Seven Principles of Good Planning, Part 2

Yesterday, we examined the first four of Proverbs’ principles of good planning:
  1. Who you are and what you plan form a continuum.
  2. Different plans have different outcomes.
  3. Good plans are built on sound advice.
  4. Good plans utilize processes.
Today, I’d like to look at three other principles:
  1. The best plans take into account God’s moral law.
Proverbs 29:18 contrast godless plans with godly plans:
Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
but blessed is he who keeps the law.
God’s moral law, which is revealed in nature but most clearly in Scripture, is a moral compass for our plans. Without God’s moral law, we are tempted to pursue selfish ends. And selfishness leads to all kinds of mischief, both great and small. Apart from the revelation of God’s moral law, this proverb tells us, we cast off the restraints of love, duty, and conscience. By strong contrast, when we begin our plans with God’s moral law at the center of our attention and will, we experience the happiness that flows from obedience.
  1. The best plans seek that God’s will be done.
It is one thing to take God’s moral law into account at the theoretical level of planning. It is another thing entirely to actually let God determine the outcomes at the practical level of planning. Several proverbs teach us the role that God should have when we put our plans into action.
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 (16:1-3).
In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps (16:9).
The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord (16:33).
Many are the plans in a man’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails (19:21).
A man’s steps are directed by the Lord.
How then can anyone understand his own way? (20:24)
Proverbs 16:33 is an especially instructive example. In Acts 1:12-26, the Apostles determined that they needed to replace Judas Iscariot, who had betrayed Jesus. So, after lengthy prayer, they came up with a rational set of criteria for who was qualified to be an apostle. When these rational criteria produced two equally qualified candidates, the apostles again prayed, and then they cost lots. Sometimes, after we have prayed and planned, we are stuck between equally good choices. At such a time, it is legitimate to flip a coin and let God determine the outcome.
  1. Humility is the proper mindset for the godly planner.
There are several reasons to be humble. First, we should be humbly obedient to God’s moral law, which outlines restraints on our behavior. Second, we should be humble enough to seek God’s leading where more specific guidance is required. But third, we should be humble simply because of the limitations on our power and knowledge.
Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth (27:1).
Creaturely boasting is always uncalled for. We aren’t powerful enough and don’t know enough to pretend that our plans control the future. Only God has that power and knowledge. Only he determines what the day brings. So, above all, be humble!

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