“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” –Benjamin Franklin
I say it every year…this is the year I am going to read through the Bible. This is the year I am going to read 50 books. This is the year I am going to set goals and follow through on every one of them. Then, February comes. I know…I have been there. The initial passion for the plan subsides and life gets busy. So, here we go again with a new year and most of us are setting goals for the year that will last three or four weeks. I am not taking a shot at your failure to follow through on what you have promised yourself you will do…I am just stating a fact. I am in the same boat with you.
I was thinking recently…why do we set goals? What makes us want to set goals for our lives? Maybe it is because we know we are not reaching our full potential. Maybe it is because we want to make a difference in the world. Maybe it is because we want to live the only earthly life we have to the fullest. All of these answers are true and good, but I believe the real answer is found in something deeper and more significant. Not that the answers above are too shallow, but there is something more meaningful to our desire to plan and set goals…I believe we are hardwired by our Creator to succeed by planning. Think about it…God plans. From the beginning, He had a plan for the redemption of the world. God did not just hover around for thousands of years and then one day look at the other members of the Trinity and the angels and say,
“Jesus, it is time to go. Angels, you need to find someway to tell some people on earth Jesus is coming…figure it out. Holy Spirit, you need to have a role in this thing too…I am not sure what it is because I have not thought much about it, but we cannot leave you out. Alright guys and neuter beings, let’s do this. Ready…Break!”
This sounds ridiculous, right?! Excuse my crazy parallel, but if we were in charge of finding the right time to send Jesus and redeem the world, this would probably be our approach. Let’s face it: most of us are poor planners and even worse executors of our plans. I want to challenge you to change the way you think of planning. I want to challenge you to think of planning as necessary. I want to challenge you to think of planning as essential…God planned out every intricate detail of Jesus’s arrival because he wanted the Savior’s entrance to be perfect…and it was. If we desire to reflect the image of our Creator, we are missing something if we fail to plan and set goals.
“Hey, check this out…I decided yesterday I am going to get in my car and ride aimlessly until I see a sign that looks appealing as a final destination or until something hits me in the face as a good place to land. How long will it take? Who knows…maybe days or weeks. But I know I am supposed to be somewhere and I know I cannot stay here, so I am going to ride.”
‘Tis life for a lot of us. We hop in our car and ride around the roads of our life hoping to end up somewhere, but most of us never do. In the process, we waste a lot of gas and time. Then life is over. Wow, that sounds really somber. I apologize.
Remember: time is a non-renewable resource. It is the most valuable resource we have because we cannot get it back. Almost everything our society places value on we can create more of (or earth can naturally create more of). This is not true with time. If you or I waste a day, it is impossible for us to get it back. It is gone forever. Here is a good question to ask yourself…”Am I being a good steward of my time? Am I investing my time well?” Can I be frank with you (notice the pun…it is intended), I do not think watching inordinate amounts of television is really investing time. Neither is spending inordinate amounts of time playing Xbox or watching Netflix. These things are not inherently bad, but when a large portion of your free time is spent on yourself, there is a problem. And here is a dirty little secret…if you do not plan how you will spend your day, you will default to something meaningless and insignificant. I have seen it too many times in my own life.
One more thing then I am done…
Satan is going to tell you planning is a waste of time. Satan is going to tell you goal setting is ridiculous…but be careful about listening to Satan. Jesus says he is the father of lies (John 8:44), and this makes sense because SATAN PLANS TOO (see Luke 4:13). He left Jesus in the wilderness until an “opportune” time. In other words, he planned the times when he would visit again. Satan knows if you refuse to plan, you will live a life of normalcy and not make much impact on the world. He is cool with that. Normalcy is a scheme of Satan.
So, here is my challenge to you: Set goals for the year. Have a plan for your day (I use this productivity schedule to help me invest my time in meaningful ways and stay focused). Have a plan for the year. Have a plan for the next five years. Have a plan for the next ten years. Then take time and map out that plan. You can say this is being structured and rigid, and I say yes and no. It is very structured, but only as rigid as you allow. But remember, we are made in the image of God, and our God is pretty structured. In your planning, do not become so rigid that you do not allow plans to be adapted and changed, but also do not become so flexible that you allow everything to take precedent over your goals and plans.
When we plan we reflect the image of our Creator.
I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!