Editor's note: This is the third time I've re-written this post.  The first time, it didn't have the right feel, and last time, I thought that I was knocking it out of the park and with a mis-click of the mouse, I erased all of the new edits.  I hadn't saved.  So hopefully, with version #3, I'll find a way to say what I'd like to, in a style that works, and I'll save it.

On the heels of Mike Sessler's article, "Why hire an integrator", I'd like to follow up. 

Some tech projects are fairly easy, if you have the right tools, the right experience, and have a good sense of where you're going. 

At the church I attend, our tech budget is pretty limited and within the next month or so, I will have to decide whether to lead a volunteer crew or to hire our crew to do the work.  In my volunteer role, I know exactly what I need to do, I know how to do it, I know the list of materials, and I have willing volunteers.  A consideration is that it'll take our group of volunteers about a month's worth of Monday nights or every evening for almost a week.  For the same project, one of our two-man crews would get that work done in about a day and a half. 

So I have to ask myself what the best use of our money and our volunteer time is. 

Here are the reasons for not hiring professionals to do the work.  "We can't afford to pay someone to do that." Or "we have plenty of volunteers who will do that and it won't cost us anything."  And "it's important for our people to serve the church, so our 'guys' will do that." 

Without debating the merit of those reasons, the projects that work out best (and that get finished more quickly so that the congregation has the benefit of the changes) are the ones that we pay for.  Volunteers may cost nothing, in terms of price, but their availability is finite and valuable.  Just ask your kids what your time is worth. 

We all want to find a place where we can contribute in a tangible way and serving is an important part of our spiritual growth, but nothing comes without a cost.

As I decide how to manage these projects, I hope to consider the value of those who serve with me.  So I ask myself these questions.  Are the time expectations reasonable?  Do the volunteers have good tools and adequate training or skills?  Is my own commitment to lead as strong as what I ask of my team?  Do they have better things that they could be doing - at church and at home? 

And then I decide whether I'm spending other people's time wisely.