Are You Counting the Costs of Leadership— and Walking in Its Benefits?

Considering the costs and benefits, President Trump decided to leave the Accord. (Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

On June 1, President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. In the announcement, he stated that his primary reason for leaving was that the agreement disadvantaged the United States.

On the cost side, according to a study cited by President Trump, total job losses in the U. S. could reach 2.7 million (440,000 manufacturing jobs) by 2025 because of the agreement. By 2040, citing the same study, the loss in GDP could be close to $3 trillion with the loss of 6.5 million industrial jobs.

Other costs include the establishment of a Green Climate Fund, which calls for developing countries to contribute $100 billion per year above current foreign aid contributions, to assist underdeveloped countries. The U. S. has already contributed $1 billion, which is far above other countries.

Other major contributors to pollution, such as China and India, received special consideration. China would be allowed to increase emissions until 2030. India's participation was conditional upon receiving billions in foreign aid from developing countries.

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According to President Trump, if the accord received full and total compliance, temperature could fall two-tenths of one degree by the year 2100. The Paris Climate Accord never received approval by the Senate. Considering the costs and benefits, President Trump decided to leave the accord.

Citing its own study with slightly different results, the Heritage Foundation argues that President Trump was correct to leave the accord. They listed four reasons.

  1. The Paris agreement was costly and ineffective.
  2. The agreement wasted taxpayer money.
  3. Withdrawal is a demonstration of leadership.
  4. Withdrawal is good for American energy competitiveness.

Regardless of one's position on the Paris Climate Accord, an analysis of costs and benefits should be employed. Different studies can reach different conclusions based on their respective assumptions and methodology. But a comparison of costs and benefits is essential.

Believers should regularly examine our lives through considering the costs and benefits of our various activities. Could our focus and resources be redeployed to achieve more results?  Are there activities we do out of habit that could be abandoned with the substitution of activities which would yield more fruit?  Even if we are accomplishing much, could we accomplish more? Is the Lord asking us to change, but we have been slow to obey?  Don't settle for helping 1,000 when you are called to help 1 million. Life is too short to finish with regrets.

Human nature argues against change. We like the status quo. We are comfortable. Our soul (mind, will and emotions) doesn't want to go through the upheaval of change. Modifying our focus and activities often involves risk and usually requires effort. Others may be unsupportive. But failure to change, when warranted, will keep us from accomplishing all that we are called to do.

Philip, the evangelist, went to the city of Samaria to preach the gospel. The city was receptive, and he experienced tremendous success. The crowds listened in unity to his message and witnessed the miracles which he performed. People were healed and delivered of evil spirits. Men and women were baptized. Peter and John came down and imparted the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Word says that the entire city was filled with joy.

"Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miracles which he did, they listened in unity to what he said. For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed. And many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city" (Acts 8:5-8).

"Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit" (Acts 8:17).

Can we imagine the joy that must have filled Philip?  Is there a greater fulfillment of an evangelist's dream than to have an entire city in revival, in unity and in joy?  He was seeing great fruit and was probably eagerly anticipating discipling the new converts until they reached maturity in the faith. But the Lord had different plans. He told Philip to head toward Gaza which was desert. He left a city in revival for the desert.

"Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise up and go toward the south on the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is desert" (Acts 8:26).

But the Lord had a divine appointment for Philip. The Spirit led him to a lone individual that happened to be a man of great authority from Ethiopia. He was reading Isaiah and had questions. Philip was able to lead him to the Lord and baptize him. Philip's willingness to change and obedience to the Lord brought the gospel to the entire nation of Ethiopia. He left a city in revival to bring revival to an entire country and to some extent a continent.

"So he rose up and went. And there was a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in command of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was returning, sitting in his chariot and reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit said to Philip, 'Go to this chariot and stay with it.'" (Acts 8:27-29).

"Then Philip spoke, beginning with the same Scripture, and preached Jesus to him" (Acts 8:35).

"When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord took Philip away. And the eunuch saw him no more, and he went his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:39).

Philip's story dramatically exemplifies advantages of moving from very good to best. We might not be directed by an angel or have the fruit of Philip, but we are told to examine the costs (Luke 14:28-33) and, in the Parable of the Talents, to be concerned about returns (Matt. 25:14-30). Let us examine the costs and benefits of all of our activities. At the direction of the Lord, let us move from good to best.

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

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