The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. Proverbs 21:5 (NKJV)
With many Christians, planning has a bad name.
Some think that if they make plans concerning their life, they are forsaking the leadership of the Holy Spirit. So, instead of making and following plans to reach their goals, they believe it is more spiritual to just let the Holy Spirit lead them step by step every day.
Others don’t have so much of a theological objection to planning, but they do have spontaneous personalities. For them, it’s really uncomfortable to tie themselves down to a plan. They would much rather just let life happen, and react to events as they occur. After all, they say, God has promised to direct, protect and provide for them, no matter what life brings their way.
Then there are the Christians who have no particular problem with goals and plans. It’s just that they are hard work and take time. So, although they can see benefits to doing more planning in their lives, somehow they just never get around to it. I have to admit, this is where my own natural inclinations fall. I have worked as a Project Manager, which meant that planning to complete projects was my job. But when it comes to my own life, it’s easier for me to just jump in and do what I need to do rather than to plan it out up front.
But Scripture is teaching me that having plans in life, and in fact, a plan for life, is both godly and important. The truth is, if I don’t appropriately plan to reach God-given goals, I will fall far short of accomplishing all He has planned for me. That, at least, is how I read Proverbs 21:5.
The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty. That word diligent is already a big part of my life. The book of Proverbs makes it abundantly clear that diligence, the willingness to work hard and consistently at the appointed task, is an indispensable element of success in life. This verse shows that proper planning is an integral aspect of diligence. In other words, if I want God to plentifully supply in my life, I should expect Him to do so in proportion to how much of the hard work of planning I am willing to put in.
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty. A modern term for “hasty” is last-minute. When you don’t plan, you end up being a last-minute kind of person. You are always scrambling, working right up to the deadline to finish what could have been easily and comfortably accomplished if you had just done it in a timely way. Plus, you usually end up with a result that is slipshod, incomplete, and lacking in true excellence. No wonder hastiness leads to poverty!
So what have I learned from Proverbs 21:5? It’s very simple – I need to plan! And then I need to diligently execute my plan. I should not expect God’s provision to just show up in my life because I love Him and have faith. He makes it abundantly clear in Scripture that His normal way of supplying our needs is through our hard work. And planning ahead to achieve the goals or perform the tasks God puts on my plate is an essential component of the hard work that leads to plenty.
Because of my former profession, I’ve actually had quite a bit of training in how to do effective planning. But I still need to periodically refresh and update that knowledge. Perhaps you, too, could use some help with the planning process. One of the great things about today’s connected world is the immense number of resources that are available at the click of a mouse. So, let’s use the web and train ourselves!
There is one more crucial issue we need to address concerning how a Christian does planning in his or her life, and we need to get it on the table from the very beginning.
” ‘Woe to the rebellious children,’ says the LORD, ‘who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin” Isaiah 30:1
I must plan. I must take the initiative and be diligent about it. But my planning must be bathed in prayer, so that my plans are based upon God’s guidance. As Isaiah says, woe to him who plans on his own, without being led by the Spirit of God!