Day 1287- Do Not Muzzle An Ox

Do not muzzle an ox while it is threshing grain is one of those obscure Bible references that I remember from my fundamentalist Christian days. It is one that I certainly did not think would ever be relevant in my life. But, it’s been coming up as I am doing this work and working with others who are in the “business” of helping others. Ministry is another word for service. Anyone who serves is a minister- paid or unpaid. What’s fascinating to me is since biblical times, people have balked against the notion that someone who serves others in a spiritual capacity should be rewarded fairly for their work.  I say this has been true since biblical times since the author of 1 Timothy found it necessary to write this down: 

Elders who lead effectively are worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.  For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain, and,The worker is worthy of his wages.”

1 Timothy 5:17-18

The reference is saying when an ox is doing the work of treading out the grain, let it eat freely while it’s doing the work. 

Why do I bring this up? I work with many people who are teaching, providing counseling, delivering hope, peace, and comfort to people and who have to charge for their work. Even now as I type this, I find myself hesitant to use the word “work” because we expect when someone does “work” that we will compensate that person. I say they “have to charge for their work” as if there is something wrong with charging for it. And I say that because there is resentment from people about charging for certain types of work. Several days ago, Alan Hugenot, a tested and certified medium, wrote a long piece about why he has to charge for his work and why he charges the amount he does. As an engineer, Alan laid out the costs to him for doing his work. He travels to be trained, he has an opportunity cost because every hour he spends doing readings is an hour he cannot be doing something else.  The way he broke it down, he showed how many readings he has to do at $150/reading just to “break even”, given his costs. For many years, Alan did not charge for his mediumship. He’s a member of the Spiritualist church and would do readings for free. He volunteered in projects on mediumship. People kept asking him to do readings though. My understanding is he is a superb medium. To accommodate those requests, he has had to start charging. If he’s going to do readings all day, he needs to make money doing readings. And, now he feels the need to justify his reversal on his policy of not charging for readings.

I posted Alan’s piece on a couple of the groups I run to help people understand why mediums have to charge and why some charge “so much”. They have expenses like we all do. Those who travel and teach, who put out videos, who have websites have business expenses in addition to having to pay the mortgage, and utilities, and buy food, like the rest of us. The backlash against the piece was so severe, I ended up taking it down. More than one person left the group. Some called it “fishing” (even though Alan is not a member of our group and didn’t post the piece). This was in a group specifically set up for parents to speak with mediums. But, the idea that a medium would explain why they can’t simply do free readings was offensive to some in the group.

I hear people complaining that certain mediums and healers charge what they charge. Some give heavily discounted services to parents. Most volunteer hours of time. Services prices range greatly from $50-60 an hour to $800 or more an hour. People will compare someone who tours nationally/internationally and must maintain a staff to handle their business; to someone whose partner is the primary breadwinner and who does this work on the side. Just yesterday, one of the people I work with was criticized for charging $250 an hour. There are a couple of problems with that. First, her normal rate is $150 an hour.  The person accusing her of charging $250 got it wrong. Second, she has been doing readings at $20 an hour for parents. And, let’s look at $150 an hour. When I worked for a consulting company, over a decade ago, we billed UNIX consultants out at rates higher than that, routinely. A highly skilled person, who is self-employed, who only gets paid for the hours they work, needs to charge a certain amount to have enough money to live.  Self-employed people need to pay their own health insurance costs. They have to pay for their own websites, travel expenses, etc. 

Now, I have to make this personal. Yesterday, I took a survey that asked what my dream job would be. My dream job would be doing exactly what I’m doing voluntarily now.  I volunteer for several organizations in positions that would be paid if they were not “spiritual”. I had a life coach ask me what I would do if money were no object. I’d teach. I’d help people get through this thing called life. I hesitate to call what I do “work” because I don’t get financial compensation for it. But, it’s just what other people do for work. I’m composing emails, leading online sessions, moderating groups, taking phone calls, providing technical support, counseling, etc. Sunday morning, while I was out walking, I had someone start messaging me in the middle of my walk. I explained I was out and had somewhere to be at a certain time. Then, she wanted a phone call from me. She talked to me for over twenty minutes on a Sunday morning about how she could begin working with Helping Parents Heal. Last night, I was taking a night off, hanging with friends. We had a meeting. But, I left it to others to spend some time with friends. Messages kept coming in, people wanting to talk to me about various things. I want to make this very, very clear. I am not complaining. This is what I love to do. People ask me why I keep taking it on. I take it on because I feel like this is what I was put here to do. I would do it for free. I do it for free.

Sunday, I happened to catch Anita Moorjani giving a Facebook Live talk on Money!!!! (I believe that’s exactly how she titled it). She was talking about how empaths struggle with money. Empaths tend to go into healing and teaching professions which (other than doctors) often don’t pay well. Empaths tend to give more than they get anyway so they feel bad asking for money, especially for things they would do for free. Compounding this is the notion that “spiritual work” doesn’t deserve compensation. It’s somehow profane to ask for money for this type of work. People have no problem asking an energy healer or a medium to set aside time and do work for them for free. But, no one asks a plumber to fix their toilet for free. You don’t take your car to a mechanic and not expect to pay for it. The Facebook Live was her most viewed talk she had given. I watched the comments as nearly everyone who follows Anita said they have a terrible relationship with money. They wish they didn’t have to deal with money. These are all sentiments I’ve had myself. I commented myself that I have to do what I hate to do. I have to focus on making money by any means necessary, so that I can afford to do what I love to do, for free. That is not a sustainable dynamic. It has to change.

The good news is some revenue streams are opening up for me. The class I taught this fall has turned into five classes scheduled for next year. I’ll pick up a couple of thousand dollars there. I got a 40% hourly raise in addition to picking up more classes. In a couple of hours, I’ll clock in and work for one of the mediums I have built a relationship with. It’s not what I want to be doing long-term, but it’s a step. And, I’m working on another opportunity that will move me closer to doing my own teaching- for money.

2019 is the year to make a transition to doing more of what I feel like I was put here to do and being compensated for it. I’ve joined a group of like-minded people that I think will help me find my way. I’m paying to be a member of this group. I feel a kinship with them already even though it’s just started a couple of days ago. Asking for money is uncomfortable. But, it’s necessary.

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One Comment

  1. Brian, what you do is serve others. We all pay for service all the time. When we assist others to heal whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually we want to know others value that service. What price is fair for healing? I know for me, receiving that assistance and healing is priceless. I support you in your efforts to continue to do what you love and to be able to support yourself and your family in doing so.