WHY PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE DOESN’T MEAN YOU LACK FAITH

Question:

What should I say to a friend who believes the Bible teaches that it’s wrong to make plans? She quotes Jesus’ words as proof that Christians ought not to set goals or make plans, Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:34 NIV)? My friend points out the admonitions about planning that are repeated elsewhere in Scripture such as in James 4:13-14,

Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow…Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’

Because of these teachings, she will not make any plans for tomorrow even like accepting an invitation to come to my house for dinner. It’s very frustrating.

Answer:

Your friend has latched onto an unfortunate translation of the Greek. The verb translated in the King James translation as “take no thought” is better translated in the New International Version translation as “do not worry.” Jesus is not advising us to stop making plans and setting goals. He is advising us not to worry about anything, including plans or coming events. You might remind your friend of Bible passages that put planning and goal-setting in proper balance between faith and anxiety, between planning and trusting God for outcomes.

In fact, Jesus had goals and made plans. Dr. Luke records, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) Jesus made other plans as well. For instance, Matt.6:17-19 and Luke 22:2-13 show that Jesus had already made prior arrangements with the owner of the house where he was to eat the Passover with his disciples.

The Apostle Paul was constantly setting goals and making plans. In Romans 15:20-24, Paul wrote, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation…But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions and since I have been longing for many years to see you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain…” -Romans 15:20-24 NIV

Rev. Steve Brown of Key life Ministries agrees that we Christians ought not to be excessively anxious. But he also believes in the importance of goals and plans. He notes, “Needs are not met by accident. Things just don’t happen in a church. They happen by planning and organization. It sounds very spiritual to say that the Holy Spirit will do everything needful, but it just isn’t true in a biblical sense. On almost every page of the gospels we see Jesus as a Man with a plan.”

Isn’t it noteworthy that our salvation was all part of God’s plan? Ephesians 1:11 states,
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.

A FEW BIBLICAL STATEMENTS ABOUT PLANNING & GOAL SETTING: 

Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.
-Proverbs 24:3-4

Get good advice and you will succeed; don’t go charging into battle without a plan. –Proverbs 20:18

We should make plans–counting on God to direct us.
-Proverbs 16:8

We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands.
-Proverbs 16:1

Where there is no vision, the people perish.
-Proverbs 29:18

A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them. The simpleton never looks, and suffers the consequences.
-Proverbs 27:12

Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.
-Proverbs 24:3,4

Plans go wrong with too few counselors; many counselors bring success.
Proverbs 15:22

Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out. -Proverbs 16:3

David said, Because the hand of the Lord was upon me and he gave me understanding in all the details of the plan. David also said to Solomon, his son, Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the Lord is finished.
-Chronicles 28:19-20 NIV

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust him and he will do this
Psalm 37:4,5

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
-Hebrews 11:1

THE DANGERS OF NOT SETTING GOALS AND PLANNING

I Shot My Arrow

“I shot my arrow into the sky.
I hit no thing. How did it fly.
I hit no thing for I did not try.
I just shot my arrow into the sky.”
-Author Unknown

Spring Is Past

“Spring is past,
Summer is gone,
Winter is here,
And my song that I was meant to sing
Is still unsung.
I have spent my days
Stringing and unstringing my instrument”
-Unknown Oriental Poet

“For all the sad works of tongue and pen,
The saddest of these: It might have been!”
-John Greenleaf Wittier

“I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail, than attempt to do nothing and succeed!”
-Author Unknown

THE BENEFITS OF PLANNING AND GOAL-SETTING

“Behold, the turtle-he makes progress only when he sticks his neck out!”
-J.B. Conant, former President of Harvard University.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore!”
-Author Unknown

“To do and dare–not what you would, but what is right. Never to hesitate over what is within your power, but boldly to grasp what lies before you. Not in the flight of fancy, but only in the deed there is freedom. Away from timidity and reluctance! Out in the storm of event, sustained only by the Commandment of God and your faith, And freedom will receive your spirit with exultation.”
-Dietrich Bonfoeffer, Lutheran Pastor

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, And spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
-Theodore Roosevelt

“Man’s finest hour, his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear, is that moment he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle, victorious.”
-Vince Lombardi, Head Football Coach, Green Bay Packers

SUGGESTED STEPS FOR SETTING GOALS AND MAKING PLANS

1) Crystalize your thinking into a focused goal.

What is it you want to do? Boil it down in your thinking. Discuss your ideas with friends. Pray about it. Streamline it. Then, write it down! It’s easy to forget mental or even discussed ideas, but written goals remind us and keep us on course. Divide your goals into high priority and low priority.

2) Develop a concrete, measurable plan of action and a specific, deadline for achieving your goals.
Nothing great happens by accident. Success requires specific action! A plan of action bridges the gap between wish and fulfillment. Anticipate and identify obstacles and devise solutions.

Keep a notebook of your plan of goal(s), plan(s) of action and deadline(s).

* * * * * * *

“To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered that chance to do a very special thing, unique to him and fitted to his talents.”
-Sir Winston Churchill

Therefore, “Carpe Diem” (“Seize the Day”)!…Go For it!

Posted in
Jim

Jim

Hi, I'm Jim. I've been through the emotional wringer. I've been a successful pastor and leader and a loving father, but I've also been suicidally depressed. I'll teach you the techniques I used to heal myself, and give you the tools to reclaim your life and move forward!
freebie-mockup-1000

Are you suffering from a Mental health crisis? Start your healing journey today!

Get instant access to my FREE ebook that walks you through the nine critical steps you must take to survive a mental health crisis. The practical information in this guide has saved and enriched my own life and helped countless others. Click below and I'll email you a copy.

* indicates required