The Good Samaritan’s Return On Investment

by Rich Dixon on June 21, 2012

This week I’ve been writing about efficiency in the context of firefighting. Last time I talked about efficient stewardship and left you with a question:

Is “responsible” stewardship always efficient?

I wonder about this as I consider the resources required to support RICH’S RIDE. I ask sponsors to underwrite our costs, I ask you to offer attention, encouragement, and prayer, and I seek your financial support of our partners and their important work. And I spend a major portion of my time and energy training and promoting.

I sincerely believe in our mission. I believe we demonstrate that it’s possible to overcome adversity and do something remarkable. We touch hearts with a message of hope, raise awareness about important humanitarian causes, and serve as catalyst for significant fundraising.

But we’re probably not very efficient. Sending an old, bald, crippled guy and his support team on the road to ride a handcycle isn’t cheap. Based strictly on numbers, I’m not sure the Return On Investment (ROI) makes sense from a business perspective. As responsible stewards, we might allocate our resources more efficiently.

In The Parable of the Good Samaritan, a traveler encounters a stranger who’s been beaten, robbed, and left for dead. He spends a large amount of time, effort, and money caring for this single injured man. At the end of the story Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”

The Samaritan could have gotten more “bang for his buck” if he’d allocated his energy and money more strategically. Some ministry probably could have used it to help more people. But apparently that’s not how God’s economy works, because Jesus didn’t tell us to imitate big, efficient organizations.

Certainly I must be mindful and intentional in my use of God’s gifts. Surely there’s a time to consider efficiency and economies of scale. And I don’t pretend to know how to make that decision.

But I’m pretty sure God’s notion of “responsible” isn’t always about numerical efficiency. I can only do what I can, where I am, with what I have…and trust God to use it in ways I can’t imagine.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

KitNo Gravatar July 1, 2012 at 12:20 am

Hi Rich,

I read this with interest since I’ve been married to a firefighter for 40 years. John was a wildland fire task force commander on some big fires in California in the 70′s, so understands the big fires better than most. Your topic of inefficiencies is an interesting one as the main mantra of firefighting is “Saving lives and property.” It’s a whole different mindset than inefficiencies and bottom line.

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