Should Christians Write for Free?
by Lynda Schab
I know many writers who have no problem giving their work away. I’m not talking about those who do it because they really truly have no desire to get paid for their work, I’m talking about those who have the misguided belief that God somehow doesn’t approve of them getting paid for something they feel He called them to do. And while there certainly is a time to write or edit for free (or pro bono), I don’t make a habit of it. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I don’t believe God wants me to make a habit of it.
Glad you asked.
The Bible tells us that God gave us all of our gifts and talents. And yes, we should use those gifts and talents to further the Kingdom. Yet, there are many, many writers who believe that because one of their gifts is writing, they should give it away because, you know, it’s for God’s glory and everything and they just want to “be a blessing.”
Hey – it’s a noble idea. An honorable idea. But it’s no more righteous to give away your writing than it is if you’re a plumber and you … plumb?…for free or if you’re a hair dresser and you cut everyone’s hair for free or if you’re an accountant and you do everyone’s taxes at no cost. If you did, you wouldn’t be a good steward of the talents and gifts God gave you. You also would probably be living in a cardboard box.
Of course, there are exceptions. If you know a single mom whose three kids have hair the length of Rapunzel because she just can’t afford to pay for haircuts, good grief – offer your services for free. Or if someone you know is struggling financially and their sink clogs up and they can’t afford to hire a plumber, for Pete’s sake, go fix their sink! This is what Christians do.
But…and I insert a huge BUT here … God gave you gifts and talents to bless you, too. Those gifts were given to you so you can work in order to bless your family. After all, if we ALL gave away our work for free, as stated above, we’d ALL live in cardboard boxes. And I don’t know about you, but that just doesn’t appeal to me. Plus, you can still bless people with those gifts and talents AND get paid for it (gasp!)
I have to admit, submitting articles and stories to magazines for pay may seem a lot easier than, say, editing an article for a friend. I have definitely had times when I almost feel guilty for charging someone to edit or critique their work. Especially when we get to know our clients, it’s difficult to keep business, business. But just as I pay my friend to cut my hair because she’s providing me with a service she’s skilled in, I should also get paid by a friend to provide a service in which I’m skilled.
You may have never thought about this before, but The Proverbs 31 woman was a working woman. Here’s what it says in verse 24: “She makes belted linen garments and sashes to sell to the merchants.”
Hmmm. God gave her a gift and she’s using it to make garments to SELL. Not give away…SELL. The chapter also tells how wise she is with her money – she buys fields and uses her earnings to plant a vineyard. I’m assuming she SELLS the grapes and wine that comes from that vineyard.
If you’re a writer who truly feels called to regularly give away your writing, God bless you. But if you’re one who would love to make money for doing something you love to do (and hopefully are good at!) but believe that God wouldn’t approve of you getting paid for writing, please prayerfully reconsider.
Don’t sell yourself short. If God gave you a gift of writing, and you feel called to write, getting paid might just be how God rewards you for using the talent He gave you.