A few weeks before New Year’s Day, I bought myself a Franklin/Covey day planner. At the end of 2007, I realized that I had not accomplished as much as I had wanted to, and I chalked up this failure to bad planning and time management. I determined that the same thing would not happen to me in 2008. My day planner helps keep me on track.
The Book of Proverbs teaches us quite a bit about planning, whether for your day or for your life. Consider these principles:
First, who you are and what you plan form a continuum:
The plans of the righteous are just,
but the advice of the wicked is deceitful (12:5).
So, before you ask, “What are my plans?” perhaps you should ask, “Who am I?” At the end of the day, God is more interested in good people than good plans, but by the same token, good people make good plans.
Second, different plans have different outcomes:
There is deceit in the hearts of those who plot evil,
but joy for those who promote peace (12:20).
Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness (14:22).
The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked,
but those of the pure are pleasing to him (15:26).
The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty (21:5).
Notice the wide range of outcomes here. Some of them are social (evil vs. peace). Some of them are personal (going astray vs. finding love and faithfulness). Some of them are spiritual (thoughts which are detestable to God vs. thoughts which are pleasing). And some of them are professional (profit vs. poverty). In light of these contradictory outcomes, plan well!
Third, good plans are built on sound advice:
…for waging war you need guidance,
and for victory many advisers (24:6).
For lack of guidance a nation falls,
but many advisers make victory sure (11:14).
Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed (15:22).
Make plans by seeking advice;
if you wage war, obtain guidance (20:18).
A few years ago, James Surowiecki published The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations. American culture, which is very individualistic, tends to think the lone genius is smarter than the crowd. Sometimes he is; usually he isn’t. If you want to make good plans, ask lots of good people for advice.
Fourth, good plans utilize good processes:
Finish your outdoor work
and get your fields ready;
after that, build your house (24:27).
Too often, young people want to be wealthy without doing the kind of hard work that produces wealth. The father of a childhood friend of mine built a company worth nearly a billion dollars by owning and operating thousands of fast-food franchises. He started at the front counter and worked his way up. That’s the way of wisdom.
Tomorrow, we’ll consider three more principles of good planning. They are the most important principles by far, for no plan can ultimately succeed without seeking and implementing God’s guidance.