Seth Godin describes a freelancer as one who gets paid when they work and only works when they get paid. More fundamental than the economics of this is that freelancers are the people who get things done by doing them themselves. If a freelancer wants to get a project done, the freelancer does it herself. She draws up the designs and executes the plan and then reaps the rewards or outcomes. If she does not do any of this then the project is not accomplished.
This is not a bad way to live. In fact it is a very liberating way to live a way that many people choose and do well at. Most people and churches in recent decades, we have been trained that the senior pastor is a freelance minister. If the church or the people were going to accomplish a project then it was dependant upon the minister to do most (if not all) the work. This is not a bug in the system but a direct result of the fact that ministers usually have the largest communication platform (pulpit) and the collectively recognized authority (maybe not the power but the authority) and so it only made sense that if anything was going to get done in the church or by the people it would require the ministers active participation.
Some ministers horde onto that sense of power that comes with getting the church to move, and amp up their position so that really nothing happens without their awareness and blessing and even work. Out of fear or intimidation or ignorance of what to do, many lay members become unable to experience ministry autonomy, mastery or purpose.
Most ministers are freelancers who are stressed out and burned out trying to meet the expectations of getting everything done. There are so many articles and reflections on why ministers are burned out and much of it comes from the expectation that the minister needs to do it all. Like a freelancer, the minister has to prove their worth/value.
Conversely, Godin offers up that there is another way to be in the business world and that is one of an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are people who build a system so that everyone else is better at their job then the entrepreneur is. Work happens on projects even when the entrepreneur is asleep. The entrepreneur is one who in constantly disrupting the system in order to promote risk taking - something that freelancers do not have time or sometimes the desire to do. It is in taking risks that future, unseen growth can happen.
While the freelancer can do great things, the entrepreneur can scale those great things up to affect larger groups or people.
One way is not better than the other. The both have their drawbacks. Godin's argument is not that we should live one way or the other, but that we are clear on what sort of dent we want to make in the universe. Be a freelancer or an entrepreneur - but not both at the sametime.