God is a God of systems and predictability and order, and God honors planning.” – Andy Stanley
As Christians, should we plan for the future? If God is in control, then should we plan at all?
The Bible talks a lot about the future and whether or not Christians ought to prepare for it. The Bible demonstrates that God is not only concerned for our earthly future, but also for our eternal future. So as Christians, we ought to prepare for the future. First, we should make sure we are prepared for our eternal future. This means getting our relationship with God correct and storing up treasures in heaven. Second, we can work to prepare for our earthly future while trusting it in God’s hands. James tells us, “Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” (James 4: 13-15)
Preparation and planning are a part of taking responsibility and practicing good stewardship of what God has entrusted to us. In Nehemiah 2:4-10, we see the balance between these two principles – diligent planning and reliance upon God. God gives wisdom, but we need to plan. God opens doors, but we must walk through them. Nehemiah asks the king for the resources necessary to rebuild the wall. We wouldn’t consider building a house, room, or anything without planning out our supplies. The work of ministry deserves no less.
By the time Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem, he already has two of the essential ingredients of a well-crafted plan. First, he’s got a goal: his objective is to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. He’s also gone to Ace Hardware on the way to Jerusalem and compiled all of his building materials.
But there are still unanswered questions. Nehemiah needs to know what exactly needs to be done. So Nehemiah makes a thorough inspection of the wall. Now Nehemiah can then say, “Here’s where we are, here’s what we have to build it with, and here’s what we are going to build.” All he needs is a labor force. Nehemiah gives an impassioned speech persuading the Jews to throw in with him.
While Nehemiah is a model of planning, Jesus is the ultimate model: If we never witnessed this same planning, strategy, and preparation in Jesus’ ministry it wouldn’t be a priority in our spiritual leadership. But we do. As you read through the gospels you clearly see where Jesus goes, when He goes, what He says and does, and to whom are anything but random happenstance or just “letting the cards fall as they may.” His ministry is brilliantly conceived and executed.
- Why is it so important to not get ahead of the Lord, but to wait for His perfect timing?
- What can we do this week to get a little better at planning?