I have to admit that my wife and I were a little naïve sometimes in the months right after we were married. It was obvious the day this fast-talking vacuum cleaner salesman showed up at our apartment door. He showed us this high-powered machine that did everything but the laundry. He lured us with impressive demonstrations, he offered us an easy payment plan, and a deal (of course) that we had to act on immediately. Well, Mr. Newlywed here eagerly signed on the line. “All right! Hey, I am the proud owner of a high-tech vacuum cleaner! About five times more vacuum cleaner than our apartment could possibly need!” By the next day, I wanted out, but guess what? I couldn’t back out then. In my enthusiasm, I had simply left out the most important ingredient in the decision.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about “How to Make a Decision You’ll Like a Year From Now.”
My big mistake in buying Mighty Vac? I really didn’t think about the cost over the long haul. It’s a step that’s been left out of lots of decisions people make – maybe yours.
In our word for today from the Word of God, Jesus is discussing the most life-changing decision of all, which is following Him. And He reveals a key to making that decision and really, to making any important choice. In Luke 14, beginning in verse 28, Jesus says, “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’… In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.”
Jesus says, “When you’re considering following Me, count the cost.” Actually, that’s a prerequisite to any good decision – a realistic look at what it’s going to cost you. Whether it’s a decision about marriage, moving, leaving school, postponing school, changing jobs, making a purchase, getting serious in a relationship, or taking on a responsibility, or quitting; any major choice. Like me buying that vacuum cleaner, we’re quick to see the advantages…what we’ll gain by saying yes. But Jesus says, “First, sit down and estimate the cost.” Will you be able to finish what you’re getting into? Will you feel good a few months in – a few years in?
One of life’s greatest causes of depression is the gap between expectations and reality: what I thought this was going to be like and what it’s really like. But by doing your homework – looking ahead and projecting the cost – you can help reduce that gap. It’s the step we so often leave out.
We tend to decide impulsively, to sell ourselves on what we want to do, to do it without asking a lot of questions, and to run ahead without seeking guidance from God and sometimes quickly brushing off the guidance that doesn’t fit the narrative we want. And when the bill comes – there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of regret – most of which could have been avoided by counting the cost.
Before you make your choice, would you make an honest list of what you’ll lose in the deal, what could go wrong, what could change, what or who it could affect later, and how it will affect the key people in your life. This doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t do it. It means you walk into your decision knowing the cost and choosing to pay it.
Good decisions are based on a calculator, not good feelings – not a good sales pitch. Take it from a guy who got sucked into more vacuum cleaner than he ever needed. But the bill will come. And in the words of Jesus, “First, sit down and estimate the cost.” Make a decision that will still look good months from now, years from now, because two of the sweetest words in the world are these: “no regrets.”