Life is full of stuff we don’t expect. For example, yesterday, a massive storm dumped an ocean load of rain in the afternoon, so my softball game was cancelled, unexptectedly. And I read this morning about Jesus’ disciples eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, something very unexpected within the Jewish culture.
For some of us, the unexpected isn’t too disturbing (if it’s not traumatic) because we enjoy spontaneous. For others of us, the unexpected is very disturbing because it interrupts our plans, compromises our productivity, distracts our focus and can throw us off balance.
Let’s appreciate that Holy Spirit often works in ways, through events, in conversations and experiences that we neither plan for nor expect. To this end, let’s allow Holy Spirit to keep our hearts and mindsets flexible so we can follow Holy Spirit with lithe agility 🙂
This week has lots of moving parts. My kids are finishing out the schoolyear, taking finals and doing work to get moving toward Summer. My daughter is graduating high school this week, so we’re hosting a graduation party at the end of the week. Additionally, there are some things at work that need some flexibility because of deadlines and workload. So all of this is requiring me to be flexible to adapt to these moving parts.
At the same time, being flexible doesn’t mean I get a free pass to be irresponsible. Indeed, being flexible lets me do what’s responsible in different and creative ways. So I’m adjusting my schedule, shifting days and events, so that I can continue to be responsible and attentive to the things that are priorities in my life: God, family and work. With God’s help, we can be both responsible and flexible in ways we don’t always consider 🙂
In theory, I plan my days & schedule stuff purposefully. So when my plans for the day get interrupted, I move to Plan B. And there are some days, when Plan B gets adjusted to Plan C, Plan D & . . . . You get the point. And a person could get very flustered with so many plan changes.
Or, a person could trust in our All-Wise God, knowing that His plans are better than our plans. To achieve that level of flexibility, it’s helpful to believe that God is loving & looking out for our best interests. It’s also helpful to recognize that our plans will never be better than Gods plans. So if you’re a planning kind of person, let’s be certain that we hold onto God more tightly than our plans 🙂
Doing important stuff can be intimidating & even overwhelming. And yet, I believe that we are on the planet to do important stuff.
For example, today I’m joining an amazing team to do strategic planning for Saving Moses. It’s an important activity because today’s outcomes affect babies & toddlers who would die or suffer abuse / neglect without our efforts. So we are doing important stuff!!
So when you do important stuff, here are some things that might be helpful:
Pray: it’s necessary to include God with important stuff
Plan: my husband helps me remember that proper prior planning prevents poor performance
Do: take a step & start even with something small to do / make progress
Teamwork: include people & be a good team player
Measure: it’s helpful to pause & take inventory of the progress & direction
I just finished a few days in Dubai & it’s very impressive what has been accomplished there in a few decades. Before 1970, the area was a small fishing village & the people there worked hard to squeak out a living in place with abundant heat, sun & sand but not much else. A leader in the area, Sheikh Zayed, had vision for the future that would use the discovery of oil to position this region for abundance, modern developments & opportunity. Today, the United Arab Emirates is highly developed & very impressive.
When we consider what is around us & what the future could be, let’s do some important things:
Oftentimes I’ll ask God to give me the finances to do stuff that’s on my heart. And sometimes the money comes, but more often God gives me creatives ideas, time, relationships & solutions that help me to make progress on various plans. I’m also learning that God gives me wisdom & / or endurance.
Let’s be certain to recognize that God absolutely supplies our needs, often in ways that we don’t anticipate. Sometimes, God can even change a need so that it can align with the provisions that we have!
I have lots of friends who are good at planning. They think through a journey, a project or responsibility with focused attention for:
preparing for the unexpected, as best as they can
Me, not so much. And that’s one of my shortfalls. If I told you of all the times when I’ve forgotten things (makeup, clothes, money, etc), shown up at the wrong time, been unprepared or shocked, maybe you’d smirk with a playful laugh. And hopefully you wouldn’t shame me with the normal, “You should know better, Sarah” because I already do that to myself enough 🙂
No matter if you’re a planner or prefer a more “spontaneous” approach, let’s be certain to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our steps and navigate the various destinations and outcomes. If you’re a planner, be careful that you don’t try to stay in control of the journey with the Holy Spirit. If you’re the spontaneous type, be sure to listen to the Holy Spirit for those gentle nudges / reminders about bringing stuff & keeping appointments 🙂
Planning isn’t one of my natural strengths, so the Holy Spirit has helped me grow in this area over the course of many years. I’ve come to appreciate that if I want to accomplish big dreams, then it’s important to develop some plans and structures for these dreams to become reality. So what happens when the plans don’t seem to work? Then what?
In the Gospel of Mark, I’ve been reading about how Jesus healed people, often not according to the human contrived plans, i.e, the Syrophoenician woman whom Jesus calls a dog, the 4 guys who break through a roof to get a paralytic in front of Jesus & the blind guy whom Jesus spits on for his healing. It seems to me that Jesus almost never follows our human plans, so it begs the question: why plan?
When you have plans to seem to go awry, maybe these ideas could be helpful:
plans help us think in constructive steps to achieve goals & dreams. No planning = no progress
planning with prayer is a massively helpful combination
consider Proverbs 16:9, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.”
