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?
God’s Promises for Spirit-led Planning
A few more things to help set the stage for Spirit-led strategic planning. God often announces His plans through covenants. Simply put, He determines and announces a long-term plan to benefit His people and promises to carry it through forever. Here are some examples:
- “To your descendants I give this land” Genesis 15:18
- “I will give… an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” Genesis 17:8
- “He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood.” Numbers 25:13
- “And I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” 2 Samuel 7:13
- “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts…I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:33;34
God did not, however make these strategic plans binding on us. He gives us free will and the right to opt-out if we don’t want the benefits. (At least the last of these covenants is unconditional, i.e. He will hold up His side regardless or our actions.) If we choose to opt-out, we lose the guarantee except by His mercy and grace. Many times throughout history, the Israelites “opted out” of their side – committing themselves to God and to His ways. The result was that they spent as much or more time outside the promised land than inside. Individual priests “opted out” and were cut down in the prime of their lives without ever seeing the promises come true.
A fair summary of this whole discussion on Spirit-led strategic planning is this: Obedience results in God’s plans for us; disobedience results in our plans for us. And we’ve already determined which are better.
So far, our focus has been on God doing the planning. How does that relate to a Kingdom company or organization making plans for a strategic transformation of an industry, a market, or a city? God’s plan, all along has been to give us the authority to make plans and the power to carry them out. In Genesis 1, “God blessed [Adam and Eve] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” Soon, man and woman abdicated their position as strategic co-planners with God. By willfully stepping out of His will for them, they chose to try to make their own way. The result? Well, you can see for yourself the shape the world is in.
God, however, had contingencies built into His eternal strategic plan. He sent His Son, Jesus who came, “to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10, NASB) He handed back to us the keys to the Kingdom we had relinquished. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”(Matthew 16:19)He set us up as His agents to co-labor with Him to reclaim the entire earth. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-19)
Ephesians 1:10 tells us that God has put His strategic plan back on track through us: “In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (NASB) Once again, we are in charge of all creation.
How are we to accomplish such a mammoth task? Most organizational strategic plans have a section listing resources and responsible parties. God’s plan has no less of an equipping strategy. That strategy was quoted in the two passages from John 14 and 16 at the beginning of this teaching. Jesus sets the task and the Holy Spirit equips us for it. He is the enabler. He is the person designated to prepare and monitor us in the planning and execution process.
“Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:7)
This last passage goes on to talk in depth about this “manifestation” of the Holy Spirit in terms of supernatural gifts, which working together with the gifts other believers have, creates the comprehensive approach to strategic planning that we describe below. To prepare for that, let’s look briefly at the person of the Holy Spirit and the area of spiritual gifts. Such a study is beyond the scope of this teaching – and even this website, but we would be irresponsible if we didn’t mention a few things here.
The Holy Spirit is a person – one of the three persons of the Trinity and as such is as alive and real as God the Father and God the Son. His work in creation, throughout the Old and New Testaments, and in our hearts today is readily discernible. The subject makes some people uncomfortable, though. We want to make sure you understand how important it is for you to acknowledge and accept the Holy Spirit into your life. The scriptures we introduced this chapter with make it clear how invaluable a relationship with Him is. If you are lacking teaching in this area, or if you have been taught that the Holy Spirit and His gifts were only meant for the times of the early church, please ask God to personally give you wisdom and knowledge in this area. Take out your Bible and do a word study on spirit and Holy Spirit and see what you find. Get a couple study guides from a Christian bookstore and work through it. Seek out other believers who are comfortable in this area and talk with them. We also have a free teaching available from Greater Works Ministries On-line Healing School. If you don’t want to register for the whole school, write us at email@example.com and request it.
Once you are convinced of the importance of the person and gifts of the Holy Spirit, begin the process of learning about the area(s) in which you have been gifted. We believe that you will find both personal and corporate areas of giftedness, i.e., you yourself operate in certain gifts and there is also a collection of gifts among your staff and intercessors, that when taken together provide a well-rounded ability to perform supernaturally in the natural world.
