To Plan… or Not to Plan?

22 Apr

Have you ever known someone who is a compulsive planner?  They have their entire day planned out… or perhaps their entire life!  Anything that disrupts their plan will likely make them downright irritable and not fun to be around.  How do I know this?  Because I used to be a compulsive planner.

Then we had kids… 3 of them… all girls.  Plan?  What plan?

My accountability partner (aka, my “Wingman in Christ”) recently gave me a copy of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  In today’s devotion, it says:

“A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control.  Turn from this idolatry back to Me.  Listen to me and live abundantly.” (p. 117).

Which got me to thinking: is it wrong for a follower of Jesus to plan?

The Idol of Control

I get what the author means: control can become an idol.  An idol is something we make and we devote ourselves to.  For some, control is s source of power.  For others, it can be a source of importance and identity.

Planning becomes a problem when our need for control is so that our agenda is accomplished… not God’s agenda.  I think the real issue here is outcomes, not planning.  Look at what one of the Scripture from today’s devotion says:

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail. (Prov 19:21 NLT).

It doesn’t say we shouldn’t make plans.  It says the Lord’s purpose will prevail.  We have to be OK when our plans don’t work out if the Lord’s purposes are prevailing.  In fact, that should be a cause for celebration when God’s plan is advancing, even if it trashes our plans!

To me, not planning at all is not good stewardship.  Can you imagine the parable of the talents, where the Master gives his servants money before he leaves?  Two of the three servants make a return on the Master’s investment.  They are praised.  That doesn’t happen without some planning!  (Read the whole story in Matthew 25:14-30).

No… the problem isn’t planning.  The problem is outcome control.

How Then Shall We Plan?

That’s a fair question.  The simplest answer seems to be that we should plan so the Lord’s purposes can prevail!  Simple answer… hard to execute.  Perhaps an analogy is in order.

Think of a surfer.  They plan in the following ways:

  • They equip themselves for surfing (clothing, surfboard, maintaining their board in good order)
  • They make themselves available to catch a wave (drive to beach, paddle out into the water)

And then they… wait.  At some point, they see a wave coming.  For a few moments, they paddle with fury in order to catch the wave.  And then they enjoy a great ride in a direction they didn’t choose, under a power that is not their own.

In other words, they plan to equip themselves and to make themselves available, but they know the entire time that they can’t control the outcome.  Maybe that’s why surfers are so relaxed!

As you set about planning today, take a lesson from a surfer:

  • If you find yourself paddling all the time, stop and wait for the wave.  Let go of your outcome.
  • If you find yourself sitting on the beach, come on in.. you can’t catch a wave on the beach!  Being a Jesus follower isn’t a spectator sport.
  • If you’ve entered the ocean without a surfboard… then prepare to be pounded!  Take some time to equip yourself with prayer, scripture, and a good wingman (or a whole squadron!).  They’ll keep you afloat!

In short, plan to equip yourself and make yourself available to the Lord’s purposes… wait for His movement… then stand up and enjoy the ride of a lifetime, wherever he may take you.  Don’t worry about the outcome.  If it’s from God, it will be good.

Even if it’s not what you had planned!


Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Reflection


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4 responses to “To Plan… or Not to Plan?

  1. Brent Bidus

    April 23, 2014 at 6:31 am

    Thanks Bill. Encouraging words and just what I needed to hear this morning.

    • billhogan77

      April 23, 2014 at 6:37 am

      Outstanding Brent! Hope all is going well for you. Be strong… and of good courage!

  2. Chad Yelverton

    April 23, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    This is great, Bill. I’ve struggled with this concept and this gives me a new lens for looking at planning, striving for outcomes, etc. Great concepts to think on here. It seems that our challenge now lies in planning and ‘efforting’ without linking our happiness to preconceived results.

    • billhogan77

      April 23, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      Glad it helped Chad! Nothing wrong with planning… the Bible is full of it (planning :-). Problem comes when we attempt to force the outcome. It’s the essence of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden: “Not my will but yours be done.” So thankful Jesus didn’t change his outcome! Be blessed brother!

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