No one begins a project with the expressed desire it will fail.
Our intentions are always to finish what we start and do so with excellence. Our lives gain value when we see something through to the end.
Finishing is huge for our psyche. Unfortunately, we don’t start at the finish and instantaneously get that thrill of victory we so desperately crave. We start at the beginning, which can be a very unnerving place to be.
The one thing that is always present at the start is fear. It fills our head with scary questions like “Can I do this?” “What will other people think?” and “What if I mess up?” It can paralyze our spirit, thwart our desire and lead us in directions we’d rather not go.
Fortunately, there is a method that will set us on the right path. It comes from an illustration Jesus gave while discussing the high cost of discipleship.
Count the Cost
On one occasion in Luke 14, Jesus turned to the multitude that was following him and said, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” Then he gave them this illustration:
“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it – lest, after he has laid the 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 14:28-30)
Following Jesus was no casual endeavor. Those who would call themselves disciples needed the utmost commitment. They needed to know in advance what their endeavor would cost and be prepared to endure through the hardships to the very end.
Their situation was akin to that of a builder who lays out plans in advance of his construction project. He doesn’t go in blindly, hoping it will turn out just right. He sits down before the first stone is laid with his blueprints and makes sure he has accounted for all possible known contingencies.
His blueprints are the key to success. They show him the big picture while at the same time focusing on the details.
When we have a blueprint in hand there is greater confidence in the journey because we’ve already counted the costs. We are reasonably sure of what steps come next. There is certainly less chance of succumbing to fear because something is showing us the way.
Counting the costs in advance was key to the success of the builder in Jesus’ example. He’d finish what he started because he developed a plan and knew what was coming.
Interestingly enough, we tend to avoid blueprints when it comes to our finances. Even though many have shown us how to be successful, we’d rather muddle through in our own way. Rather than follow a process that has already been proven we’d choose to haphazardly throw ideas up against the wall and see what sticks.
Why do we not plan? Why do we ignore what has been shown to work? Why would we risk a future of uncertainty when the path to financial health and security seems fairly obvious?
Is it because we make excuses? Or maybe we are worried what others will think of our newfound enthusiasm for planning. Perhaps we don’t even see our need.
Whatever reason we convince ourselves of, it’s the wrong path to take. No one ever wins with money by ignoring or by winging it. Those who fail to plan will not gain traction and consequently struggle with money their entire life.
What Does the Plan Involve?
I said the path to financial health was obvious but maybe you don’t feel that way. Perhaps you are struggling and have no idea where to start. If that’s the case I’ve got good news and bad news.
The bad news (which should always come first) is this – no two lives are the same. I have circumstances you’ll never face and vice versa. Your financial life is personal and unique to your own life situations. You can’t exactly copy everything I do or everything Peter suggests here at Bible Money Matters.
The good news is that every successful financial plan involves five basic priorities:
- Building savings
- Getting out of debt
- Controlling spending
- Investing for future needs
- Developing a giving plan
That’s it. If you can manage those five things you’ll do well. However, for each key area you’ll have to plan ahead and count the cost (i.e. weigh the sacrifices) of what will be necessary to achieve each goal. More importantly though you must be willing to follow through once the plan is in place.
Those who counted the cost of following Jesus were willing to die for him (an ending which most of them realized). While no one today is asking you to die for your money, can you honestly say your conviction to financial health is a serious one? What will you sacrifice to ensure you finish well?
Questions: Have you ever begun a project without really having a plan? How did it go? What sacrifices have you made to ensure financial health? What area of personal finance do you have the most trouble planning for?