Sermon - Proverbs: Planning

I am posting my sermon notes from a talk I gave to the Engage Mexico students in February. Because I have come a long was in my planning abilities I wanted to share some biblical principals about planning. I have learned a lot over the last 5 years about how to be a leader, run a business, do ministry, teach, and be a good husband. These notes were written for myself, so the formatting might be odd, and there are notes for myself as well. So please excuse some of the mess.

Tonight I wanted to talk tonight about planning. I think this might be a topic we miss often, because, well it's not really the most exciting subject. But it is something that I have been passionate about for the last few years, and something that has taken me a long time to figure out.

My favorite book of the bible is Proverbs. Probably because I went to public school and Proverbs is a very easy read. There is so much wisdom that God gives us from Proverbs. But specifically I want to share what God has to say about our plans and planning. There is some very specific advice God gives us, and I want to share those tools with you.

Now it is important to note that not everyone is a natural planner, but it is important to ask God for the ability to plan.

First, I want to share a bit about myself as it relates to planning. I am an awful planner. It might be one of the hardest things for me to do and I work really hard and keeping plans and systems in place. The hard truth about life is that most people spend their life working. Either on the mission field, or in a job once we leave here. The goal should be to be working on your life, not just in it. Most people who are working in their life are constantly in a reaction mode.

By reaction mode, I mean, we take it as it comes. We respond to emails when they come in, we post a Facebook message as soon as someone comments on our pictures, we take on school assignments as they come at us.

But our goal should be to work on our life, not just in it!

Now, I am what people call a serial entrepreneur. Starting and running businesses is something I love, God has wired me in this weird way. Which is also a curse because life can become exceedingly overwhelming. Currently, I am running four different businesses, with two more launching this year. All with different employees, goals, and plans.

On top of that, I am married, so I have to set a plan for our marriage. Planned date nights might not seem the most romantic idea in the world, but it's the only way between my schedule and Breanne's we have time to go out.

I am also involved in going to ministries here, and I still have some ministry work that I am doing back in the states.

I don't tell you this to boost my own ego. But I do want you to get an idea that without any planning, my life would be in chaos. Complete chaos. Which it was when I was in college.

[Art School Example One]

So let's rewind to my first year of college. I was an art school student, going to one of the most expensive art schools around. I had a general idea about why I wanted to go to Art School. I went because I had found a passion for photography.

I love everything about photography. I love being creative. I love black and white. I love color. Printing my own prints. Searching out the city of Seattle for unique and crazy things to take photos of was amazing.

[Story about bomb threat]

So the idea of Art School was awesome. But the real problem with my entire college education is that I didn't ever plan. I was a reactionary person. I took assignments as they came, I was the guy pulling an all niter trying to get a 10 page paper done. A paper assignment I had for three weeks, but waited until the last night to start it.

[Stories about skipping classes, sleeping too late, etc]

It was that chaos that caused me to fail miserably. I made it through all but two quarters of my degree, before I got a letter from the dean of the art department informing me that because my GPA was below 2.5, I couldn't continue on with the program.

I was devastated. I knew I was supposed to be doing art and design but I never knew that I would be asked not to return to school.

It took me almost 5 years to bounce back from that devastation, it also took me those 5 years to figure out, that if I am going to be able to achieve my goals, and Gods goals for my life. I would have to figure out how to plan.

So about 2 years ago, I figured out that not only does God want us to plan. He gives us guidance on how to do so. So tonight I want to share with you God’s tools for planning. Because a lack of a plan will lead us to fail and fail hard. Often times damaging our relationships and ministries God has called us to.

First, let’s take a look at what might seem like an obvious point, but I think we miss:

Do Not Plan Evil -“Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.” - Proverbs 3:29

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: ...a heart that devises wicked plans” - Proverbs 6:13

“Whoever plans to do evil will be called a schemer.” - Proverbs 24:8

For all of us I would encourage you to take time to evaluate your plans and ask God if what you are doing is really something he wants, or that could be used for Evil. A lot of people either spend time not planning, or planning for evil. So I would encourage you to go to look at your heart and make sure the plans you are devising are good plans, not evil ones.

1) Plan with Prayer “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” - Proverbs 16:3

Jesus, before he started his public ministry prayed first.

It's funny to me how many times I start a project or a task, then I catch myself and ask: "Did I even talk to God about this?"

God wants to be involved of all aspects of our lives, especially the plans we are about to create.

Don’t start your plans without going to Jesus first. You were brilliantly created, he knew you in your moms womb, and has a plan for your life! We should incorporate him in to plans of our life, large and small. When we have big plans, the best thing to do is to adopt silence and solitude. Just get away.

Shut off cell phones, email, facebook, etc. Take time to be in silence and solitude.

Before you make the huge decisions, make a plan and start your plan with prayer.

Silence and solitude brings clarity of thought.

Confidence of plan. Some of you are not confident in what God has for your life, prayer helps build confidence. For me, confidence was always an issue I struggled with. I was always concerned with my life, I doubted constantly what I was doing, I had issues communicating with people, because I lacked confidence.

It wasn’t until I spent time in prayer and God’s providence gave me confidence in his plan for my life. What a change! When we have confidence in God’s plan, we are able to move forward 100% confidently in our actions.

I would encourage you before, you take a job, before you choose your major, before you get in a relationship, you would take time and spend in silence and solitude for prayer.

2) Plan with Counsel “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” - Proverbs 15:22

“Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.” - Proverbs 20:18

Some of us don’t seek counsel because we are proud. Some of us just don’t want to bother someone.

