As I teach on planning I address two basic questions. One is ‘Why plan?’ The other may not be openly expressed but is often close to the surface: ‘Is planning just adopting the world’s methods?’
1. Why plan?
In my introductory blog I shared on this topic and will enlarge on it further in subsequent postings. Put simply it is the best way of achieving the desired goal with minimum effort and maximum effectiveness. By careful forethought much time and resource can be saved as they are channelled in the most productive direction, and goals will be reached with greater accuracy.
I agree with John Maxwell when he said “The longer we spend in preparation the shorter the time in implementation.” In contrast I have heard an anonymous speaker quoted: “We never seem to have the time to do anything except to do everything twice”. Maybe his anonymity preserved his job!
Some other symptoms of a lack of adequate planning are
- Lack of direction
- Accomplish little
- Dictated by circumstances
2. Is planning just adopting the world’s methods?
This question is more searching. Expressed another way, ‘By planning, do we hinder the Holy Spirit from leading us?’
We are people who are in the world and yet not of the world. But despite that, we can easily adopt the world’s methods uncritically without fully appreciating what is happening, so it is a good question.
Consider Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established.” (NASB) This seems to imply that planning is acceptable in the eyes of God provided we do it in partnership with the Spirit. As we go into any activity we want to know that the Lord’s hand is on us and so it is always wise to commit our ways and works to him.
But this verse says ‘commit your works…’ So whose works are they? Ours! Whose plans are they? Ours! It seems from this verse that he wants us both to take initiatives and to partner with him. He, after all, is the one who has made us in his image and so presumably some of the creativity he himself demonstrated at the beginning of time has ‘rubbed off’ on us. Let’s use it to think creatively and to plan to his honour and glory.
Such partnership is exemplified in 1 Cor.3:6 where Paul states ‘I planted, Apollos watered, God made it grow’. None of us is naïve enough to think we can create life. But in his amazing wisdom God has chosen that we should partner with him as he produces life – whether within the womb of woman or in the soil. In each he enjoys our partnership and I am sure he looks tenderly on us as he sees we enjoy it too.
I have so enjoyed watching Brian Oldreive and his team in Zimbabwe develop the Foundations for Farming techniques where rural farmers (and others) are able to multiply their harvest at least five-fold as they follow God’s principles of:
- On time
- No wastage
- To a high standard
- With joy
Here we see this principle of partnership in action. Brian teaches faithfully, glorifying God. The result of his teaching and labours is significantly increased growth. What more could we want?!
Although we must always be careful not to do things in the flesh without listening to the Holy Spirit it is clear that God wants us to take responsibility and use the gifts he has given us. By doing so, humbly listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we shall see our plans ‘established’. They will come to fruition.