Louis L’Amour wrote over 115 novels, most of them westerns. Critics often panned his stories, saying the characters were too simplistic and the plots too predictable. But the public disagreed. Over 200 million copies of his books were in print when he died, leading many to believe that he wrote more million-copy bestsellers than any other American writer. Not bad for a guy who didn’t publish his first novel until he was in his forties.
Most people are surprised to learn that Mr. L’Amour never made the switch from typewriter to computer. The reason is because his son, Beau, told him it would take about six weeks for him to become adept at using a PC. He knew that in that amount of time he could write a complete novel on his old, trusty typewriter. Thus, in his mind, the cost of learning to use a computer would be one book. It was a price he wasn’t willing to pay.*
It’s always smart to calculate the cost of a choice before you make it. And I do mean calculate. Calculation requires more than just a cursory glance at the surface issues. It involves the careful weighing and measuring of every potential consequence.
We have a good example in the sixth and seventh chapters of Proverbs. Solomon talks in vivid detail about how an immoral woman is able to seduce a young man. She succeeds because he doesn’t count the cost. He is spellbound by her beauty (6:25), her perfume (7:17), her seductive words (7:18) and her promises of secrecy (7:19). So spellbound that he doesn’t stop to think about where his involvement with this woman could lead. Solomon ends this sobering passage by comparing this man to an ox being led to the slaughter (7:22) and a bird flying into a snare (7:23).
You may not be very good at math. I’m certainly not. But if we want to grow a little stronger every day, we’d better learn to accurately calculate the cost of our decisions. One bad choice is all it takes to implode a reputation that’s taken years to build.
For further reflection read Proverbs 20:25 and Luke 14:28-30.
Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner, About the Author (New York: Cader Books, 2000), 134