All great achievements come at a price. In fact, every dream, discovery, invention, business deal, artistic pursuit, ministry, relationship, project, hobby, or activity — each and every great human endeavor — has its own price tag. Whether it’s building a lasting marriage, raising great kids, achieving some long-held goal or realizing your vision, if you plan to accomplish anything worthwhile in life then you’ll need to count the cost.
Once we understand this truth, we’ll tend to analyze and evaluate every goal and situation. We’ll start counting the cost before committing to something new. After all, would you agree to purchase an item without first knowing its price? Probably not. Because any investment or expenditure must fit into your budget and not overdraw your account.
“Jesus said … ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62 ESV) “…Don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?” (Luke 14:28 NLT)
Once we stop long enough to count the cost in time, energy, effort, sacrifice, patience, love, understanding, and faithfulness, we won’t be so quick to enter in to just any relationship or project. Knowing we’re accountable when it comes to “paying the tab” might keep us from blindly charging into things. And the things we do decide to commit to, we’ll do so wholeheartedly, knowing the cost and being mentally prepared to pay it.
Any noble enterprise, creative pursuit, great cause — everything “begins with a dream, a fantasy, a goal that looms on the distant horizon,” states Emmy Award-winning comedy writer Gene Perret. (Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul) “But [we] must realize, too, that every goal has a price tag. Admission to a fantasy [or dream] is never free. There’s research to be done, studying to do, practice, practice, practice. The cheapest, and usually the quickest, way to attain any desire is to pay the full price. Do the work.”
Hard work, however, isn’t always the only “currency” we’ll be paying. Some endeavors come at a truly great price and demand far more, in terms of time, energy, and emotional endurance. So it helps to be psychologically prepared; ready to give it your best shot, so to speak. As the author Charles Bukowski once wrote: “If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start.”
In other words, if you’re going to make a go of something, make a “good go” of it. No half-hearted attempts. “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Colossians 3:23 King James 2000) That said, remember it should always be the Lord whom we strive to please, not others — and certainly not ourselves, by attempting to fill some personal need to be rich and famous. Instead we should long to become all God created us to be. Yes, He wants to help us fulfill our dreams, but that’s just the icing on the cake.
Regardless, before you take on a new responsibility or dive into a new pursuit, you should:
- Learn before hand what the price is — and what you’re getting into. Spare yourself and your loved ones any unnecessary heartaches. Once you understand the cost of realizing ANY dream, and make a commitment to pay the price, no matter what, you’ll be more likely to follow through on every endeavor.
- Understand what you’re saying NO to. Every time you say YES to new project, pursuit, commitment, etc., you’re automatically saying NO to something else.
Achieving a worthwhile goal takes time and energy; and each of us, unfortunately, is limited by these precious commodities. Hence, not one of us can ever hope to do it all. So when we follow our dreams, we’ll ultimately have to leave our comfort zones behind — and abandon some of our more trivial pursuits. This truth applies to every great cause, every noble quest.
Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering….]” (Matthew 16:24 AMP)
A disciple is one who adheres to a belief or cause; who learns discipline, and trains to follow a way of life, or a course of action. In a manner of speaking, all creators and dreamers are disciples: to reach our goals we must learn, train, and practice within our chosen fields of interest; and we must discipline ourselves if we are to complete the journey. And, like Christ’s spiritual disciples, we have to bear the cross of our own hopes and dreams.
Christ’s cross was made of wood. It was large, heavy — and Christ labored to carry it uphill to Calvary, where He was nailed to it. This sounds like an unpleasant finish, but it was only the beginning. After His death, Christ rose from the grave to take His place next to the Heavenly Father. And through His crucifixion, Christ realized His great dream of redeeming humankind from their sins; thus securing the eternal salvation of all who trust in Him.
The cross of Christ represents our Lord’s greatest achievement, but that achievement came at a terrible price — the death of God’s only Son. Following Christ wholeheartedly, as a disciple, also comes with a price. It involves bearing a cross of unwavering commitment and self-sacrifice.
Similarly, there are times when even our fondest hopes, dreams, and creative endeavors can feel like a cross. We’ll labor to bear the weight, struggling to carry our “burdens” all the way to the finish line, on a journey that’s mostly uphill. And, like true disciples, along the way we’ll have to deny ourselves many of the comforts and pleasures most people take for granted.
But that’s the price we pay to achieve something great, with blood, sweat, and often more than a few tears. The good news is that we can accomplish great things. Furthermore, God has promised, “Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy.” (Psalm 126:5 NLT)
Got a dream to fulfill? Count the cost. Be committed to give it your best; disciplined in your thinking, attitude, words, habits, and how you spend your time; always ready to foot the bill (without neglecting God — your first priority — or the people closest to you). Then stick with the plan and pay the price.