Plans that Succeed
by Tom Brown
sincere Christians have bought a dangerous lie: “To live by the Spirit is to
forsake planning.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Proverbs 16:1-3 says,
To man belong the plans of the heart, but
from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue. All a man's ways seem innocent
to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD. Commit to the LORD whatever
you do, and your plans will succeed.
Man has a right to plan; of
course, God has a right to redirect his plans. The point of this verse is
God has given to man the responsibility to make plans. If he is waiting for
God to give him the plan then he will wait a long time. God waits for us to
make plans, and then he will direct us along the way.
God promises to reply to
man’s plans, but how can God reply if there is nothing to reply to? In other
words, man must make the plan first, and then God will reply to it.
When I first became a Christian
I heard it preached, “Don’t ask God to bless your plans, find out His plans
and then they will already be blessed.” This sounded good. People applauded
this statement; however, in a practical way how were we to discover God’s
plan. Most were stumped. We were frozen. We became afraid to draw up any
plan for fear that the plan was not approved by God.
It was the passage in Proverbs
16 that liberated me. I realized that it was man’s right to plan, and it was
God’s prerogative to reply to our plans. If you want to hear from God, then
make a plan and God will reply to you about it.
I am a planner. I believe in it.
I have also discovered that some plans I made were not exactly God’s perfect
will, but that is okay, because I learned to hear God’s voice while pursuing
my plans. This is what James 4:13-15 means:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or
tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on
business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen
tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while
and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord's will, we
will live and do this or that.”
Please do not misunderstand
James. He is not advocating that we abandon “plan-making”. Rather He
advocates including hearing God’s reply to our plans. That is why you should
say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that.” Sure you plan to
do this or that, but you also realize that God can override your plan and
give you something better.
Twice I tried to purchase
property for our church before we landed some prime real-estate. The first
time I even had our congregation march around the property claiming it for
the Lord. After the ceremony, I got into my car and as I was driving the
Lord spoke, “I don’t want you to get that property.” What!? We had already
declared to our church that we were going to make an offer for the land. But
God had replied.
I told the owner of the property
that we changed our mind and we were not going to make an offer after all.
They thought I was trying to play hard so they offered a low price. I told
them I was not interested. So they countered and offered owner financing
with a low interest. I turned it down. I finally had to explain that I don’t
believe that this property was the best for our church.
The second time I agreed to
purchase five acres that were way outside the city limits, with the hope
that the city would move out where we were. However, the morning I was to
sign the papers, I did not feel comfortable. I drove to the city planning
department and asked the man in charge when he thought the city would move
out to where we were planning to build. He said it was going to be a very
long time like ten or twenty years. I could not wait that long. So I
cancelled the purchase.
My point in these stories is
that I made a plan but God replied each time and told me to keep looking.
Finally we found the present nine acres and purchased it for $110,000 which
was lower than the other properties and yet the value of this land far
exceeds them. We built our church on this land, and now our area is the
fastest growing section of our city.
You must have a plan if you
expect to succeed. A plan is a method of action to accomplish a definite
A plan is a blueprint. It is a
detailed explanation of how you are going to build a structure. A contractor
doesn’t take a group of men and say, “Let’s build. Do what you are led to
do.” No way! He gives each man a blueprint and specific instructions on what
to do. As long as they do what is on the blueprint, the structure will be
Imagine sitting in an airplane,
hearing the pilot’s voice, “Hello, this is Captain Lost. Our goal is to
arrive at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. I have not plot our
course, but I hope to arrive there anyway.” That is your cue to get off the
We plan our day when it comes to
the unimportant details of life, but when it comes to our dreams we neglect
to plan. If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.
There are three “D’s” for making
a plan that works:
Dedicate Your Plans
Proverbs 16:3 points out the
most important ingredient for successful planning:
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and
your plans will succeed.
This is God’s promise. Your plans
will—not might—but will succeed, if you commit your plans to God. You must
dedicate your plans to God.
You may ask, “How do I know if
I’m making plans according to God’s will or if I’m making plans according to
my own mind?”
