Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Cost

I never thought I would be happy to see gasoline priced at $3.69 a gallon.

But I saw it today, and I was happy. A few months ago, I was horrified at this price. But, after riding gas prices up to $3.99 (So far, I've managed never to pay $4), I've been glad to see a 30-cent drop, at least where I live, over the last few weeks.

Someday, we'll all be telling these stories to our kids, but I remember paying a little over $1 a gallon in the early 90s, when I owned my first vehicle. At that time, gasoline was a modest portion of my monthly expenses, not even something I had to watch very closely.

Today, of course, it's a whole different story. Just about everyone in America has had to rearrange the household budget to accommodate the cost of fuel.

As frustrating as it is, and as unfair as it feels, it just costs what it costs, and we all have to drive, so we all find a way to pay.

I've spent most of this week interviewing candidates for open teaching positions at my campus.

One of the qualities I look for most in a teaching candidate is the commitment to remain positive and joyful, even when things get tough and people complain. Especially when things get tough and people complain. I'll take a joyful rookie over a grouchy veteran any day. I'm not easily impressed by years in the business. I'm impressed by the spirit that makes for good years in the business.

Teaching is a joy, but it's tough. Kids of any age require a deep well of patience. Anyone considering the teaching field must understand this.

Effective teachers have an inner source of renewable joy that allows them to remain positive in the face of constant challenges to their patience. Ineffective teachers lack this quality, thinking someone, somewhere is supposed to be doing something to keep them happy. They don't realize no one can do that for them.

A great teaching career costs a lot. It takes all the patience and love you have, and then some.

Is it fair that it costs this much? Maybe, maybe not. But, that's just what it costs, and anyone who desires the role must commit to paying the cost in full.

Consider these words from Jesus:

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple...any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." -- Luke 14:26-27, 33.

Who could ever claim to be comfortable with these words?

We so often focus on what we receive as Christians, and rightly so, because we receive a lot.

But, do we think often enough about what it costs to follow Jesus?

There are deeper waters in which to dive for more complete answers to what Jesus says in Luke 14, but the bottom line is this: Being a disciple of Jesus means living a life in which you are no longer the center. Your wishes and preferences are no longer the rules that govern your world. Your pleasure is no longer the goal.

An effective disciple understands the cost in this life, and looks toward heaven. An ineffective disciple is shocked by the cost, and lives in frustration, thinking someone, somewhere is supposed to be doing something to keep him happy.

Jesus has paid our debt and freed us from sin.

Now, all He asks for is everything we are and have.

Are we ready to give it all to Him?

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