By David Faust
Someone has said, “It pays to plan ahead; it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.” If you build a house, plant a garden, or complete a research assignment at school, you know the value of careful planning. Entrepreneurs depend on sound business plans, and a preacher’s 30-minute message requires hours of prayer and planning long before Sunday morning arrives.
The Bible warns against over-confidence for the future. After all, “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow” (James 4:14). Yet, God’s Word encourages us to make wise plans, for “the prudent give thought to their steps” (Proverbs 14:15). The wisdom of Proverbs can guide us in the strategic planning process.
Seek Wise Counsel
“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Head coaches rely on the skill and advice of their assistant coaches. Savvy cabinet members work in the background to help the president succeed. All of us can benefit from wise counsel. We should seek out advisers who are familiar with the past, the present, and the future.
Who knows the past? Those who have learned from life experience. That’s why the church is led, protected, and nurtured by elders who have gained wisdom over the long haul from walking with the Lord, dealing with people, and overcoming mistakes.
Who knows the present? Those who, like the men of Isaachar, understand the times and know what God’s people should do (see 1 Chronicles 12:32). As we make plans, it’s wise to consult with a spouse or a long-time friend who’s well acquainted with our personalities and our current circumstances. And we shouldn’t disregard the next generation who will be directly affected by the plans we make. Seasoned business leaders should listen to younger employees. Elders need to stay in touch with the church’s teens and young adults and listen to their insights about current culture. The church’s planning process should tap into the bright minds of young believers who, like Timothy, set a positive example “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Who knows the future? Only the Lord. It’s foolish to plan for the future without consulting the one who sees what the future holds. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). It’s arrogant and presumptuous to build our plans on human wisdom alone, without bathing them in humble prayer. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).
Translate Plans into Action
A plan will work only if we work the plan. Too many strategic planning efforts produce impressive-looking documents that collect dust on someone’s desk. “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
We need to remain flexible for the Lord to reshape our goals at his discretion. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (16:9).
Most of all, our plans need to reflect the priorities of our Father in Heaven, not just the desires of our own hearts. A Chinese proverb says, “When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.” And let’s add, “When planning for eternity, lead people to Christ.”
1. What plans are you currently making for yourself, your family, your church, or your career?
2. How are you including the Lord and other wise advisers in the planning process?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout\.
THELOOKOUT’s Bible Reading Plan for August 19, 2012
2 Timothy 4
Esther 3, 4