Planning is everything. Plans are nothing.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”
(Proverbs‬ 19:21)

We traveled back to South Carolina this week to join Palmetto Baptist Church in the celebration of 11 years of ministry. It was great to see God’s continued hand of blessing on PBC and the leadership of their new senior pastor, Sam Horn.  I spent the rest of the week teaching a block course on Church Leadership and Administration at
BJU Seminary. 

I was blessed to co-teach with my friend and former colleague, Dr. Ken Bixby.  Ken spent the last two decades studying what the Scripture says about leadership. He uses the
fruit of his labors to help Christian organizations realign their philosophy of leadership to Scripture. It was a tremendous blessing to spend the week reflecting on how God calls leaders to influence others.

During class, Ken quoted General Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Plans are nothing. Planning is
everything.” Eisenhower spoke these words at the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington D.C. on November 14, 1957. But instead of making a direct quote, Ken switched the phrases to emphasize the importance of planning first and the lack of control we have over the plans second. What a beautiful example of the tension found in Scripture between the free will of man and the sovereignty of God.

God desires us to “spend and be spent for the cause of Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:15), “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), “give all diligence to add to our faith” (2 Peter 1:5), and “fulfill the assignment we have received from the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:17). While at the same time, He wants us to “wait on the Lord for renewed strength” (Isaiah 40:31). He invites us to remember that He “works in us both to will and to do his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). He provides “divine power” (2 Peter 1:3). He provides the greatest example of leadership through Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endure the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

As I reflect on the transition we made from South Carolina to Minnesota, the suburbs to the city, Palmetto Baptist Church to Family Baptist Church, I was reminded how agonizing and liberating the decision-making process was for us. Peace and clarity came after we learned to embrace the tension between the free will of man and the sovereignty of God.  In an effort to help you wrestle through the decisions you are facing right now and how to plan for the future, I want to pass along seven principles God used to guide us through the sovereignty of God, free will of man tension. In the end, it helped us decide to return to Minneapolis. The seven principles are taken directly from “Experiencing God Workbook” by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King. I hope they help you as much as they helped us!

1. God is always at work around you.

2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.

3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.

5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that
requires faith and action.

6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.

7. You come to know God by experiences as you obey Him, and He accomplishes His work through you.

May God give you the grace to rest in the tension between human will and divine sovereignty (Philippians 2:12-14), the wisdom to know your life assignment (I Corinthians 7:17), and the courage to exercise faith and action when He makes His way known to you (Hebrews 11:6).

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