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Counting the High Cost of Growth

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    Stephen Blandino
Growth is expensive! Whether it’s personal, organizational, church, business—you name it—growth comes with a price tag. When we stop paying the price, growth is replaced by stagnation and decline, or worse, death. So what is the actual cost of growth? While “cost” could be measured a hundred different ways, I’d like to pinpoint three common price tags of growth that usually surface personally and organizationally.

1. Higher Pain Threshold

In his book Leadership Pain, coach and consultant Sam Chand observes that anytime leadership doesn’t produce pain, you’re likely in a season of “unusual blessing,” or you’re really not making a difference. Chand notes:

Growth = Change Change = Loss Loss = Pain

thus Growth = Pain Leadership is a pain magnet. It’s the price you pay to keep growing. Your inability to handle higher doses of pain will be the ceiling to your personal and organizational growth. Your pain threshold must increase concurrently with your organization’s growth. As Chand notes, “You’ll grow only to the threshold of your pain.” The problem is that too many leaders are searching for problem-free solutions. They don’t exist. Anywhere! When you choose a solution, you simultaneously choose the pain and problems that accompany that solution. When I decided to improve my writing skills, I had to endure the pain of a professional editor. After I received my first book’s manuscript back from my editor, I anxiously opened the file to look at his comments. What I found was disheartening to say the least. It looked like he bled over every square inch of my manuscript. But I had to make a decision: Do I want to grow, or do I want to write content that nobody reads? The same principle applies spiritually too. The biggest breakthroughs require the greatest battles. Jesus clearly articulated the price tag of a higher pain threshold in prayer and fasting as the key to winning the biggest battles (Matthew 17:21).

2. Intensive Coaching

Conferences are great at inspiring us to make changes, but they are horrible at actually producing those changes. That’s not their purpose. Events inspire change, process creates change and habits sustain change. While an event might inspire us to do something new or different, a process of growth must follow the event so that change can ultimately become a new habit in our lives. This type of change is often experienced through one-on-one coaching and mentoring. These intensive growth relationships help us gain wider perspective, identify better solutions and make wiser decisions. Always remember that a good coach will help you take A.I.M. at your potential. They will provide Assessment, Insight and Motivation. I recently secured a one-on-one mentoring relationship with a high capacity leader to help me grow personally and as a pastor. Once per month I’ll meet with this leader, bring the agenda and ask questions for two hours. The intensive nature of this coaching will offer fresh wisdom and perspective that I’ve been looking for. Part of the price tag with one-on-one coaching and mentoring is the accountability to actually do what I learn. The goal isn’t to simply acquire more knowledge. That knowledge has to be translated into action. Otherwise, I’m wasting my time and my mentor’s time. Another part of this price tag is money … and that brings us to our third price tag.

3. Increased Investment

I’ve discovered something about growth: The more you grow, the harder it is to find coaches to help you go to a new level. Eventually, you have to own up to a simple but sobering fact: High capacity coaching costs money. Several years ago I joined a one-year training center for small group pastors. It literally cost one-third of my entire ministry budget that year. Everything inside of me said, “You can’t afford to do this.” But guess what? Four months after joining this training cohort, our small group ministry doubled in size. I was going to spend that money on something, but I’m convinced it wouldn’t have delivered the same results. When you hear the words “price tag,” you undoubtedly think of money. The same is true of personal and organizational growth. It requires an increased financial investment. While technology has made it easier—and cheaper—than ever to access information, tools and best practices, there comes a time when you have to shell out cash to move from “here” to “there.” Jesus described the price tag of increased investment like this: “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’” (Luke 14:28-30, NLT).