Billable Hours

BillWe know our neighbours. We intentionally try to be a part of our community (even in simple ways such as buying our milk from the same corner store). We ask ourselves how our faith values are embodied in our everyday lives. We speak honestly about why we live the life we do. Of course we assume you do all of these things too. The difference is, it’s part of our job description.

As Global Workers there is a muddling between doing what we do because of our work contract and because of what we believe. As Christians we believe we’re meant to live a certain way. Regardless of where we are in the world, there are things we’ll do as a natural extension of who we are. Is it odd that we get paid to do what we all should be doing? Amongst Global Workers we’ve found a range of opinions over what counts as billable hours and what is just part of our lifestyle. There is a missional component to all of our lives so determining what is part of our 40 hours / week can feel fluid at times.

There are cultural contexts around the world where just living amongst and hanging out with people is the only avenue for demonstrating faith. Living differently speaks volumes, especially in the absence of the more common models based on churches. Poland, however, is not one of those restrictive contexts. With so much of our time tied up in teaching English, we find ourselves wrestling with this. Teaching has opened up relational doors with people we would have otherwise never met; yet, the amount of time we spend teaching limits our availability to be a part of the pilot project we initially came here for. Does that make it less missional? Should we be clocking 70 hours a week at the language school and another 40 for our so called “vocational ministry”? Of course there is overlap, but how much is what we need to determine.

Underlying all of this is the reality that we all have a personal ministry – a way in which we serve others based on our faith. It doesn’t matter if you are a copy editor, realtor or anesthetist – your faith is infused into each part of your life and no one pays you extra for that. Despite what it sounds like, we’re not trying to get ourselves bumped to volunteer salaries, but rather come to a fuller understanding of how our professional, personal and faith lives overlap. Each season of life will bring different mixes, but right now our challenge is feeling like our fundraising is justified. There is an accountability and a trust that we work hard to maintain and examining this balance is a part of this accountability process. We don’t know how to sum this up neatly, but we welcome your thoughts – no really, what do you think counts as billable hours?

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5 thoughts on “Billable Hours

  1. Surely to goodness you must have some contract you signed??? Those unfortunately would probably be paid hours. I have listen to pastor after pastor etc say you have to know when to say no… spread yourself too thin makes you weaker for the job all around. Also of course you have given your life to the Lord and he must know what he is doing or we are all in trouble. Those folks know what your obligations are for your visa’s etc ….the rest would be from the kindness of your hearts. You have every right t be happy and the Bible says something like “I have come to give you life/joy——-?? and more abundantly” Well you can not have peace /joy and put God/family ( most important ) when you are tearing your hair out. These people are watching for a enviable ( is that a word) life style. Sounds like you have every right to be firm have to know when to turn away.. On the other hand, no one not even God said being Jesus followers was going to be easy and remember you are in a wonderful foreign country doing what so many of us only wish and dream we would have the privilege of doing. My whole 71 years I had a longing about being a Christian in Africa……….ENJOY> I think about you often and proud of you Amber.

    1. I assume that you believe that God has called you to minister to the Polish people in your city. Sometimes that “ministry” can take many forms. I would think you should not be worried about how many hours you spend teaching or in “ministry”, as one can be an avenue to the other. If teaching gives you access to the people you wish to witness to, then it in itself is part of your ministry. Perhaps what you are doing now is just building the foundation for what is to follow. If your heart is in the “ministry”, God will know what is required and you will be led by Him. I certainly would not worry about where your time is spent. Thank God that you have access to witness to these people. I know you have to be accountable, but to worry about where you spend your hours, to me, is a useless exercise.

  2. Love you folks! ‘Billable hours’ eh? I wonder how Paul would have answered that question? Mending nets at times is a must – and we must not be a debtor to others too – lots of ways of looking at an answer here – my billable hours from business context really doesn’t help, as it was always for profit (to stay in business). BUT,thank God we have the best Counsellor in the whole world to help us here, with the best answer for your situation. One of my life verses in business was Prov16:9 which I used this way: after prayed up on a hard issue, I would go ahead and make my plans of my heart (as my heart seemed right about it, as the Seemer said OK, go for it), and then let God guide your steps (akin to being in a sailboat, in which you set a course and start your journey, but the Wind (the HS) is allowed to take us where He wants us to be. I hope some (even any) of this is helpful. I’ll start praying for this decision for you Matt immediately. Thanks for sharing — I know the Lord will bless your prayer-based decision/direction for His honour and glory! With lots of Christ’s love for you both, … Tom

  3. thanks for the encouraging words here folks. The big difference here that we wrestle with is that we get paid by the language school and by our organization in Canada. Granted if you add those sums up we’re not talking about a lot of money, but we are still getting paid to teach and paid to live out our faith. Paul made tents to pay the bills. He still did what he did as an extension of who he was. Therein lies the difference.

    1. Hello from Comox!
      This is an issue I’ve thought about before. Part of my thoughts on this is that we to often think of ourselves to often as human doings instead of human beings. Our identity is in Christ first. What is the greatest commandment? Someone once asked Jesus, love The Lord your God with all your soul and strength, the second is is like it Love your neibour as yourself. So in all we do we love The Lord first, and then that spills over to neibour where ever we find them, on the construction site, in the store, in school, at church, or the resturant, Christ’s love gets spilled every where. So I think the issue is not what we are doing or how we are doing it is what is important, it’s all about doing it out of a personal relationship with Christ and being Christ to those around us where ever we find ourselves in Canada, Africa, or Poland. All what God wants is for us to walk with him and love him daily. To realize that he has planed each day to for us to touch someone’s life with his love. So if you find yourself not where you expected, but you are walking intimately with Christ you are probably where Christ wants you. Keep looking for his hand in where you are, he wants to touch someone’s life. Where the money is coming from to meet expenses is irrelevant, it all about walking relationally with our Lord daily.

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