A fallen world of limited resources and unlimited wants forces people to make decisions. When decisions are made to choose a particular path, decisions are also inherently made not to choose other paths.
The highest valued path or alternative not chosen is called the opportunity cost of that decision. Economists will deduct this opportunity cost from accounting profits to determine economic profits (or losses).
Incorporating opportunity cost into our decision-making will improve the quality of decisions and their outcomes. For example, suppose a person quits their job, starts their own business and earns $75,000 in net profits their first year. If the person was previously working as a computer programmer earning $100,000 per year, has the new business owner really earned a profit? An economist would say they lost $25,000 their first year.
Or assume a building is completely paid for and fully depreciated. An accountant would say the cost of using the building in our business operations would be zero. An economist would argue that the cost of using the building would be the rent that is forgone by using it ourselves instead of renting it. Opportunity cost considers alternative uses.
Opportunity cost is a useful concept when making kingdom decisions. It forces us to examine "what could be" instead of focusing on "what is" or "what was." The concept forces us to look at alternatives. Too many times we seek the Lord, others or even creditors for more when the solution is more productive use or redeployment of our current resources.
Our time, skills, moneys, assets, giftings and focus are resources which the Lord has given us to accomplish His purpose for our lives. In the parable of the talents, the Lord stresses the importance of properly using all that He has given us. He also indicates that good stewards will experience His approval and will have more resources.
Ministers should prayerfully consider the following questions to move their ministries from "what is" to "what could be" to "what should be":
- Are we on mission? The Lord does not promise to bless what He has not called us to do. He has promised all that we need, to do everything that He is asking of us.
- Are our resources fully devoted to what the Lord has called us to do now? Diluting current resources from what the Lord has called us to do now is poor stewardship. It could keep us from accomplishing all that He is expecting or even failure of what we should be doing now.
- Are we prayerfully considering all of the alternatives? Success in a program is not the sole measure of the Lord's will and blessings. There could be more success, greater significance, more souls and greater numbers of people given hope and assistance if we prayerfully considered all alternatives.
As citizens of the kingdom we have the responsibility to be witnesses and make disciples of our King throughout the world. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit and have access to unlimited resources to accomplish this monumental task. He requires that we be good stewards. We must consider all alternatives and have the discipline and courage to follow His guidance.
Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics and undergraduate chair of the College of Business at Oral Roberts University.
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