Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The laborer deserves to be paid

Got an email from a clergy colleague who knew me from my former life as a sign language interpreter.  She forwarded on to me a message from another clergyperson with a Deaf congregant, wondering about resources for finding a cheap interpreter. The priest thought they couldn't afford to pay the professional expense the interpreter was asking.  I wrote back with a suggestion of where to look, but also pointed out that the amount being asked was less than I got paid as a professional interpreter 20 years ago.

Here's what stuck in my craw: the question was not, "Do you know of any resources to find ways to pay a professional interpreter a professional rate?"  It was not, "Do you know of any grants we could apply for?"  It was, "Do you know anyone who will do it for less or for free?"

This "Where can we get it cheap?" attitude devalues work and devalues people.  In this case especially it made me mad; why should the Deaf person get a cheap interpreter?  What kind of quality do you think you're going to get?  Don't you think someone should be paid for providing this service?  This church has the opportunity to provide high-quality interpreting services and employ someone in a down economy.  Instead, they want to half-ass it at minimal cost.

I know churches are strapped.  But it also gets my goat that churches' first reaction often seems to be, "Where can we get a cut-rate version?" rather than "What do we need to do to pay someone a fair amount to do a good job as we provide a ministry to others?"

Here's a thought for you: if you can't pay people for their work, then maybe you are not ready to provide this ministry.  Here's another: quit being so cheap.

1 comment:

Songs of a Soul Journey said...

I am glad to see someone who is noticing this tendency to devalue the abilities of people. This is rampant. One look at Craigslist for jobs, and you will see internships asking for outrageous amounts of work from people for free. The church is no more culpable than any other sector, but it sure doesn't take the lead toward valuing individuals.