A woman who had experienced a painful divorce consulted me for counseling, hoping to find restoration in Christ and to learn how to emotionally support her troubled children.
“How much will this cost?” Beth asked me with a mixture of fear and anger in her voice. Prior to our meeting, she had contacted several Christian counselors, all of whom charged more than she could afford. Unable to pay such fees, she was cut off from the possibility of counseling, leading her to feel angry and vulnerable.
Having determined Beth’s desperate financial situation, I handed her my fee scale and responded, “I operate on a sliding scale. Those I counsel usually agree to pay one of the five fee slots shown on this sheet. If you can pay nothing, I will still counsel you and count it as part of my giving to the Lord.”
Each time this scene repeats itself, I struggle with the question of Christian counselors charging fees that the poor cannot afford—the same practice followed by most of our secular counterparts. When this happens, many low and even middle-income families cannot receive desperately needed counseling unless they incur large debts.
Christian counselors are not the only professionals who must guard against falling into this trap. Dentists, doctors, lawyers, and other Christian professionals also unintentionally deprive the poor of their services by charging a uniform fee. Usually it is too much for a family on a lower income and with limited insurance.
Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against Christian professionals charging fees that provide a solid income and comfortable lifestyle. Our earnings reflect the years of intense, costly training necessary to our professions. But ...1
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