The beginning of a new year always inspires us to plan and set new goals for the future. For the first Study With Mack of 2021, we walked through The Discipline of Planning by the Christan Institute of Management. This devotional examines a practical approach to planning as demonstrated by several biblical figures in their grandest undertakings.
Below is a recap of the 7-day devotional; check out the full devotional for yourself here.
Day 1: Pray or Plan?
Scripture: Proverbs 16:3
Should we pray or should we plan? Many people pray and leave the rest to chance. Others plan but fail to consult God first. Nehemiah did both in his quest to repair and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Upon hearing of the desolation of the gates, he prayed and fasted, and humbled himself before God (Nehemiah 1:3-11). He then moved forward in faith, making his request to the King and gaining his blessing to do the work (Nehemiah 2).
Prayer is our acknowledgement of God’s power and our dependency on Him, and planning demonstrates our responsibility toward God and his will. Prayer also breathes confidence into our planning. Just like Nehemiah, when we consult God first, we know that He is with us in our planning.
Day 2: Counter Plan
Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11
In the book of Esther, Haman hatched a plan to destroys the Jews. When Mordecai heard this news, he was sad for a moment, then he enacted a counter plan. He fasted and prayed, then approached Esther, who in turn continued the counter plan against the enemy’s devices, with the assurance and understanding that her appointment was divine and God was with her (Esther 4:14).
We usually think of planning ahead for the “perfect world” scenario, but what about the curveballs? This is where a counter plan comes in to play. Opposition is a fact of life, but if God be for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31)? Just as Esther and Mordecai were assured, we can trust that our opposition cannot and will not prevail.
Day 3: Goalsetting
Scripture: Proverbs 21:5
Vision is a seed from God. Setting a goal is the first act of faith concerning that vision – an acknowledgement that it can and will manifest. Nehemiah’s process aligns to the SMART test – his goal to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound, as we should strive for our goals to be.
Day 4: Overcoming Obstacles
Scripture: Numbers 13:30
When the Israelites were on their way to the Promised Land, 12 spies were sent by Moses to recon the land. Ten spies were taken aback by the difficulties ahead and the literal giants in their way. They did not perceive their problems as solvable and they never made it to the expected end.
Problems are not predicaments. Often obstacles distract us from our ultimate goal. Judging our problems as predicaments to endure can cause us to mistakenly assess our goals as unattainable. Don’t forget that no matter how great the problem is God can solve it (Numbers 14:22). If God planned for you to succeed, He accounted for the “giants” in your journey. Trust Him to take you through.
Day 5: Who? What?
Scripture: Luke 14:28
Nehemiah managed resources well during the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and did well to share the vision with the laborers. He made clear why the project was necessary and reassured them that although daunting, the task had the backing of the Most High (Nehemiah 2:17-20). We then see that the building was an organized process with roles and responsibilities – each section of the wall was repaired by a different team (Nehemiah 3).
After determining what needs to be done in a project, the next important part of planning is determining who is needed to do it and the required resources. When working with others, it would serve us well to cultivate a sense of working toward a common, relevant goal. Dividing the work into reasonable milestones and assignments makes the work lighter for everyone.
Day 6: How?
Scripture: Exodus 26:30
Once Mordecai and Esther conferred to save their people from certain doom, Esther set a plan of action in motion. She got the ear of the king, then set up and prepared a banquet to state her case. This was a very dangerous undertaking, but again, her confidence was in God.
It is easy to talk yourself our of a plan when you can’t feel in all of the “how” blanks, or when the “how” seems unfeasible. Don’t focus on this, or limit the potential of your plan to your own strength. Much like Esther, Mordecai, and the Jews required God’s deliverance, we do, too. Be clear in your purpose and in God’s ability to perform it through you.
Day 7: Act
Scripture: Nehemiah 2:20
Sometimes you just have to move forward. There is such thing as “analysis paralysis,” or overthinking your plans to point of never acting upon them. Life is but a vapor (James 4:14), and tomorrow isn’t promised. If you find yourself in this place remember, let faith be your guide. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and without faith it is impossible to DO the things that please Him. So start taking steps toward your God-given goals TODAY.
What goals are you setting this year? Tell us below in the comments!