Why Payment for Spiritual Services is Ethical

It has become quite popular to berate spiritual practitioners who charge. I’d like to take some time to discuss why I feel that it is ethical and necessary.

Having a gift from God doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paid for it.

If your argument is that people should not charge for using their gifts from God, no one anywhere could charge for anything. The doctor who treats you was gifted with the intelligence and ability to understand complex biological concepts to be able to learn to be a doctor for you. A good therapist was gifted to have a way with speech and understanding human behavior so they can help you feel better. Anyone who is a successful business owner was gifted with a sense for money and business. At our core each person has gifts from God that make us able to do the jobs we do.

This does not even include the gifts that most of us take forgranted. This includes all of our basic senses and basic abilities such as walking, talking, and logical reasoning. Those who work may have health issues, but most have so few they can be controlled, or at least are not so limiting that they still can function for a full time work week. Not everyone has those gifts. Should those who gifted by God to be capable of working a full time work schedule not get paid because God has gifted them with that ability?

Most spiritual practitioners are trained and you are paying for that experience and expertise.

Being a spiritual practitioner that is paid means that you are saying that you have a certain level of knowledge and gaining knowledge has a huge cost. The first cost for knowledge is time. I spend many hours every week reading sources, listening to podcasts, and reading books. I attend workshops and classes when I feel they can be useful.

After doing this for over 20 years nearly everyday I have gained a lot of knowledge and my clients benefit from that. I may do reiki on a person, but something may come up and I realize they have a spiritual attachment. Or I may know of another therapy that may be helpful. Everything builds on each other.

Someone who has another type of 40 hour a week job, plus a family, and practices their spirituality as a hobby most likely will not have as much time to spend dedicated on learning and spiritual practice. They also will not deal with actual cases that will help them to gain more knowledge and experience. I am not trying to put anyone down, it’s just a fact of life that if you spend your time doing one thing, it limits what you can do on another level so those who are professionals have generally put in the extra time and dedication that someone that is a hobbiest may not have.

It is the same as if you need a plumber. Maybe uncle Joe can fix it, but he doesn’t realize there are specific things that need to be adjusted or done a certain way so it takes him extra time and he may muck it up before getting it right. A professional plumber has put in his time to learn, and should be able to do it right the first time. Uncle Joe is still a great guy, and maybe sometimes he is just what you need, but sometimes things are complicated or there is more going on that Uncle Joe may not realize.

When you pay a spiritual practitioner, you must consider how much time and specialization you are paying for. Not all spiritual practitioners will put this level of dedication in. Some go to a weekend course and call themselves a shaman, master and guru and charge people. There are going to be people like that and some may be very talented and do very good, others not so much. These people may or may not have the personal skills to deal with people. I and many other spiritual practitioners put a tremendous amount of our life energy into learning and that benefits our clients.

Becoming a spiritual practitioner costs time and money.

Other then the amount of time it took to get the knowledge the spiritual practitioner has, it usually involves monetary cost. Books and workshops are not free. The costs can add up very quickly.Yes there are free sources of information online, but not all of them are quality. I’ve also found that my broad knowledge base helps me to integrate what I read into the framework I already have. Other people may not have that framework because they haven’t learned as much. And that is okay, but a lot of times online sources have skewed, fragmented, biased or incorrect information.

In order to pay for my training I have given up other things, just like anyone else who receives training in some field. If someone else who has paid for their years of training should get paid, shouldn’t a spiritual practitioner also?

Some spiritual traditions it is customary to pay to be initiated into that can cost thousands of dollars. These people go through intense training and their initiations ensure their traditions are passed on correctly.

Once you have the knowledge, working with Spirit is still not free

Even if I stopped learning, there are still on going costs with the traditional spiritual lifestyle. I use many tools such as candles, incense, crystals,  sage etc in my practice. These all have a cost and are used to honor spirit, ask for help, make sure I am prepared correctly, and are often used in the services I do for others even if it is not directly listed in the description. For example, I have special music aimed for childhood healing, and other purposes and Spirit will direct me to have a certain song playing for that healing. I need to have the song, the connection to spirit, the ability to hear spirit and the means to play the song.

