Counting the Cost or Paying the Price

Counting the Cost or Paying the Price

All throughout life, we’re confronted with this conundrum of counting the cost or paying the price. I think the challenges are far greater in our younger days than as we get older.

When I was much younger, I thought getting married was the best idea ever. When I got married at 18, right out of high school, I thought I’d arrived! Little did I know that 12 years later, I’d be divorced, with a 10-year-old son, and a high school education. I learned that I was going to pay the price for choosing marriage at 18 over an education. While I’m thrilled I have a son, fabulous daughter-in-law and amazing grandchildren, I found I had to work really hard at having everything my son and I needed as he grew up.

I was so challenged by my life that I started college at 35 and finished my masters at 40. I paid the price of not counting the cost and took five years out of my life, at great cost in my relationship with my son and more as I worked really hard at completing an education.

Jesus tells two stories back to back about the importance of counting the cost. They are both found in Luke 14.  The first story goes like this:

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' Luke 14:28-30

The second is similar and says,

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. Luke 14:31-32

Both stories would have had strong significance to His hearers. In the first story, an amphitheater nearby had collapsed in 27 A.D. with approximately 50,000 lives lost. Poorly constructed structures were well-known. In the second story, Herod Antipas, had gone to war in 29 A.D., without counting the cost and paid the price in the loss of men, armaments and plunder.

Jesus continues the story by saying,

So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!” Luke 14:33-35

You may be wondering what these stories have to do with leadership since all of these verses seem to reference discipleship.  I think these stories are life lessons not just leadership or discipleship lessons, but I think the application is for all of life.

Let’s think for a minute about life. I gave two examples at the beginning of this blog about my own life experiences of not counting the cost but paying the price. I would imagine with a few minutes of thinking, you could identify some similar life stories that fit into this paradigm.

I find that these concepts also fit into the church world. I wonder how many times a church has cut a corner or two in the purchase of materials, building supplies, hiring or releasing staff members and discovered that in not effectively counting the cost, they paid a much higher price.

What about in the business community? I think the same applies here, as well. When a business leader wants to land a new client, or a nonprofit sees a possibility of financial resources on the horizon, the temptation to offer more, deliver more, promise more, overcommit, etc. comes into play. Then paying the price becomes a bigger drain on resources, staff time and more.

Jesus' wisdom plays into every part of life.So, for the next decision you have to make, will you hope that you escape paying the price or will you follow Jesus’ method, count the cost, and be wise!

Jesus' wisdom plays into every part of life

The choice is up to you and to me! Choose wisely!

Read more like this:

When Will Won't Do? (Blog)

How Well Do You Know Yourself? (Blog)

When Things Don't Go According to Our Plan (Podcast)


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Karen McGuire

Karen McGuire came to Lead Like Jesus in February 2004 following the first Lead Like Jesus Celebration in Birmingham, Alabama, in November 2003, where she served as the volunteer coordinator. She comes with vast experience in local church ministry and denominational work and has been instrumental in the formation of several successful nonprofit ventures, including two churches, a seminary, a medical missions organization, and a welfare-to-work program. Karen served on several church staffs, held many volunteer positions in her local church, and is a Bible study teacher and seminar and retreat leader. She has one son and two young adult granddaughters.

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