“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” Proverbs 21:5 (ESV).
It’s not too early or too late to make plans for your immediate and distant future! Although we tend to take life one day at a time, Scripture challenges us to also look to the future – both physical and spiritual – and make plans and goals that challenge us to grow. Here are five ideas that can help:
1. Think about it ahead of time
“Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it” Proverbs 21:20 (ESV)
God expects us to be wise stewards of the things He gives us. We are to “count the cost” (Lk 14:25-33) as we make our plans and set our goals. And this applies to spiritual things too – recognizing and planning for the sacrifices being a disciple of Jesus will require of us. We want to be ready!
2. Include physical and spiritual things
“…whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)
There is a temptation to forget spiritual things when we focus on physical things, but it is also possible to forget about physical things when focused on spiritual things. Physical things are never as important as spiritual things, but they are necessary. Failure to plan and budget physical things can leave us destitute and unable to serve others. Have work goals (Ep 4:28; 1 Th 4:11-12). Have spending goals that avoid debt you cannot pay (Ro 13:8). Budget to give to the Lord and others (2 Co 9:7). Make sure your time and resources reflect your commitment to God. Plan daily Bible reading (alone, group, family, etc.). Commit to praying regularly, attending more worship assemblies, doing more Bible study (alone or with someone).
3. Seek advice
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in the abundance of counselors there is safety” Proverbs 11:14 (ESV)
Have you made plans and budgets and resolutions in the past and failed? Ask for help. Seek spiritually minded advice from those you respect. Get a partner to hold you accountable.
4. Challenge yourself
“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty” Proverbs 14:23 (ESV)
Make your plan doable, but also challenging. If our goals don’t challenge us to stretch and strain they will not produce growth. Impossible or overly aggressive goals will likely fail and bring discouragement or even guilt. However, heed the warnings of Proverbs about being lazy! (Pr 12:14; 13:4; 20:4; 22:13; 26:16)
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)
Ask God’s help in making your plans plan AND for carrying it out according to His will. Remember to plan “if the Lord wills” as James 4:14-15 teaches – and accept His will!