2 Timothy 1:6 has Paul reminding Timothy “to fan into flame the gift of God,” which suggests that we can learn and grow within our areas of giftedness. Let this be a regular, ongoing part of your preparation for Spirit-led strategic planning.
A Biblically practical approach to Strategic Planning
Strategic planning is a well-established discipline in the world, and most of it is not, inherently unbiblical. Traditional planning begins with identifying the mission and vision. These come out of the heart of the founder(s). The organization’s values, then, are then stated in support of that mission and vision. We teach a few things differently, though, that we believe change both the basis for planning, as well as the process. We refer to it as “Upside-down strategic planning.”
The Basis for Planning
In Spirit-led strategic planning, whose mission will we be serving? From where do we receive the vision of the future? To be truly Spirit-led, both of these must originate with a clear discerning of God’s mission and vision and our willingness to hear and obey His will. The reason we spent so much time and effort in the previous lesson on Personal and Corporate Purity is that in order to be sure our values are in the right place, we must first be sure we are uninfluenced by “the world, the flesh and the devil.” Our businesses, our organizations are to be born of God’s plan.
This means that any activity we are involved in – our great-grandfather’s appliance repair shop, the 75 year-old social service organization we are on the board of, or the city council we sit on – must seek God’s mission and vision in order to be a truly Spirit-led Kingdom business.
The Process of Planning
The Upside-Down Strategic Planning Model begins with a willingness to submit the business or organization completely to God, and an ongoing, intense listening process to hear what His will is. It begins not with mission and vision, but with values – His values. It is imperative that we really press into what His heart is for – you fill in the blanks – His product, His service, His employees, His customers, etc. Knowing, understanding and fully accepting His values may completely change the way you conduct your activities.
In Luke 19, we hear Jesus telling the parable about the ruler who goes off to get himself crowned as king of the territory. Before he leaves he gathers 10 of his servants and entrusts each of them with a sum of money, instructing them to “do business” with it until he returns. We all know the story: one multiplies the money ten-fold, another returns five-fold on the investment and one buries the money and returns only the principle. Of the three, only the first two knew and understood that the mission of the ruler was not to make money while he traveled, but rather to prepare his kingdom and equip his servants to effectively rule. Had the third servant understood and accepted that mission, he would have handled the assignment very differently.
Step One in Spirit-led Strategic planning must always be seeking God’s values leading to His vision and mission. Does that mean that what you think your mission is, is wrong? Maybe, but unlikely. God filled you with gifts and talents and passions that match His and His plans. It does mean, however, that you must be willing to have been wrong. You must be willing to allow a total reformation of mission and vision if that’s where He leads you.
Our corporation, About Purpose, Inc. can serve as an illustration. Since 1985, the mission (“my” mission) has been from Colossians 2:2-3 – “My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” How could I possibly go wrong? The mission is directly out of God’s Word!
What we learned as we entered into Spirit-led Strategic Planning, was that what we thought was the mission, was just one part of what God wanted us to embrace. As we immersed ourselves in understanding God’s values – His heart for the marketplace, the Seven Mountains of Culture, the priority He places on nations and not just individuals, and His unchanging desire to establish us as co-laborers in His creation - the mission that became clear to us was at once, both much bigger, and much narrower.
“Equip Kingdom companies and release them to transform the marketplace.”
His vision, which, clearly is not for us alone:
“An army of marketplace leaders, Scripturally aligned in organization, leadership and operations, bringing His light into their spheres of influence and reclaiming the nations for the Kingdom.”
