Stop Counting?

Stop Counting?

Posted by Regi Campbell on December 9, 2013

Not too long ago, I heard Bob Goff say “We need to stop counting”. He’s busting on everything being so knotted up and measured. So ‘corporate’. He said love should be inefficient. Senselessly abundant and over the top.

Ever had a little wad of money in your pocket with no idea if it’s ones, fives, tens or twenties? You feel rich because you can buy a coffee for a stranger, stuff a tip in the ‘tip jar’, or hand a dollar to the pan-handler (who might be an angel). Those who count feel VERY uncomfortable not knowing. Those who can resist the temptation to count (and feel confident there’s more where that came from) enjoy the freedom. When you do a Souly Business retreat, you’re asked to take off your watch so you won’t count the minutes or hours. You trust the leaders to ‘count’ the time for you…to take care of getting you where you’re supposed to go when you’re supposed to be there. Interesting feelings of vulnerability, dependency, powerlessness, loss of control, but it’s actually quite freeing once you get over the shock!

Like the dude screamed in the TV show The Prisoner, “I’m not a number,” counting ‘de-personalizes’. Growing up Southern Baptist, we counted attendance, “Bibles brought”, Sunday school attendance, and money. If it moved or could ‘fog a mirror’, we counted it (Sometimes twice).  We put the numbers on a board for all to see and feel guilty about (The people who didn’t come got off guilt-free!). It’s also easy to count the wrong things… to get caught up counting what makes us look or feel good instead of thinking about what really matters. Things that matter most can’t be measured. Counting brings focus to success, failure, progress and activity but can inadvertently suck attention from the softer things, like individuals, their stories and hearts. God isn’t about how much…He’s about why!

But Jesus said counting was good, right? Didn’t He say “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28) Yes, He said that. Think before you start…that’s wisdom, not management, not the same thing.

How about Teach us to number our days…” (Psalm 90:12A). Isn’t that counting? Yeah, until you read Psalm 90:12B …”that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” “Counting” here means to value our days….to learn from them so we’ll become wise in our desires….so we’ll want what God wants. It’s prospective not retrospective.

How many customers, members, attenders, subscribers, blog readers, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, donors, students or patients is enough? Would you trade God’s Presence for a number? Andy Stanley said it best when he said…

               “You’ll never find meaning in a number….only in a Name”.

Bob Goff may be onto something…at least he made me think. Freedom from counting is freedom indeed. Unencumbered by the tyranny of numbers, we might just follow the heart of God and do some radically good stuff!


Question: Have you ever been guilty of counting the wrong things? Or counting good things but for a less-than-good purpose? Or letting “the numbers” lead you away from where God was at work? Tell us what you learned here.

Responses (3)

Jonathan Whitaker
Jonathan Whitaker Posted: December 9, 2013, 12:06 pm

Didn’t Andy Stanley also once say, “You count things you care about (e.g., the offering)?”

Jon McCranie
Jon McCranie Posted: December 9, 2013, 1:51 pm

Among those that I am mentoring is one who feels called into ministry. He first thought it was a call to pastor but as we have gotten deeper, he is discovering a deep feeling for evangelism. In fact as his pastor, I have asked him to head up our evangelism team.

One of the core teachings that I have given him is not to count the outcome but to share Jesus when God presents the opportunity. Counting the outcome can discourage but being obedient to God is very positive.

His personal evangelism has already resulted in two people coming to know Jesus and in fact have joined our church (I told the latter was not as important as the former but does help put them in a reinforcing environment).

I grew up Southern Baptist and yes we counted everything and while I am still Baptist, I have tried to distance myself the accounting process and let God do the accounting.

I think Bob is right on target.

Jon McCranie

Jon Stallings
Jon Stallings Posted: December 10, 2013, 6:55 pm

In the past counting meant focusing on what I did not have. I felt the # counted always came up short. As I have grown older (and I hope wiser) I am trying to be more thankful for what I had. I am not fully there yet, but I am trying to let go of the numbers.

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