Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Power of Prudence

This week on the Catholic Writer's Conference Online, I've been spending one day on each of the seven habits that good writers need to cultivate (which, interestingly enough, correspond to the "celestial virtues" I talk about in Raising Up Mommy).

When I got to greed, of course, I talked about how important it is to be willing to give of your talents even if you do not receive immediate financial compensation for them.

Then my husband called to say that our tax bill was due, and could I please transfer some money into the account? I looked at my business balance ... hmmm. Well, Lord?

There is a fine line between greed and fiscal responsibility. Frankly, I'm not there yet. And as I sat there, contemplating how to bring in some extra cash in a short amount of time, two things happened.

First, PayPal sent me an alert that someone had placed an order. I clicked ... It was the largest single order I've had to date. Gratefully, I autographed the books and sent them out.

Then the phone rang. A woman on the West Coast was calling me to find out how much it would cost for me to speak to their homeschooling mom's group. I quoted her the same price that I had recently charged another women's group. Her gasp was audible, and I misunderstood the source of her consternation. "I know it sounds like a lot, but when you factor in the cost of childcare..."

She laughed at me, and told me that her church had recently been charged five times the rate I'd quoted her to bring in another speaker, plus expenses. (She told me who, but my lips are sealed.) "You really should be charging at least three times the rate you quoted me. You're short changing your family, and you're shortchanging your ministry. You are a nationally known speaker and a published author. You've been on EWTN, which means you are now INTERNATIONALLY known ... you should never go ANYWHERE for less than _____."

I gulped, and asked her if she'd be my agent.

Now, it could be that the woman was just telling me what I wanted to hear, and that it was just a coincidence that her phone call tailed my husband's.

Or, it could be that God was trying to tell me something.

"A workman is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7). In ministry, it's important to be open to all the opportunities God has for us, and yet prudence is also a vital -- and necessary -- component. It does not honor God if we are so busy "ministering" that we neglect our own families.

It's a balance I'm still trying to strike. Thanks to this kind caller (who is probably kicking herself for not giving me that little pep talk AFTER she negotiated the deal with me) ... I know that it's OK to set the bar a little higher.


Judy Joyce said...

Thank you for your thoughtful insight into both virtues (Prudence) and vices (envy) on today's blog and as a topic for our on-line Catholic Writers Guild Conference. With this heart of gold, how could I not go one step further by taking your advice to visit like-minded blogs and say so.

Imagine my delight to read here that you experienced the happy coincidence of receiving news of unexpected income right when you needed it. I hope to meet you at the Atlanta Conference and exchange more of God's glances there

Coincidence: God's way of remaining anonymous.

Take care, Judy Joyce

Veritas said...

I enjoyed reading this, Heidi. It's amazing how quickly we get responses to softly uttered questions or doubts, proving of course that we're never really alone!
I also enjoyed Judy's definition of coincidence - I've never come across it before - it's really so true.

sksherwin said...

Wow, Heidi -- that's a great story! Thanks for sharing it -- what a great testament to that awesome passage in Matthew (6:25-34) about how we needn't worry because God takes care of us. I'm definitely going to pass this post along to a couple people ...