Is it OK to plan?

I had the opportunity to listen to a very good motivational speaker this morning who strongly emphasized the difference planning and setting goals makes.  He said that only 10% of Americans actually set measurable goals for their life.  Many more have goals, but they are ones assigned to them by someone else, such as a boss or wife (just kidding, honey, if you happen to be reading this!!!)  Of them only 4 of the 10 have taken the time and initiative to write down their goals and of them only 1 of the 4 reviews their goals on a daily basis.  But that 1 out of 100 achieves a lifetime earnings of 9 times the rest. 

But, if I’m turning over my life to God’s will, should I be making plans as well?  By focusing on my plans am I denying God’s plan for me?

As I pondered and prayed on this throughout the day I realized the answer is a favorite politician answer – “it depends.”  What I realized is that the spirit of the goals is the most important element.

Let’s look at scripture.  If I set a goal to accumulate wealth or possessions then the relevant scripture is the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12 who built bigger barns and silos to store up his riches.  In other words, if my goals are about my wants and desires for worldly gain, then I’m probably not on the right path.

However, I think there is support in the scripture as well for setting honorable kingdom goals.  Paul in 1 Cor 9 and 2 Tim 4 talks about running the race.  Clearly, a race has a starting point and a goal or finish line.  Paul doesn’t talk about running aimlessly, he talks about a race. 

What I walked away with was a realization that I should absolutely set goals, but those goals should be based on prayer, scripture and biblical principles.  Having a goal to provide for my wife and family so that they have the opportunities to feel safe, sheltered and protected so they can further their walk with the Lord is in alignment.  I can make that measurable, timebound, etc.  Having a specific goal of tithing or better yet, exceeding a tithe by a certain percentage is in alignment.  Having a goal of using my spiritual gifts in a planned, set way, is honoring to God.

The picture I came up with is an annual review at work, where you walk in and sit down with the boss and he says, “OK, let’s go over the goals that you have set and how you’ve done against them this year.”  If the goals I set are all about me and maximizing what I take away, I am clearly not a good steward and not an employee who is long for the job.  I would be embarassed to share those goals, regardless of how I did on them.  However, if my goals were about growing others, growing in my work, better utilizing the resources I had been given, then I would feel honored to share those and admit my accomplishments and struggles.  I also think that would be a far better discussion than trying to explain that I didn’t do anything because no one set goals for me.

I think this is part of what Christ was trying to explain in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 and Luke 19.  There is an explanation that we take initiative that we set goals and that those goals be in alignment with the mission we have been given.  God made it clear what he wants from us – to do His will. 

At some point we all reach the conclusion of the race.  We all face a judgment day.  We are all running – the question is whether we are on the race path or going in circles.