Chess is a game of iterative steps to the strategic capture of the king. Often times, it seems leaders in church ministry might use this Machiavellian approach, seeing church members and leaders as pawns or bishops. The “enemy” must be wounded beyond repair, or enough to never strike back. All these steps fuel typical politics. Winners means losers are created. But, in a church leadership culture we might gain more by have a different ethic than simply winning.
I have loved the language of modern church leadership with a respected author’s words: “clarify the win” and such. How about clarifying the loss? How about counting the cost in real human terms as a metric rather than simply putting ministry in the lingo of ROI and metrics. If we keep a balance sheet, losing is really where it is at. Winning makes us feel great. And, morale is indeed important. But, in our day that metric-to-deaths everything, do we really end up earning anything by it?
In order to find our actual win, we have to be able to count the real cost. The Rich Young Ruler had to contemplate the win of following Jesus after he would lose all earthly possession and status. The Widow’s Mite is something a woman lost in order to offer an expensive gift to God. The math of striving, squeezing, and beating the odds make sense in business, but not in the church.
In the business of church the math of people with messy lives means that love is an uncontainable metric. It is valued and counted only as it is spent. Or, lost. This loss is your time, your hobby, your status, and maybe even money. To lose is to win. What if we flip a phrase and say this: “Lose the whole world and gain your soul.” Winning is overrated.