Plans require counselors. For example, if your choosing your major, or about moving, or changing colleges. Seek counsel.

Without the right counsel it doesn’t matter how smart you are, you will make a plan that will have a much higher chance to fail. Some of the biggest failures in my life, were because I didn’t seek out Godly counsel.

3) Work Your Plan “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” - Proverbs 21:5

You can’t be hasty. Most of us are. Hasty in relationships, in friendships, in purchases. You will come to poverty. Come to counsel and be diligent.

Most of you have some type of budget. But if your struggling, its because your not doing it. Some of us, had a great diet for a day.

If I start something, I am going to be diligent. I am going to see it through to the finish. If I start a ministry, I will see if though. If I start job or relationship, or diet, I will see it through. That is being diligent.

Sticking to something, pushing forward is being a diligent worker. You often see people trying different things, tossing things to the wall to see what sticks, because they don’t have a plan. They are not being diligent. It’s important for us to get with God, seek out this plan, find counsel, and work diligently with confidence.

Life Example

For me, starting and running the business is the fun part. Planning is the nightmare. I’ve woken up many times at night because I had been dreaming about my lack of planning. Now Breanne, on the other hand is a freak. If you have spent any time with her, you have learned that she LOVES planning, organization, and getting things done.

I watched her with Rebeka the other night, helping her with some planning, and I could tell Breanne was in her happy place. Give my wife a planner and she is happy.

I’ve realized that most married couples tend to have one planner, and one person who isn’t. But sometimes I have ran into those couples that are both planners. Theses are the crazy people who’s plans have plans. They love label makers and plastic bins!

As someone who runs businesses, I have to make plans. It’s part of the job. I have to plan, organize, and find a way to make those plans happen. For the last two years, I worked full time at an ad agency, while running my business, which turned out to be 60 hour work weeks. Most of the week, I would go to work, come home at 7pm, eat dinner, and get out my laptop and work until midnight. Not only did this have a mental and physical toll on me, but it took a toll on our marriage. I had a hard time finding time to spend with Breanne or our family. All because I didn’t have a plan.

4) Alter Your Plan “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” - Proverbs 16:9

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand” - Proverbs 19:21

What he says is this: you can pray, seek counsel, put together a plan, and you know what God might intervene and take it a direction you might not have seen.

Some people are so stuck their plan, that when it is not working out they refuse to alter the plan. You can put together a plan. You can seek Gods will, and be diligent, but God intervenes and changes the plan.

If you don’t have a plan, your life will be in chaos.

Few final things:

1) Write it down. It helps, it really does. With a pen, on a paper! Your not always going to have time to pull out your phone of laptop to jot down an idea. I carry a Moleskin on me most of the time. If not, I always make sure I have something close to me, incase it need to jot down something.

Often times this comes in the form of counsel. I will be talking with people, and they are providing me counsel on something in my life, they might not even know it. But I jot down all my thoughts, so I have them ready when I need them.

A lot of us keep mental notes. This makes them really hard to remember, or modify, or share. It's hard for me to share my plans with Breanne when I don't have them written down.

Everything should be written in once place. Don't be one of those sticky note people with things everywhere, just utter chaos.

[Talk about my desk pre-breanne.]

Most people us systems that are far too complicated. My brother-in-law is always coming up with this new system to stay organized. He has a tool in his email program, that sends an email to is task list, which then updates his phone, which then updates his calendar, which then his wife can see.

Last time I asked how it was going, he said, he gave up, me forgot how his system worked. It just got too complicated.

2) When you make a plan, you have to look at the downside.

Some of you are eternal optimists. Should I go to that college, should I pick that major, do I want to start that ministry. For Breanne and myself, we bought a house right after we were married, because that's what you did. But we didn't take the chance to look at the downside. We hated everything about the house, the location, the size, the cheep materials, the fact that every other house looked like ours.

Make sure you have a contingency plan and look at the other side, before you make a decision.

3) Make room for fun and margin of error. It is important when looking at your plans, to make time for yourself. Budget time for fun and things you want to do. Particularly when it comes to planning your life.

Talk about 60 hour work weeks, and no time off. Talk about stress and pain the in chest.

4) Accept the size of plate that you have.

Some of you are big plate people, you can take on a lot. People look at you and think your insane for the amount of stuff you have going on.

Some of you are smaller plate people. It's not dinner plate side, its more like a dinner role plate. You can only take on a few smaller things at a time.

So if you add something to your plate, be sure to remove something to your plate. If you add another ministry, make sure you take something off your plate. If you add an extra class, make sure you take something off of your plate.

If you don't, that's when your late, or your broke, or you have a panic attack.

5) Schedule time off from technology.

Right now we are hitting a trend in society where we spend more time interacting with our technology, rather than each other. This was something I had to learn, from Breanne, about myself. Technology can pull me in. And it was often in our first year of marriage that she would ask me why I spent the whole night looking at my phone. I didn't even realize I was doing it!

Plan on when your going to check your email. If you email me, I have a notice that sends back that lets you know I only check my email twice a day.

So I set time in my calendar, where I shut off my phone, it doesn't need to be on 24 hours a day. I shut off my computer and won't pick it up. I make time for this, so I can spend more time with people.

Don't let it rule over you.

Questions 1) As a general rule, how are you are planning & working your plan? 2) Where is your planning weakest? Why? 3) Where is your planning strongest? Why? 4) What can you do to plan better?