Take a minute to order a copy of my newest book that can help you to stay
I had an interesting chat with one of my children this morning about the importance of planning. In our conversation, they told me that they didn’t want to make a plan for the summer to achieve a particular goal. I replied, as I’ve learned from my husband, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” As much as this quote rankles me, it’s nonetheless true, across a variety of platforms, including prayer!
Watch this quick video for an idea to help you with prayer!
I have teenage kids at home for Summer break. While I enjoy their company, I’m in their lives to help them be successful & time management is part of the drill. Here are some coaching points I’m giving them, that might be helpful reminders for you (and PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR IDEAS, as well):
Outcome Engineering: looking down the road, what are the big things that need to be achieved? Then develop steps & the timeline that will produce that achievement so it’s doesn’t become overwhelming or impossible by its size or urgency.
Incentives: do the work & save the fun as a reward rather than the reverse
Daily plan: create a daily routine that integrates the steps for the big projects, as well as the habits you want to foster.
Accountability: give someone or a few people permission to ask about your daily plan & progress on the big projects
What are some other things you’ve learned to help you be productive? Thanks for sharing!!
I’m not a planner. Indeed, spontaneity is fun for me & I enjoy being agile for various adventures, mostly. But I’ve come to appreciate that planning can often make things better & so I’ve learned to value the process.
With that said, I’m learning that God is both the Perfect Planner & Playful Partner. I can see the strategic hand of God when I look back at various seasons & experiences. But let’s also be willing to follow God moment by moment in nimble obedience & undisputed trust!
Have you ever made a plan only to find it go array? I have a friend who set a long term goal, worked diligently toward that goal for many years & now it seems like their efforts have completely unraveled & failed. Of course this can be super discouraging & when this kind of thing happens, we find ourselves on shaky footing & uncertain where to go or what to do.
So what should we do when our plans go array? Here are a few suggestions:
Step back & re-evaluate: sometimes a perspective adjustment can help us see a broader point of view & thereby improve our decisions
Seek God: if a crisis makes us seek God more than the crisis is good; if we don’t seek God more in a crisis, then the crisis can get infinitely worse
Who am I? A crisis often forces us to look at ourselves with greater clarity & objectivity. In this pause, the Holy Spirit can work on our character & shape us to be more Christ-like
Keep going & growing: don’t let detoured plans poison your thinking into quitting. Get up, brush yourself off, learn & keep going.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know that could be going through a course correction season 🙂
My husband is really good at planning all kinds of stuff. Currently, he’s planning our family vacation, a roadtrip from Denver to Washington DC to sightsee and explore our nation’s capital. I deeply appreciate his skill in planning and there have been innumerable occasions where his planning abilities have bailed me out, thank ya Jesus!
On the other side of planning is non-planning, or maybe the euphemism is spontaneity. This can be a fun way to do life, but risky to be sure. Whether you’re a planner or non-planner type person, let’s be sure that we are endeavoring to follow the Holy Spirit, full stop. Sometimes in our planning we can get so locked into the plan, that we shut out any guidance or direction from the Holy Spirit along the way. On the other side, the lack of planning can leave us in a place where we can’t follow the Holy Spirit, due to a lack of resources, time, energy or ability.
For the people who are planners, be careful to allow the flexibility in your plans to make adjustments should the Holy Spirit lead in a different direction. For the people who are non-planners, be careful to keep yourself with the resources where you can follow the Holy Spirit.
Whenever I go snowboarding, I’ve learned to check the weather forecast so I can be appropriately dressed. If it’s snowing, it helps to wear water repellant gear. If it’s cloudy, I try to remember to bring my flat light goggles. While you may find this to be boring, the principle remains that we need to prepare in advance for things that we know could be challenging or difficult. Sometimes if we know that we’re going to be in some tricky family situations (with Christmas around the corner), it helps to do some mental coaching ahead of time about the things we should or should not discuss. It helps to coach ourselves about our attitudes and some of our thinking so that when we get in some potential hotspots, we have done some preparation work ahead of time to help us with our words, actions and attitudes. Gear up my friends, in constructive ways, there could be some hotspots on the horizon in the next few weeks 🙂
Currently, I’m listening to my kids talk with their neighbor friends about doing a lemonade stand. It’s interesting to hear them talk through their ideas: dismissing some, adjusting some and embracing somek (along with some fun rabbit trails – Leonardo Davinci was left handed but wrote with his right hand so he wouldn’t smudge the ink). Anyways, there’s alot to be said for planning & I say this because I tend to not be very good at planning. I tend to leap before I look & then wonder how I got myself into these various messes. Thankfully, God had me marry an engineer, who can be the epitome of planning. My husband’s mantra to me is: if you fail to plan you plan to fail. I had to listen to that a few times before I could really appreciate that wisdom, even when it was counter-intuitive to me ,)
The flip side is that being spontaneous can be lots of fun!!! If you’re the planning type, be careful that you don’t get so stuck in the plans that you fail to do something; if you’re the spontaneous type, don’t neglect to plan so that you wind up in an unplanned mess 🙂
There have been situations in my life where I e asked God to do something & what I asked for didn’t happen. Quite often in these situations, what has happened instead of my request tended to be better than what I had asked for.
What we plan & ask for doesn’t always work out but we must always know, trust & believe that God loves us & God’s ways are always better & higher than our ways 🙂