Somewhere I got the reputation that if someone wanted to know how many people were at a certain event, they would ask me and I could estimate. I didn’t count – I would estimate and the joke is that I could always estimate far more people than were actually there!
I recently attended a meeting where a very distinguished and credible man was talking about how many red lights are now on the Atlanta Highway. He said, “There must be over 2,000 – an art I learned at the Mathison School of Estimating.”
I remember hearing about one politician who was encouraged to run for Mayor. He refused saying, “I would rather estimate the number of my friends than to count them.”
Estimating instead of counting can be a dangerous habit. It doesn’t really get at the truth. Let me suggest some areas where we should count and not estimate.
1. Count your Dreams – Not your Detractors
Dreams are a part of the hope for the future. The prophet Joel said “Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28) Dreams are essential to life. The dream is something that God holds out in front of us, and by His grace and strength we pursue. Now there will always be detractors. Don’t count them. There will be a lot of folks who say that you can’t do this. Many people will laugh at your dreams. If you count detractors, you will begin to focus on them rather than the dream. Remember – they laughed at Moses, Abraham, Nehemiah, Jesus, Noah. If people laugh at you – that puts you in good company. Dreams count – detractors don’t.
2. Count your Possibilities – Not your Problems
God created each of us uniquely different. Nobody else has our thumbprint or our DNA. He has put tremendous possibilities within the grasp of every person. The angel told Mary she was going to have a child. She said that would be impossible because she was a virgin. The angel told her about God’s possibilities. (Luke 1:26-37)When 5,000 men were hungry, it seemed like a hopeless problem. Jesus focused on the possibilities – not the problem. He took one little boy’s lunch and fed the whole group. (Matthew 14:15-21) A problem oriented person is going to be a failure. Problems will weigh you down – possibilities will bring hope and trust. Possibilities count – problems don’t.
3. Count your Friends – Not your Foes
The very nature of life is that we will have people who do not like us and do not like what we are doing. Whenever you start doing anything constructive, there are a lot of folks who will want to keep you from accomplishing that task. If you put a lot of crabs in a basket and one tries to climb out, the others crabs will pull him back down. If you focus on your foes, they will always pull you down. Work at developing more friends. A friend can be more important than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) The larger the number of friends that you count, the more resources you have to defeat any foe. Friends count – foes don’t.
4. Count your Compliments – Not your Complaints
It is always easy to spend too much time dealing with the people who complain. I remember as a pastor that never did anybody come up on a Sunday morning and say “John Ed the temperature in the sanctuary was really good today.” We had a lot of folks that came in and said it was too hot or too cold. We did some renovation and left one thermostat disconnected from anything. We let people go up and change it like they wanted. Complaints are a part of life but compliments are far more important to focus on. Compliments count – complaints don’t.
Estimating is easier than counting, but counting the correct things forge an attitude for life!