Our actions and policies may have deliberate purposes, but they can have unintended consequences which mitigate their fulfillment. To save gasoline, laws are passed which increase fuel efficiency.
But because the new requirements can be partially met by making smaller cars, highway deaths could rise. To reduce pollution, the government requires that new cars have additional pollution devices. Because the technology increases the price of new cars, consumers may decide to drive their older cars longer, which would increase pollution.
Other examples exist. To raise the living standards of workers, higher minimum wage laws are passed. But because of lower profits, jobs are lost and consumer prices rise. To encourage home ownership, mortgage-lending standards are eased, resulting in higher home prices and more foreclosures.
Central banks increase the money supply to improve the economy but can cause a lower valued currency and asset price bubbles. To protect domestic jobs, tariffs are imposed which cause trade wars, a depressed economy and fewer jobs. The list is not complete.
Unintended consequences can also play havoc in the kingdom. We may shorten our praise and worship time to increase attendance, but end up having fewer people come because they do not encounter His presence as often.
We may decide to dilute our message so fewer people feel threatened. But we could see dedicated followers of Christ leave because they are not hearing the whole Word of God. Or conversely, attendance may increase but few come to to a saving knowledge of Christ or experience the abundant life He promises.
We may welcome all into membership who believe in Jesus regardless of any core theological errors they may possess. We trust their beliefs will be more biblical after they have been members for awhile. However, the new members may instead lead others into error. Or to be inclusive, we may be tempted to ignore blatant sin in the church while praying that they will see the light. Instead, other sheep are enticed into similar or other sins.
Because many people have strong beliefs about the Holy Spirit and His gifts, some churches and ministries have decided to downplay the Holy Spirit. They might not talk against Him, but they do not actively seek, demonstrate or teach about the Spirit. The unintended result is that their families, church and communities do not experience the full power, compassion and guidance of the Spirit which Jesus died to send us. They have thrown away the key to revival.
Unintended negative consequences can be minimized. We will always have some surprises in this life. But a prayerful and thoughtful process to decision-making will reveal many of these consequences before the decision is made. The following principles should help:
- Ensure that all decisions align with your organizational mission and vision.
- Make sure all decisions do not violate biblical principles and injunctions.
- Get as much counsel and as many perspectives as possible.
- Seek the guidance of the Spirit before making a decision.
- List all intended and unintended consequences that you expect to see as a result of the decision.
- Involve others when implementing the decision.
- Seek excellence during the execution phase.
As members of the kingdom, we should expect to see positive and surprising unintended consequences.
"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us ..." (Eph. 3:20).
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.