“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 NIV)
You will agree with me that often our thoughts are full of plans and schemes to do a project or buy one thing or the other. In most cases such plans and schemes are way out of our financial abilities in terms of cost. In the above Scripture Jesus was using this analogy to teach an often ignored principle. Simply put; the Lord is saying to us that we ought to weigh our abilities of finishing what we intend to do before we begin. In business this is similar to setting up your business plan, acquiring both sufficient resources and finances as well as doing all the necessary research before launching the business.
It is quite depressing to see many shells of otherwise good projects stagnating and becoming ‘white elephants’ just because the initiators did not do their math well; and subsequently ran out of resources before the project was completed. Many noble plans have ground to a halt because of failure to count the cost right, be they individual or corporate efforts. In order to be successful one has to have a good plan to realize a stress free success.
THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Jesus was in effect telling His disciples that it was not going to be cheap to be a follower. In one terse verse He categorically told the crowd that had been following Him, you are free to follow me – BUT- at your cost! In other words no free loading in His ministry for those taking the call as to join as ministers! In effect Jesus was their foundation and it was for them to have what it takes to build upon the foundation whatever ‘tower’ they were planning to construct.
So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. (Isa 28:16 NIV)
The Lord was laying it open to the crowd that to go into ministry with Him was to be able to walk in faith; and believe that whatever one has started will succeed. Of course the ‘cross’ part of following the Lord is not easy! It is heavy, burdensome and often painful! That is why you see many servants resigning from the work of ministry when the cost becomes unbearable. Others turn to church coffers to meet pressing personal needs, thereby effectively killing the morale of giving by the congregation or members of the ministry. Many of the current successful ministers we hear and see, had their ‘cross’ bearing moments before they saw success in ministry. Their cost counting included the valleys before they arrived at the hill tops.
THERE ARE MANY TOWERS IN OUR LIVES
What is the tower you are building or intend to build? Could it be that educational upgrade you have yearned or a house you can call your home? Are you planning to purchase a car; take a dream vacation or plan for your wedding? There are many towers that one can build depending on what your dreams are. The principle of the Lord however is still applicable regardless of what it is you plan to do or achieve. Many people rush into a project or enter into a deal and yet have no tangible fall back plan in case things do not turn out well. I have heard of people who import cars only for the same to be auctioned for lack payment of duty at the ports of entry thereby loosing hard earned currency. Others have embarked on building houses that have remained at the foundation level for years while they themselves still live in rental units that are costing them dearly every month; yet the cumulative rent to date could easily have bought one or two houses!
Let me share this example of how my wife and I built our present home. I remember when we wanted to build our own house in a plot we had bought; many people counseled and advised us to start a permanent structure. Personally I was tired of paying rent and felt that we can use the money for other things if only we had our own home. The amount we had however was not enough to build a permant structure and we had to plan for something we could manage; so we decided to do the next best but wisest thing: we built a temporary structure which our savings could cover. Eventually when we moved into our temporary wood and tin home we were so happy and relieved that we were finally free of bills and landlords! Thereafter we started to accumulate materials for a permanent house at a pace we could manage utilizing the money we saved from rent for our then still-in-the-future-dream-house. I remember a neighbor one day asked us over the fence when we hoped to built a house – that is after he saw our timber and tin roof structure. I gathered to him what we were living in was not a house! Well that was not his business really; we were going to build when we were good and ready, and in God’s best time. Definitely not when a nosy neighbor says!
When the time finally came to build a permanent house, it was both easy and fun. In less than five months the structure was up and it was just a matter of it curing, finishing and moving in. This was possible because we had planned for it for a long time and accumulated the major materials. When Gods’ time was at hand for us to built, we grasped it and moved with speed. Imagine if we had embarked on the foundation for a permanent house, we would most probably have remained in a rental house for a longer period of time.
Looking back, I realize that it takes God up front to provide the wisdom and the opportunities in life. It is for us to grasp the moment, recognize the right time of God’s visitation and plunge in. Above all; planning and implementing projects together as husband and wife has given us a clear vision in which we have managed to realize our objectives.
COUNT YOUR COSTS WELL
Beloved, it is my wish in sharing our family experiences that you may draw some other view of how to ‘build’ your life ‘towers’. The Lord’s desire for all is to work and walk from a position of rest. When He talks of taking your cross and following Him, He means walking with Him within that which you can manage. I sincerely believe His Word does not mean that we struggle uphill all the time. It helps if we can serve Him when we have less heavy personal baggage, otherwise we risk putting the work of the Lord into disrepute-just like stagnated construction projects that we see doting the country side.
