How much do you plan ahead? Are you already looking at 2018 with a written strategy for the first six weeks? Or maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum and when you read those last two sentences you thought, “Wait a minute. Wasn’t summer only a couple weeks ago?”
Whether you are a map-it-out-down-to-the-tiniest-detail type of planner or an I-have-a-general-idea-of-what-I-want-next-year-to-look-like type of planner, God has something to say about your heart and mindset as you look ahead.
For the last month I have been soaking in the book of Proverbs. This time around, the ones that keep jumping out to me are the ones about making plans. (There are a lot by the way!) Here are five you might want to spend some time noodling on over the next month.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3
Here’s a confession: I spend more time asking God to bless my plans than I do committing those plans to Him.
How about you? I wonder how different our plans would look if at every step, you and I paused to commit both the overall outcome and the individual steps to Him.
To give it to Him. To trust Him with the results. To see our plans, our work, our effort as worship.
The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. Proverbs 21:5
Speaking of effort, this proverb always reminds me that planning must be accompanied by hard work. In fact, the New Living Translation puts it this way,
Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”
All too often, we assume that if we are in God’s will and offer it to Him at the beginning, He won’t require anything of us. He’ll just do it. Nope. Hard work is a part of the recipe.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
This one speaks of where my heart and mind need to always focus. God’s purpose.
I can plan all I want, but God is God and I am not. That’s really good news, but I rarely hold it as good news during the planning process.
After all, when we have a target we’re aiming at – and a plan to get there – God should just recognize how fantastic our plan is! Right? (Did I just hear God chuckle?)
If God is sovereign. (He is.)
If God is good. (He is.)
If God is for me. (He is.)
If God’s purpose will ultimately prevail. (It will.)
Then shouldn’t I spend more time getting my heart and mind in tune with His purpose? Shouldn’t that knowledge lead me to execute my plans with greater boldness while trusting Him more fully when things don’t go exactly as I thought they would?
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9
This one goes hand-in-glove with the last one. I look at the last one as the big picture and end result. This one I see more as the individual elements of the plan.
The Lord’s purpose will prevail and He will establish the steps to get there.
If you and I truly believed both of those, we would plan more clearly and execute more boldly. God cares about the details. He is establishing your steps. He knows what He’s doing. He’s not just waiting at the finish line. He’s running right beside you.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22
This last one might just be for me. I spend most of my working, planning, preparing hours by myself. It goes with the territory of working out of my home.
Proverbs 15:22 reminds me of my need for advisers. This point was hammered home a couple weeks ago as I sat in my living room surrounded by my board of directors. Kari and I walked away so grateful.
I need these men and women. My ministry, writing and speaking is better and has a greater kingdom impact because of their advice. You and I were never meant to do the work – or the planning – alone.
- Plans committed to the Lord.
- Plans fueled by hard work.
- Plans focused on God’s purpose.
- Plans established – step-by-step – by the One who holds the outcome.
- Plans processed in community.
Those are the kind of plans that will lead to a fantastic 2018!