Kingdom Economics: We Must Ignore Sunk Costs

Sinkhole
Just forget about it. Sunk costs are non-recoverable. (Flickr)

An understanding of sunk cost leads to better decision-making and stewardship. A sunk cost has already been incurred and can not be recovered.

Examples include past research and development, marketing campaigns, sign-up bonuses, training, consultant fees and legal expenses. These expenses, and others like them, have already happened. They cannot be recovered.

We should ignore sunk costs when making decisions. Good stewardship demands that we look to the future and not to the unchangeable past. Current and expected benefits and costs should be the economic decision variables. Incorporating sunk costs in our decision-making leads to poor outcomes.

In the kingdom, the memorial stones of the past testify to the Lord's faithfulness, goodness, grace and power. We look to the past and are filled with thankfulness. We gratefully acknowledge His hand in our lives, churches and ministries. We look to the heroes of the faith and are strengthened. But past experiences of ourselves and others are a poor guide to the future.

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The apostle Paul taught us to forget the past and reach for the future. "Brothers, I do not count myself to have attained, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead" (Phil. 3:13).

Do we have traditions, programs or structures which are more a symbol of the past than what the Lord wants us to do now and in in the future? Gideon made an ephod as a memorial to the Lord's past victories. It became a snare to Israel, Gideon and His household.

Jesus taught that the Father will prune branches that have born fruit, so that new fruit will be produced (see John 15:2). Old fruit begins to rot and smell, regardless of the beauty or savoriness of the original fruit. The Lord has new fruit for our ministries and churches. Are we holding on to the past or seeking His guidance now?

Let go of the past. Embrace our God directed, Spirit empowered, and foreordained future. As sons and daughters of the King, we have the privilege of representing Him during the later days. Following current direction of the King of Kings is imperative. Operating in the power of the Holy Spirit is necessary. Exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit is essential. We must be Holy as He is Holy. And we must live by faith in our King as our guide and enabler of the future.

The following axioms should be considered to move from a past focus to a future focus.

  • Seek the Lord's direction, wisdom and Anointing in every effort for the here and now.
  • Acknowledge and trust the Lord.
  • Do not lean on your own understanding.
  • Do not use success in an effort as the sole indication of the Lord's will. Success in an area to which you have not been called is not success. It is disobedience.
  • Reduce or eliminate all tradition, programs and organization structure which are not part of the Lord's current plans and purposes for our lives.

Let us forget the past and embrace the future with faith in our King, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and with the authority of an ambassador of the Lord Jesus.

Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.

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