I am reminded of the dentist that prepared a twenty-minute presentation on the importance of flossing daily. It was a thorough and impassioned speech; full of examples, compelling true-life stories, and everyone who attended got a free box of floss.
The dentist was a lot like the earnest attorney that had a ready-to-go presentation on why you should have a will, or the auto mechanic who made a PowerPoint presentation on changing your oil every 3,000 miles.
So, here I am at the beginning of 2013 urging anyone who reads this to have a personal growth and improvement plan.
“Well, tell me something I don’t already know,” you might be thinking. Many of us have endured weeks of New Year’s resolution avoidance and self-regret. And, just when you thought you’d escaped penning another boring list of half-hearted promises, here’s another opportunity to run and hide from this unfulfilling task.
Folks, the question is; does anyone care whether you ever draft another list of resolutions? Why do most resolutions fail? They fail because those plans were made without a purposeful commitment to our Creator.
God wants you to be intentional
Are you ready for a news flash? God really cares about what you are going to do today, tomorrow, next week, and in fact, the rest of this year. God wants you to be intentional. Here are three quick reasons why God is passionate about you being a planner.
- Because we’re made in the image and likeness of God, we have the inherent ability to plan as He plans. Obviously, God is perfect in His creativity, organization, and planning . . . and His ability for executing those plans! The problem with us is that the organization and planning aspects of man are marred and tainted by sin. Faith’s Senior Pastor Steve Viars has said; “Most organization and administration is nothing short of hard work!” We don’t have anything approaching God’s abilities or attributes. But we don’t need to; planning simply takes work; physically, mentally, and spiritually!
- If you want to talk about planning, you can start in Genesis 1 with a close look at the very nature of God! Our very Creation gives us an incredible picture of the organization and administrative ability of God. Think about it; He created the world in six days by speaking it into existence with the word of His mouth. And when it was done He said, “It is very good.” That truly was one awesome evaluation!
- The whole idea of planning flows out of the very character of God. He is a God of order, discipline, and purpose. That’s why a person can’t say, “Well, since organization and planning isn’t my strength . . . there’s no need to work on it!” That is simply wrong. We all need to work on it. Planning is rooted in the character of our God and is even modeled in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. The incarnation, virgin birth, and death/burial/and resurrection of our Savior were all part of God’s PLAN; an elegant plan that goes all the way back to Genesis 3:15.
Are you still ‘sitting on the fence’ about being a planner? Here are three more reasons why God wants you to plan:
- God wants you to plan because He commanded us to plan. Proverbs 6:6-11 is a beautiful passage that speaks directly to the matter of being a planner: Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest”– and your poverty will come in like a vagabond, and your need like an armed man.
The question that could be asked is, what is it exactly that the ant is being commended for in these verses? The answer is that she is commended because she plans ahead, and she does it without being told. Planning ahead and working ahead are the key lessons from this passage here. But sadly, many individuals are not nearly as effective as they could be because they fail to plan. Simply, we ought to plan because our Lord commands us to plan.
- God wants you to plan because we want to be good stewards of the very resources and opportunities that He entrusted us with. In First Corinthians 4:2, we are told; Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. Each of us has been blessed by God in unique ways. When I think of the people I encounter each week, I see a broad diversity of skills and abilities; all given by a loving God. Remember the words of our Savior in Luke 12:48; to whom much is given, much is required. As followers of the Lord, we don’t just want to coast…. or drift through our lives. Whatever talents God has entrusted to us, when He returns, we want to have multiplied those talents as much as we can based on our abilities. That’s the context of the statement Jesus made in a key parable, Well done thou good and faithful servant. The point is that planning is a matter of stewardship.
- God wants you to plan because we want to be goal-oriented and therefore effective instead of being simply busy, but ineffective. There’s a well-known saying: It’s easy to be busy, but it’s hard to be effective. That is so true of many people. In First Timothy 5:13, Paul is instructing Timothy about discipling widows…and it’s interesting what he says about younger widows; At the same time, they learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. What’s striking about this passage is that here are people not that far removed from our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection… yet they were wasting incredible amounts of time, instead of faithfully and effectively fulfilling Christ’s mission. And isn’t it also interesting that the term that has been coined to describe people like this is…’busybodies’? Of course this is an extreme example, but the principle is the same; through ineffective living, we can waste the very resources God has given us. It’s easy to see ourselves in another contemporary saying; If Satan can’t ‘cause you to sin,’ he’ll just make you… ‘busy.’
The elements of a God-honoring personal plan
Are you convinced that planning is for you, but need help getting started? Here’s a relatively easy method to create an effective personal plan. You start by outlining some basic answers to the eight questions below.
- What is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
- What does Jesus Christ say my annual and life goals should focus on?
- What is my responsibility as a husband/wife?
- What is my responsibility as a father/mother?
- What is my responsibility as an employee (or business owner)?
- What is my responsibility as a part of a local church?
- What is my responsibility to those who live around me?
- What is my responsibility to those people I care about (friends and extended family)?
For each of the above questions, write a brief summary description of what that responsibility looks like. This shouldn’t be more than a few sentences. If you have some maturity as a Christian, you can also study and cite the Scripture upon which these descriptions are based. Here’s a helpful hint; if you write these descriptions as positive affirmations, it can help you visualize living out each role with maximum effectiveness.
Here is an example of a completed first description:
My personal relationship with Jesus: As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I love the Lord my God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. It is my first and most urgent priority to seek to know God in a way that is real and that serves as my primary motivation in life. I believe in a true eternal life and therefore I live this life with an eternal perspective at all times.
The best part is that an effective description goes beyond any one year and can even represent what you want to look like at the end of your life.
Here’s another way to jump-start your thought process. A friend taught me a simple method for right thinking. He used four simple, little words: “If so, then what?” So, if you love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, well… then what? Here’s a parallel example: If you love bass fishing, aren’t you going to learn as much as you can about it, hang out with the best bass fishermen you can find, and go fish at Monster Bass Lake every Saturday? See the “if so, then what” about bass fishing? Now, isn’t the Lord a bit more important than a two-pound fish?
Do you love your wife? Well, ‘if so, then what?’ Doesn’t it make sense to learn as much as you can about her, hang out with her, and spend your weekends doing things with her.
How about your kids? Do you love them more than Buffalo Wings and the playoffs? If so…
Jesus Christ’s goals and plans for you are much more simple, yet elegant, than any New Year’s resolutions we could ever dream up. It’s interesting to see how focusing on a progression of eight personal planning statements can be liberating. If you love your Lord, how then should you behave?
A friend of mine once said his personal philosophy was ‘where ever you go, there you are…’ It sounds cute, but I don’t want, one glorious day in the future, to be standing before my creator explaining why my life was uninspired and ineffective.
As I am wrapping up this post, I’m looking at the little sticker that’s been taped to the bottom of each of my office computer monitors for the past twenty years. It says “God is watching, so give Him a good show.” My prayer today is that those reading this will decide to intentionally PLAN to give their glorious creator a really good show; a ‘well done, thou faithful servant’ show.