Biblical basis and model for planning
There are numerous examples and models of planning in the Bible, but the book of Genesis has the advantage of hosting two models which encompass the very best of planning, and the very worst. By studying these two examples, we learn a lot about God’s model for planning, what is successful and sustainable, and the kind of planning that overcomes even poor execution.
Holy Spirit Planning
The first planning model is the best of planning and is contained in the account of creation. Genesis 1 – the very first book, the very first verse announces the creation. Even by the most conservative estimates, this occurred at the very least over 6000 years ago. Some scholars place it much further into the past, but the important point is that creation has been successfully sustaining itself for countless generations. It has survived wars, natural disasters, and both the well-meaning and evil-intentioned actions of mankind. What is the key ingredient to planning that provided a framework so effective, efficient and flexible that it has endured to this very day? The answer lies in Genesis 1:2, “…and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
The Holy Spirit co-created with God. He hovered over the process. That word for hovers is used in Deuteronomy 32:11 to describe the way an eagle protects his nest and prepares his chicks for flight. It is an active verb and it is clear that the Holy Spirit was active in creation. While this may seem a small point, it gains significance when we look at the role of the Holy Spirit throughout Scripture. Jesus describes His role best in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” A little further on, Jesus says, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”(John 16: 13-15).
So, Holy-Spirit led planning has clear benefits:
- It is planning in the name of God.
- It is a process in which we are taught all things and we are guided into all truth.
- In Spirit-led planning, we are reminded of all of Jesus’ teaching.
- We can be sure it is the very will of God because the Spirit will speak only what he hears from God.
- Spirit-led planning takes into account what is yet to come. Who can possibly know the future?
- This planning glorifies Jesus because the Holy Spirit makes known to us what He receives from Jesus.
- It glorifies the Father because all that Jesus gives to the Spirit is from the Father.
The planning model presented in Genesis and espoused by Jesus in the New Testament is perfect. The plan follows exactly the will of God, applying all truth and knowledge even to future events that we cannot otherwise know. Why would we want to use any other model? Well, just to reinforce that thought, let’s look at the other model in Genesis – the one that describes the very worst of planning.
The account is in Genesis 11 – but there is a backdrop for the action contained in Genesis 9:2. After God saved a remnant of the people of the earth through Noah and his family, he blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” He repeats his command in 9:7, “As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
Now, onto Genesis 11:1-9.
“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’
So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Wait, this sounds like a model of good planning, commended by God Himself, saying that if they can do this, their planning can accomplish anything. But God was clearly not pleased with their accomplishment or with their planning. The key verse here is 11:4 which says, “Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’”
Babel planning, then has these major drawbacks:
- It is conceived in selfish reasons. (“…let us build ourselves a city.”)
- It attempts to set mankind up as equal in the heavens to God Himself. (“…tower that reaches to the heavens.”)
- Its goal is to remove mankind’s dependence on God. (“…that we may make a name for ourselves.”)
- The desired result is to rebel against God’s express command. (“…otherwise we will be scattered over the whole earth.”)
So, time for a decision:
Planning using the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God, or my own mind?
Planning with an eternal, global strategy, or my own narrow agenda?
Planning in cooperation with the ultimate winner, or in rebellion with a defeated few?
Which one do you choose?
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