I’m sure if I could not afford them, Spirit would still speak with me, but when you are paying for a professional I believe you are also paying for them to have their spiritual connections help you. This involves daily prayer, meditation and talking to Spirit everyday to form a friendship. If you ignore your spirits they will ignore you and may not help when you ask. That’s fine if your a personal practitioner, but if your working with others you better know if Spirit is willing to help or not. If you don’t have a relationship your not going to know the signs or be able to speak to them as effectively

Because I work with others I need to protected and cleansed because if I’m dealing with your spiritual muck, I’m going to get my aura dirty. This takes time, dedication and supplies. If I prepare an herbal spiritual bath for myself to cleanse myself after working on clients I have to take the time to mix the herbs, pray over them, burn a candle and incense. I need to know how to do this, where to get supplies, and how to do all this.

The argument if you choose to be spiritual anyway, then your time and cost of working with spirit shouldn’t matter is irrelevant.

If you would like to be so bold as to ignore the fact that a spiritual practitioner will generally need to be on a higher caliber then your average person, if they are running a business they have other expenses that are called overhead. This includes, internet, phone, web hosting fees, electrical, water, possibly rental space, accounting, taxes, and office supplies. Office supplies can include a computer, printer, printer paper, toner, notebooks, writing utensils. There can be insurance or professional fees. Being a business owner is much more then just the hour they spend with you. If they cannot make ends meet then they can not provide you a professional space or environment because they won’t be able to afford the practical things that make the other stuff possible.

Not only is having a business expensive supply wise, there is the time dedication to learn how to be a business owner, write up information, edit it. Take care of all the little things that need taking care of that most take foregranted. Unfortunately being a business owner, no matter the type, is mainly doing things that are not related to whatever service or product you are offering.

But you don’t need business things to do professional work for others

If a person doesn’t have a webpage, or office space, then how are you going to find them? How are you going to communicate with them? If they come to your house they will need to pay for transportation.

Not all traditional healers/spiritual workers did everything for free

I had just over a year of training with an Osage elder. He encouraged me to do my regularly healing for clients paid. It was understood however that I would not charge for anything he taught me how to do. There can be lines of what to charge for and what not to charge for.

But besides that in traditional cultures, there was a different way of being. Many times if the healer didn’t charge the person would bring something along for trade. Even my Osage teacher said that if someone showed up for a sweatlodge they may not pay, but they’d bring a gift. For certain requests, you would offer tobacco while asking. When I went to see a traditional Native American healer I was told to bring a gift as well as tobacco. Another Native healer I traded gifts for an herbal concoction. There was still value traded.

Some indigenous cultures actually required specific payment. It can be something as specific as a silver coin, or more generic. Not all indigenous healers worked for free.

People take forgranted what is free

It is sad, but I have personal experience with this and have heard it from others. I knew of one tarot reader who started out by going to restaurants and sitting in a corner to do readings for donations. She told me that she had to implement a set fee because those who were poor would root around in their purses for their last dollars, while those of greater monetary wealth would generally give her barely anything for her time. She said that getting paid $1 for an hour of her time happened more often then she liked to admit.

I, and other professionals I have spoken to, have found that when a person is paying, or trading they take it much more seriously. It is kind of sad that it takes exchange to recognize the gift of someone else’s time and talent but it is true. They listen to what you are saying and appreciate what you are doing more. Because of that, whatever you do actually has a greater impact.

There was one time I had a friend who called me up extremely depressed and was having a very hard time dealing and he wanted my spiritual help. He lived 25 minutes away, and I had an old car that was having frequent starting issues. It was somewhat dangerous for me to go because if it didn’t start I’d have no way home and it was winter. I also had a stack of paying clients that I needed to get to and I was behind and tired. Despite this, I promised to drop everything and help him with a spiritual healing without my standard fees. I went all out, hoping to help him, and I have never forgotten how he laughed me like it was a big joke when I began healing him which is what he asked for. With no thank you after, it was clear he did not appreciate me dropping my entire life, my clients, putting myself in danger of not being able to get home, and spending two hours of my life helping him. I don’t know if he was as depressed as he said. He didn’t seem it when I was there, but sometimes it isn’t readily obvious. This person did not last long in my life, for numerous reasons.

I may be willing to trade at times for services, but the issue with that is it is hard to trade when people aren’t local. Times have changed. Money is an easy and efficient way of exchanging value with someone. Also, someone may not be able to offer anything to trade that the practitioner may need. Money is universal and helps prevent that.