Quick story: My daughter Emily mentors a third-grader in one of the poorest elementary schools in Spokane. Her mentee brought along a friend last time, and in the short 30 minutes they had together, the new girl revealed: 1) She “used to smoke weed”, 2) her mom smokes weed, and 3) her 16 year old sister is pregnant. This little 3rd grader actually said: “I wish I had a mentor”.
Quick Story #2: In 1519, Hernán Cortés, the Spanish Conquistador, had arrived in the newly discovered Mexico. Cortés commanded that that his expedition ships be burned so that his men would be forced to conquer the land and natives, or die trying. (Not to glorify or endorse his actions as he was a horrendous brute.)
Two years ago this month, my wife Debbie and I had a “burn the ships” moment when we decided to take on the missional role at the GSAE, submitting to God, and allowing Him to use us to reach Spokane for Christ. In doing so, we would be “burning the ships” of our retirement account long before we anticipated doing so. That little 3rd grade girl? She’s the reason we decided to “set the boats ablaze”.
The Point: Jesus instructed his disciples around the same concept as Cortés, but with the eternal Kingdom in mind and using different language. He said we should “count the cost”, and he put it in terms of constructing a building.
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’
~ Luke 14:27-30
Jesus was saying “Look at the goal, and determine what it will take to get there. Building a tower? Count what those construction costs are, and then make a decision as to whether you’re willing spend the capital to do it.”
For Cortés to conquer the land, he knew it would cost him his ships, any possible escape route, and perhaps their lives. For my friend Larry who heard God calling him into full-time ministry at his church, the Lord called him to give up his beautiful motorcycle. He counted the cost (giving up his dream bike), and he made the decision to sell it. He decided that following Christ was more important than a sweet ride.
In our family, we knew without question that God was calling me into the GSAE leadership position. The cost? It would mean giving up a career in real estate, spending our retirement to live on for a while, and downsizing/selling our home in the country.
Wouldn’t it be sad if I chose to accept the role of director, but instead of counting the cost we tried to keep our home on 8 acres with a fabulous view? There is no way we could have afforded it. We would have eventually lost the home, or I would have had to quit the GSAE position and go back into a salaried job to make ends meet. Then all who saw me would “begin to mock… saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’”
The Goal: Reach that little girl who desperately needs a mentor. If we hadn’t counted the cost as a family, that young lady would have never met my daughter. And how tragic would that be?
What ministry or service is God calling you to do? Have you counted the cost? I can assure you from my own experience, this is where some of life’s deepest prayer can be found!
“Show me the right path, O LORD; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you”
~ Psalm 25:4-5
Notice that the psalmist assures God’s guidance and direction in the same song as he tells of God saving the desperate soul.
When we surveyed Spokane-area church leaders (from small and large churches) for our Biblical Leadership Development initiative, we asked them what their greatest challenges were. We got a two-way tie for the #1 challenge:
– Holding people accountable, and
– Building engagement and commitment among our people
This tells me that Spokane-area pastors struggle every day to persuade ‘Joe and Jane Believer’ to take the next step in their walk with Christ – service.
When was the last time you asked God:
What do you want me to do?
And then you asked yourself:
What will it take to do it?
Am I willing to follow His leading?
I assure you that if you ask Him, He will answer. He will also give you the strength to follow-through, and your walk with Christ will deepen far more than you can imagine.