Beloved allow me to point out one area where cost counting has gone completely out of sync with reality. It pains me to see young people struggle to save and raise thousands of shillings just to be able to execute a one day feast in the name of a major wedding ceremony. Yet often when you look at the couple; the budgeted wedding money could become a good start to set them on a business or acquire property that would in the end make their lives much better! Of course there are those who can afford the parties and thirty thousand dollar ceremonies, but the majority of cases that I have seen have either had to struggle to save, fundraise or even proceeded to take out huge loans which later on become heavy burdens on their young lives for a long time. If only we can be realistic and see the truth as it is, then life would be that much better for young couples.
Ministers of the gospel should offer wise counsel to young people on what is biblical and what pure fads are! To be honest, the white garments and suits are never a necessity in a marriage ceremony; neither are the many maids and aides or expensive cars. In some countries where this practice has died, couples just walk in to a licensed minister’s office accompanied by their witness and they wed. Why I pray are we stuck in such exorbitantly prized weddings here in Africa yet those who brought it to us have left it to the super-rich and royalty? When shall we wake up to reality in this ever expensive world? What is wrong if a couple weds, say after a Sunday service, and proceed for a dinner somewhere to celebrate without the exorbitantly prized ceremonies that include feeding an entire village? I salute some churches that have begun to move away from the wasteful type of weddings and do offer weddings without the costly frills, just as long as the bare minimum requirements are met by the parties concerned. In effect exorbitant wedding practices have really caused competition among the young people who are planning to wed. Others have become fearful and postponed their marriage due to cost, while others have gone into come-we-stay arrangements. All because of unnecessary costs!
Some years ago I witnessed a wedding that was largely funded on money collected from friends end up on the rocks within months of the marriage. My humble counsel is that in whatever one does, let them plan what they can easily afford and live with it. If you can, exclude others in your plans and do your thing; but if you must involve others, use your relatives and or trusted friends. The church has no business in the planning and the conducting of pre-wedding parties as well as fundraising for the same. This is purely a personal matter of the groom and his pride. The church is limited to counseling and tying the nuptials. Let the churches concentrate on the core issue of the gospel.
I had a chat once with a former colleague on the issue of pre-weddings and he cited Genesis 24 concerning the betrothal of Rebecca to Isaac where both his family and Eliezer gave her expensive trinkets before she could leave her home. Well for one, Abraham the father of Isaac could afford all the gold and silver he wished to give; and Rebecca’s family on the other hand were not poor either. Secondly, this was purely a family affair! And who knows may be this was the custom in Middle East then for families to bless the young pride. In a nutshell however, what matters is the economic reality of the day.
In some Arabic communities, a groom is first expected to purchase a sizeable amount of golden jewelry like; nose-pins, rings, bangles, earrings and necklaces; which must be presented to the pride during the wedding day and these shall belong to her for ever. Upon enquiring about this practice, I was told that since their Islamic faith allows up to four wives at any one time with possibilities of divorce thereafter, the trinkets are the only things of real value that a divorced woman can leave the home with.
AVOID THE PITFALLS
In concluding, let me say that many uncompleted projects we see could have been avoided if only the executors would have sought advice from experts and those who have gone before them in the road of implementation. Consult those who have succeeded on their secrets and also those who tried and failed on the reasons of failure in order that may you avoid them. A bit of research comes in handy and could reveal the hidden surprises. Secondly, review your plans and let some one whom you trust review them too before the big jump.
Finally, it is your soul responsibility to separate what is good from what is bad in respect to the many advises you are bound to get from everyone. It is your responsibility to use what is useable and discard the trashy ones.
Looking back in my life, I can now see some areas that I should have done differently. Likewise I have enjoyed every good decision that we have made as a family and seen their fruition. It pays to plan every facet of your life; and if you are married, plan your things together as a team; there is no room for unilateral planning in marriage where God Himself has ordained that the two has become one. Those panning to enter into matrimony, I beseech you; it does not have to cost you heaven and earth!
The bottom line is plan: someone said; if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you have given us your Holy Spirit with all His fruits. Help us to use the wisdom and knowledge that you so graciously offer us so that we may walk in victory and abundance. I pray that where we have not been discerning before, grant us the ability to do so now. Direct us to good godly advice so that we do not embark on projects that are bound to fail. I also pray for anyone who is in the process of planning their dream houses, car purchase, education, business or whatever tower they desire to erect, that Lord they will not stagnate, they will not become laughing stocks but fully realize their objectives for the glory of your name. Thank you for past success stories, thank you also for future victories too. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. AMEN.