Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you sit down first and figure out how much it will cost? Then you will see whether you have enough money to finish it.
Luke 14:28 (New International Reader’s Version)
Years ago as I was growing up, I often would hear questions geared to a long-view of life. One of which (and we all heard it) was, “What do you want to do with your life?” That was the kind of question that made you put on your mental brakes and think. God help you if you didn’t have any definite answer! You see, these questions-usually asked by elders who’ve gone on before-were designed to spark long-term thinking in us; to help us look down the road. We were being taught to think ahead and consider our future. Even when it came to decision making, we were advised to think long-term with questions like, “Could I work here for 10-20 years?”, “Could I see myself marrying this person and having kids with them?”, “Will this investment pay off in the long-term?”, “What effects will this activity/habit have on my long-term health-especially as I get older?”, the list was endless.
What spawned this post was an article I read in Linkedin regarding Bell Labs. One of the ‘Lab’s greatest assets in its work culture was taking the long view of things. It was this “long view” thinking that led to your having a computer and being able to view this post on the Internet-as well as other tech innovations we take for granted today. From what I read, this mentality-with others-made Bell Labs the tech powerhouse that it was.
However, I see a different attitude today. We’ve become short-term in our thinking. Instead of looking down the road, we look at the immediate “benefits” of our decisions. We live lives based on immediate self-gratification instead of what will bless the greater whole in the long run (been there, done that). Companies today are more concerned about fattening their bottom lines and appeasing shareholder rather than provide long-term value to employees and customers. We have intimate relationships based on “benefits” for the moment, instead of considering what long-term consequences such a relationship could provide. We take jobs based on salaries alone instead of considering longevity. In our almost “instantaneous everything” society, we are making short-term decision without considering what will happen down the road. Look at our last Presidential election: we vote more on personality and immediate political gratification instead of long-term effects of their policies and positions. And worst of all, we want”cheap and easy” energy sources such as coal and gasoline to fuel our immediate lifestyle instead of considering its long-term effect on our climate.
Jesus used the above text in the cost of being a disciple: if you were to build a tower, wouldn’t you figure out its cost to see if you have the funds to build it? How many times we read about building projects halted or cancelled due to lack of funds? We need to “count the cost” when we make decisions-especially the long-term ones. Sad to say, we’re not taking Jesus’ advice to heart.
Now we’re paying for this short-term thinking. People are divorcing like crazy thanks to marrying the wrong person solely based on immediate gratification. We hop from job to job when said jobs no longer meet our immediate needs, not showing professional longevity. We are suffering under “45’s” administration, which is more of a nightmarish reality TV show we cannot turn off. Companies are losing employees, upsetting investors, and are under investigation for stock fraud as their failures come to light. And last-but not least-we’re now searching for 11th hour solutions as our planet’s climate changes before our very eyes-and not for the better. We’ve become shallow, short-term, unreliable people who cannot see the long term effects of our actions.
Maybe it’s time for us to return to long-term thinking. To think on our decisions before making hasty ones. To “figure how much it will cost” per Jesus. Maybe we do that, we can stave off the messes we put ourselves in that short-term thinking would cost.
We need to look down the road. Peace.
(Image by me: Barbertown-Idell Road in Kingwood, NJ. July 22, 2017)