How Christian Businesses Plan for an Unknown Future
Planning is essential in every business. The adage goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, that is exactly where you will end up,” which is absolutely true! Still, as humans, we can never honestly know what will unfold before us in the hours, minutes, or seconds ahead. Our perspectives are limited to our finite ability to comprehend the infinite wisdom of an omniscient God. So how can we plan when we don’t know what the future holds?
This is the subject matter of countless blogs and life-coaching seminars and seems to be an almost existential topic, but the reality and our summation are “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Planning provides a roadmap that directs your every step closer to your goals. Planning requires attention to detail and forethought to include contingencies along the way. Planning requires flexibility as “the best-laid plans don’t survive first contact,” and so we must adopt the mindset to adapt to the changing landscape of circumstance.
Plan as we may, we are always going to be confronted by uncertainties and circumstances that are beyond our control. Still, with some understanding of biblical wisdom, the believer can view life and its many obstacles as opportunities to witness the unfolding of God’s divine plan while growing in faith and staying mentally and spiritually astute.
In the Scriptures, we find a wealth of information about planning, and one verse that is typically brought to bear in conversations around planning is located in the book of James 4:13-17, which reads,
“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 a sin.”
A precursory glance at this verse leaves the reader wondering if planning is even an option. But as we drill down into the passage, we understand that the plans are not what went awry but the heart behind the plans. For you see, planning in and of itself is perfectly acceptable, whereas we run astray is when we fail to recognize that it is God who governs our lives. When we trust in the plans of a divine Creator, we can’t be disappointed. With our plans, if they fall outside of the scope of God’s perfect and permissive will for us in our lives, we will never realize our goals. That is why the author calls the futile plans that fail to recognize the LORD are evil. But notice too the last passage of these verses, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is a sin.” When we trust in the LORD, there is no room for boasting. Boasting about the future when we don’t know what the next second holds for us is not only futile but arrogant. It is easy to talk about humility and dependence on God than to live it out. Still, if we don’t act in obedience by seeking out the LORD’s will for us in our plans, we have no secure path by which to walk. And so James points out that if we know to do something good, that is, we know that the direction we choose to take our plans is in alignment with God’s WORD (and hence God’s will), and we do not do what we know is correct, then we are in sin.
The song by the rock band Rush, “Free Will,” does an excellent job of pointing out a simple truth: “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” As believers, we make choices every day; the question is, do we make choices and plans trusting in the LORD for His direction and His provision, or do we set out to claim the future as our own? As believers, the choice is clear; we choose the LORD’s way over our own because we understand that the LORD alone knows our futures. But even better than that, we know that the LORD desires the very best for us, and sometimes that runs counter to what we may feel is best at the time. This is where trust and faith play a significant role in the way believers plan for the future.
So what does this look like practically lived out in the life of a believer? How can we apply this biblical knowledge to our careers, family life, and other relationships where planning becomes necessary?
Proverbs gives us some wisdom on this matter as well. Proverbs 16:3 states, “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (ESV). This remarkable verse speaks of our responsibility to serve God and the result of discharging our duty faithfully.
The verb, commit, literally means “to roll.” Just as the LORD used men to roll away the stone to reveal the risen LORD, there is a sense in which we must roll away our prerogatives to show God’s plans for our lives. The stone was rolled away at the tomb to reveal that which had already taken place. So likewise, when we get out of the way of the LORD, we can see by faith what has already taken place without actually knowing the reality of our future. For you see, God does not operate on our timeline. The fact is that His plans for us are for our well-being, He knows better than we do, and we can trust Him in all things. When we commit our plans to the LORD, He establishes them. This requires us to do our part and offer up our plans to the LORD for His approval. Only then should we take steps in the direction of the outline of our plans, and we can do this with confidence, knowing that we are trusting in the LORD to make all of the necessary course corrections along the way.
We are happiest when making decisions that are not influenced by the world or are tandem with sinfulness. When godly counsel influences our plans as opposed to worldly wisdom, and we delight in the LORD as He takes on our journey through life, we can better see and understand the laws that govern God’s people, even delighting in them. When we make His WORD the central focus of our lives, we can rest assured that we are walking with Him, and He never goes astray.
Commit your ways to the LORD, let your plans be centered around His will, and He will bless your efforts according to His measure and beyond our ability to comprehend.
“You want to hear God laugh, tell Him about your plans for tomorrow” –Author Unknown
“Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” – Proverbs 6:6-11
At HalStruc, our prayer is that this devotional will impact your life in a profound way, and build you up to be the best believer you can be in Christ.