Proverbs 16:3 in the Amplified
Bible answers that question:
Roll your works upon the Lord—commit and
trust them wholly to Him; [HE WILL CAUSE YOUR THOUGHTS TO BECOME AGREEABLE
TO HIS WILL, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed. (Emphasis
This translation says that God will bring
your thoughts into agreement with His will. In other words, you’ll have
inspired thoughts. An inspired thought is God thinking through your mind!
You’re dreaming with God!
First Corinthians 2:16 says, “We
have the mind of Christ.” An inspired thought is really the mind of Christ
being released through you. That’s wonderfully incredible!
The most important part of
making a plan is to dedicate your plan, your ideas, your thoughts to God.
Then get ready for divinely, inspired thoughts.
Decide to win
1 Corinthians 9:24 says,
Do you not know that in a race all the
runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the
We should run to win, not simply finish.
Some people have the win/lose philosophy: Sometimes we win, sometimes we
lose, sometimes the game gets rained out! No, we should live our lives to
But thanks be to God, who always leads us
in triumph... (2 Corinthians 2:14 KJV).
lead us to lose. He leads us into triumph, always!
God never made a failure!
Failure is man-made. We should have a winning attitude.
An Olympic runner doesn’t start
at the blocks and hopes, “I hope I place fifth.” Of course not. He goes for
the gold! You should too!
“But not everyone wins,” you may
Yes, but in our race we compete
with no one. God puts everyone one of us on our own track. This means that
everyone can win, as long as we all run the race marked out for us. Many get
off of their track and race in someone else’s course. Stick with your course
and you can win!
I told you about the property we
purchased. Well at first the owner did not want to sell us the land. They
wanted cash, but we did not have that kind of money. Through my agent I
offered to put down $30,000 if they would finance for seven years. They
shrugged the offer and replied that they might take half and finance the
rest. I could not see anyway to come up with $55,000.
I refused to take no. I told my
agent to give me the phone number of the owners. He reluctantly did and I
called them up. I pleaded with them to sell the land to the church. I told
them it was for God. I explained that we were going to quickly build through
a bond program and that they would get their money quickly, but for now they
would get only $30,000. They said they would think about it.
The next day my real estate
agent called me and said, “Pastor, I don’t know what you said, but it
worked. They will sell to the church.”
The next challenged was to raise
$30,000 the next Sunday morning. And by God’s grace we did. Just barely!
I shared this story to illustrate the need to have a winning attitude. Things do not always go your
way, but you cannot abandon your plans so quickly.
If you had a bad game don’t hand
in your uniform to the coach and say that you were not cut out to play. No!
Go back and learn from your mistakes and improve. Keep at it.
Discipline your life
Look at the next verse and
you’ll find that discipline in necessary to succeed:
Everyone who competes in the games goes
into strict training... (1 Corinthians 9:25)
To make your plans work you must be willing
to discipline your life. If you think sticking to your plans will be easy,
then you are deceived.
Make your plans long range, yet
with many short-range increments. For example, if you desire to lose thirty
pounds, then set a short-range goal of losing ten pounds in the first month;
then eight pounds for the next month; seven pounds for the third, and five
pounds for the final fourth month. This way you can be encouraged by your
progress every month and still reach your final goal.
Make your goals tough enough so
that it takes effort, but realistic enough so that you won’t be discouraged.
It would be foolish to plan to lose thirty pounds in two weeks. You probably
won’t make it, and as a result become discouraged. On the other hand, it
would not take much effort to plan to lose thirty pounds in three and a half
years. With no challenge, you’ll become a blimp real soon.
An Olympic athlete is willing to
work nearly every day for many hours, eat foods that are tasteless but
nutritious, and give their life to their sport, because they know it takes
arduous discipline to win.
Anything worthwhile does not
come cheap. Anything valuable will cost you much. Realize that!
Colonel Sanders, the founder of
Kentucky Fried Chicken, was willing to sacrifice to get his business
started, so he lived in his automobile in order to start his chicken
restaurant because he couldn’t afford a place to live and finance his
business at the same time. Not only was he willing to give up comfort, but
he started the fast-food restaurant after he retired. You’re not too old to
have a dream!
You must be willing to sacrifice
unimportant things in order to accomplish your goals.
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