Monday, February 12, 2018

Luke 14:28 - Scripture Study: Counting the Cost

Goodreads.com is a great website for me to select good books to read and to track my reading.  Each year they have a reading challenge.  Members of the site are encouraged to set a reading goal for the year and post that goal on the site.  At the end of the 2017 I noticed that the percentage of those who finish their goal is very small.  Here are the statistics.  

Participants3,163,186
Books Pledged144,787,640
Books Finished45,833,780
Avg. Books Pledged45
Challenges Completed504,764


https://www.goodreads.com/challenges/5493-2017-reading-challenge

You will notice that only about 1.6% of the people completed the challenge that they set for themselves.  So, do we say that 98% of the people failed?   I don’t think so.  If you look, there were over 45 million books read.  This is fantastic!  I wouldn’t call anyone a failure that set a goal, read some books, and came up short of their goal.  The real failure would have been not starting at all.  Perhaps the average goal of reading 45 books in a year is much too high.  Many people can read a book a week, but for some of us, we can’t get through that many.  If each person sets a realistic goal based on their circumstances then, as they work toward that goal, they are winning.  

This reminds me of the scripture in Luke 14:28 which says:  

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

For many of us, we don’t sit down and out the cost before we set our goals.  Can we realistically expect to read for an hour a day?  Some can, but many can’t.  What is the solution?  Perhaps it would help to set shorter term goals.  Is it better to set goals quarterly? monthly?  or daily?  We could avoid some of the personal guilt or frustration that comes when we fall short of our goals if we will simply “count the cost” before we begin.  Many of us think we can accomplish more on a day to day basis than we really can, but we underestimate what we can accomplish in a year if we have daily habits that contribute to our goals.   

Some people use the acronym SMART when they set goals.  The “R” in SMART reminds us to set reasonable/realistic/rational goals.  Part of what makes a goal reasonable is for us to look carefully at what it will take to meet that goal and evaluate if we really have time each day to do those things which will develop into habits that will lead to success.  

How do we apply this to scripture study?  Elder Richard G. Scott said:

"Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!" (Richard G. Scott, "Make Exercise of Faith Your First Priority", October 2014 LDS General Conference)

It all comes down to this simple phrase:  Win the Day!