Lesson 13

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

COUNTING THE COST

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:

C Write the Key Verse from memory.

C Summarize three aspects of the cost of leadership.

C Identify the true test of spiritual leadership .

KEY VERSE:

Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

INTRODUCTION

In this course you have learned about management of spiritual resources through proper leadership. You have learned how to be a good steward and lead like a servant and
shepherd.

You learned of the qualifications and tasks of leaders, the importance of the anointing and
how to make decisions and solve problems. You studied principles of success and were
warned of things that result in failure. You also learned how to train leaders and
followers.

Only one question remains: Are you prepared to pay the high cost of serving as a spiritual leader?

COUNTING THE COST

Jesus stressed the importance of counting the cost before you make spiritual decisions. He used two natural examples, those of a man building a tower and a king going to war:

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all

that behold it begin to mock him.

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that
cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Or else, while, the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. (Luke 14:28-32)

By these examples Jesus illustrated the importance of counting the costs before you make a spiritual commitment. Just what are the costs of serving as a spiritual leader?

THREE ASPECTS OF LEADERSHIP

Read Luke 9:5 7-62 in your Bible. In this passage three men approached Jesus wanting to be disciples. To each of these potential disciples, Jesus reveals a different aspect of the costs of spiritual leadership :

CONSIDERED COSTS: (Luke 9:57-58)

The first man attempts to become a disciple through self-effort. He does not wait to be called by Jesus. Like discipleship, leadership is not an offer man makes to God. It is a call of God to man. If you try to lead by self-effort, you will fail. You must be called and anointed of God. Jesus said to this man, "If you follow me, this is what you will face.” The costs of leadership include sacrifice as well as service:

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (I John 3:16)

The cost of leadership includes loneliness. The Apostle Paul wrote:

This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me… (II Timothy 1:15)

A leader often experiences rejection and criticism :

He (Jesus) came unto His own, and His own received Him not. (John 1:11

A leader may also experience persecution . Read of the terrible things Paul experienced in II Corinthians 11:23-27.

A leader has many duties:

Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (II Corinthians 11:28)

A leader must be disciplined:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (I Corinthians 9:27)

A leader has a great responsibility to walk worthy of his spiritual calling:

Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint
not;

But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in

craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. (II Corinthians 4:1-2)

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. (Ephesians 4:1)

PROPER PRIORITIES: (Luke 9:59-60)

The second man was called by Jesus to "follow.” As you have learned, to "follow" means to come after one that goes before, to imitate an example. It involves both belief and
obedience.

When Jesus called His 12 disciples, He told them to come and follow. He did not outline a career path. He did not give them details of the program. The disciple had to leave the old life behind because of the call alone . What decisions, partings , and sacrifices this might require remain unknown.

The leader is a follower who must leave a life of security for one of insecurity in the eyes of the world. The commitment is not to a program, but to a person. That person is the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Luke passage, the response of this man to the call to follow was "suffer me first… .” He wanted to follow Jesus , but it was not his priority .

Jesus would never suggest that a person ignore the needs of his parents (see John 19:2527). It is a matter of priorities which is stressed in this story. This man said he wanted to "bury his father" first. In Old Testament times when a person said he was waiting to

"bury his father,” it did not necessarily mean his father had died. It meant he was waiting until his father died in order to receive the inheritance that rightfully belonged to him. So, when this man used this excuse, he was placing his future inheritance before the call of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the critical moment when Jesus calls a man to follow Him and become a leader, nothing must be placed before that call.

In another passage, Jesus explained in more detail the importance of proper priorities:

Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)

Self-denial must come before we can take up the cross. The old selfish and sinful nature must be denied. (Read Romans 7-8 about Paul’s struggle in this area.) When self has died, the cross must become your priority. The cross is symbolic of the sacrifice, pain, rejection , insult , and hardship involved in doing God’s will. The cross may even mean a call to death by martyrdom for the sake of the Gospel.

"Taking up the cross" does not refer to the burdens of life . These are common to all men. They are the afflictions, trials, disappointments, and depression that come to us because of living in a sinful world . The believer is not excluded from such burdens of life . He
experiences illness, accidents, fire , and natural hazards because he lives in a world marred by sin. But these burdens are not "taking up the cross.” Cross bearing is voluntary, not something imposed by the burdens of life. It is a continuous (daily) choosing to deny the desires of self in order to do God’s will.

Jesus said, "Whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my

disciple ." Taking up the cross is not pleasing to human nature because it involves self denial. It must be done voluntarily for the sake of Christ.

To take up the cross, you must empty your hands of the things of the world. If your heart is set on money and material things, your hands are too full to take up the cross. If your time is consumed by pleasure and things that please the flesh, your hands are too full to take up the cross . After denying self and taking up the cross , the next step is to follow . You must leave behind the old lifestyle and sinful relationships.

You will never become a leader by sitting and waiting for it to happen . YOU must take the first steps : Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow. Matthew could have
remained at the tax table and Peter at his nets. They could both have pursued their trades honestly and might have enjoyed spiritual experiences . But if they wanted to become
spiritual leaders , they had to leave the old situation and enter the new. Matthew left the tax tables and Peter left his nets.

This does not mean everyone must leave his present job and home to become a leader .

What it does mean is that it will require a change in lifestyle. In some cases it may also mean leaving home, jobs and loved ones for the sake of the Gospel. You must follow wherever Jesus leads.

Proper priorities means you must forsake all else to accept this call:

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)

Serving others must become a priority:

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister:

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant;

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26-28)

The Kingdom of God must become your main priority:

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?…

But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:31,33)

ABSOLUTE AIMS: (Luke 9:61-62)

The third man in Luke 9 : 57 – 62 wanted to follow , but he wanted to do so on his own

terms. Bidding his family farewell was a normal thing to do , but Jesus had called him.
What was his real aim in life? Did he want to become a leader or to follow his own plan
for life ? This man’s aims in life were not settled. He was holding back, torn between the old life and the new to which Jesus called. His absolute aim in life was not the call of
God . Your commitment to leadership must be complete. It must become the absolute
aim of your life.

THE TRUE TEST OF SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

The true test of leadership is what happens when you are no longer present with your

followers. Do they continue to be faithful to what you have taught them? Do they teach others what they have learned? Can they continue to mature spiritually without your physical presence? If so, you have passed the true test of spiritual leadership.

A FINAL CHALLENGE

Always remember your great responsibility as a leader:

A disciple is not above his teacher (leader), but everyone when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40) Revised Standard Version

Do not be discouraged by problems with followers. Jesus experienced such problems. On one occasion , Peter, James and John displayed a hateful attitude by wanting to call fire from heaven to destroy an unreceptive Samaritan village (Luke 9:51-55). Peter denied the Lord three times (Luke 22:54-62). All three were asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane when they were told to pray (Luke 22 :45-46).

But this handful of followers were worth the investment of time and ministry by Jesus. They proved to be faithful men, despite their faults and failures. Through them, the
Gospel spread throughout the nations of the world. If you are willing to pay the high
costs to serve as a spiritual leader, is it possible that you, too, can be used of God to raise
up such committed followers?

I heard a call "come follow ”…that was all. Earth’s joys grew dim ;

My soul went after Him .