“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:13–17
James reminds us to be diligent and to focus on the present, because tomorrow is not promised. Christians commonly reference this passage to relieve anxieties about the future, but it’s important to note that this verse does not relieve us of the responsibility to plan wisely. As we await our eternal glory in Heaven, we must embrace the last principle above: it is sin not to do what we know we should.
Relying on God doesn’t mean doing nothing. It’s a dangerous misconception to think we don’t need to plan, we just need to pray hard enough, or we should make a very specific plan and expect God to bless it. And it’s unrealistic to set goals and expect to achieve them without changing behavior. (See more on this in a couple of videos by C12 – “The Active Adventure of Faithful Dependence” and “Prudent Planning or Spiritual Whimsy?”)
Focusing exclusively on today would spell disaster for tomorrow. King Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Future planning is not like looking into a crystal ball; it is assessing where things are headed while maintaining open hands for flexibility to adapt. (Chief Foresight Agent is one of the nine essential roles of Christian CEOs (read about all nine in our infographic.)
King David wanted to build a temple for the Lord. Despite how noble the vision was, the Lord redirected David’s execution plan. In faithful obedience, David not only listened and surrendered his plans to the Lord; he also took the necessary steps in the present to prepare for the future (1 Chron. 17:1–12 and 22:2–5).
How do we look ahead while holding our plans loosely and keeping our eyes on God? Active faith and biblical stewardship call us not to dwell on and worry about tomorrow but to be wiser because of yesterday, present today, mindful of tomorrow, and anchored in an eternal perspective.
Four Guideposts That Orient Strategic Planning
We discussed the following questions in recent C12 Business Forums. Consider reflecting on them, too.
What attitudes toward planning please God? What attitudes disappoint Him?
How do you avoid disappointment or frustration when unforeseen circumstances disrupt your plans?
When it comes to strategic planning, how do you combine a Spirit-led mindset with robust general management?
“We were pursuing our dreams, goals, [and] objectives with open hands
and relentless abandon, and staying dead to the results.” –The Benham Brothers
(Hear their full talk at our business leaders’ conference, CURRENT’21.)
Our planning discipline will likely look different than our neighbors’ because we aren’t just planning for a business but a Business as a Ministry (BaaM). We do not want to barge ahead of God’s will for our businesses. We do, however, want to take responsibility and faithfully steward what He has assigned to us. Being a steward implies managing something that belongs to someone else with that person’s best interest in mind. How do we figure out God’s will for our business in the next year? God calls us to manage the beautiful tension between diligently planning and faithfully trusting His providence (Ps. 127:1–2). We visioneer. We figure out what we can. We pray for wisdom and guidance. We seek counsel from peers. (Have a big decision you’re contemplating? See our 5-Point Discernment Tool.)
Enter 2022 with a solid plan to responsibly and faithfully steward with your team.