move your service along or enhance it in some way. Needless to say, I (as a Master of Ceremony) have to adapt to any last minute changes you make to the program or for people who have not yet arrived. I have to do it all with tact and aplomb. You wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s why you called me. Hey! My dry cleaning costs money. My expertise didn’t come cheap either. The reason I know the right words to say is because God leads me………He lead me to The University of Illinois and Columbia College and that tuition wasn’t nickels and dimes, pal. It costs money to look, smell and speak good. If you don’t want to be embarrassed, don’t’ act funny with the envelope at the end of the night. I have to do things your way If I am hired for an event, I have to do things according to the client. You and I may not do things the same way and I may not understand your practices and procedures. It sure makes it a whole lot easier to swallow you allowing your off-key Brother-In-Law to sing to a room of 300 people when there is a plethora of artists in the room who could have done much better. If I get paid, there’s nothing I can say, but I sure ain’t gonna be frustrated for free. A workman is worthy of his hire This is Bible, not me. If I am bringing quality, skill and precision to your event, I should be given a token of some sort. ‘Nuff said! Somebody IS getting paid!! The light company, the church, the musicians, maybe even YOU! Why should I nmot get a piece of that? I do just as much as they do. I am under the same time constraints and rigors as everyone else. I have been to events and watched people pass out envelopes to everyone EXCEPT ME. Like my gift was miniscule and didn’t warrant any symbol of gratitude.
It sounds like I am bitter, but I am not. I am speaking on behalf of other people that have been used by people within the Body. If you don’t have the budget, you don’t have the budget. A lot of things that we do are because of relationship or to promote someone’s ministry so that God can be glorified. However, if you do have the funds, be fair to everyone — from the guy who locks up the church to the guy who locks down the baseline. Everyone deserves something. That is all we are asking for – a small token of thanks.
Besides, money answereth all things. As you were.