Understanding your vision and mission from God’s viewpoint changes everything. No longer are you bound by your own thinking, worldview, personality, resources, etc. You have signed on to what Dennis Peacocke refers to as “Almighty and Sons.” You have a franchise in the family business owned by God, Himself. (Doing Business God’s Way, Rebuild, Santa Rosa, CA 1995). The franchisor, God, wants you to succeed in your franchise, because your success advances the visibility, the reach, and the power of the family business. As in a good franchise relationship, following the franchise policies and procedures, guarantees success. In Psalm 82:4 God says, “If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”
Everything that follows in your strategic planning is driven by and supports God’s Kingdom mission. You will likely find it necessary to realign your product or service offering with this mission. Leadership, marketing and sales, hiring, compensation, supply chain relationships, customer service may all have to be retooled to accomplish what God has in mind for your company or organization. At the very least, you will want confirmation that your current direction and organization are aligned with the Kingdom mission.
Habakkuk 2 begins with a model for this portion of the strategic planning process. “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what [God] will say to me.” What does it mean to “see what God will say to me?” God wants us to see a clear vision of His Kingdom mission. The next verse refers to His revelation. Numerous places in Scripture assure us that God longs to share His plans with us. “The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” (Psalm 25:14) The process of purifying yourself and your company puts you into the place of sharing God’s confidences.
Your intercessory team is a crucial tool in this process. While you are responsible for discerning God’s mission and vision, the plan itself and its execution, your intercessors have three major interaction points in Spirit-led strategic planning.
- As you go to God to hear His heart for the company, ask your intercessors to go into an intense session of prayer to hear words of knowledge or wisdom or prophesy. You may want to call for and participate in a fast to allow God clear, undistracted access to your hearts and minds. Ask Him to lead you to Scriptures that will guide your thoughts. After a time of listening and feedback from your intercessors, you are ready to meditate on His values and craft a vision/mission from what you hear.
- During a strategic planning event or sessions with your management team, ask your intercessors to cover you in prayer. Ask them to erect a wall of protection around you and the event. Call for prayer for unity, love, humility and a sound mind among all the participants in the planning process. Ask them to pray for wisdom and guidance, for “logos” words (Scripture) and “rhema” words (Holy Spirit direction) throughout all planning meetings and related tasks.
- Once the plan is finished, your intercessors will begin praying for strength and boldness, for perseverance and wisdom in carrying out the plan. They will pray for the resources necessary for every part of the plan.
Spirit-led planning literally takes on a life of its own when you submit yourself to hearing and obeying God’s heart for your organization. Allow Him to speak to you through your intercessory resources.
Beyond the Mission and Vision
Of course, a strategic plan is not complete with just its vision and mission. They exist to give direction to the action we are to take. The corporate model of strategic planning moves into a SWOT analysis (assessing Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), followed by the creation of goals, strategies and plans. Spirit-led planning, too, contains all of those elements – though the process and application are different than in the corporate model.
Now that we know God’s mission and vision, born out of His values, the next step is to “survey the land,” a process very unlike the SWOT analysis. In Numbers 13:2 the Lord commands Moses, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.” Notice the mission is already established, based on God’s values – His feelings for the Israelites and His determination to rescue them and favor them as His people in a land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 3:7-10) How Moses responds exposes the shortcomings of man’s planning and sets a Spirit-led model for this part of the planning process.
Why was God sending out a reconnaissance team? Surely He knew what and who was in the land. He already told Moses it was a rich land. He had already repeated three times that He was giving the land to the Israelites. God simply told Moses to explore. He wanted to show them the gift He was giving them, that they would see His vision. Moses, however, embellished on God’s instructions. In Numbers 13:17-20, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” Rather than acting on faith in God, Moses was instilling doubt about the gift. He was focusing on the threats therein. He was testing God’s own words. He departed from Spirit-led planning by trying to identify what he and his team would have to do, rather than on what God had already done.
God’s model for planning does not include a SWOT analysis, but rather an OFF analysis – Opportunities for Faith. Let’s look at the differences. The SWOT analysis draws our attention to our own strengths as a way to mitigate or overcome our weaknesses. In a like manner, it identifies the opportunities in the situation for gain and assesses the threats to our being able to take advantage of those opportunities. There’s nothing really wrong with that approach – it’s just not God’s best for us. Isaiah 55:8 says, “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’ declares the Lord.”
(Note: Doesn’t this contradict the “count the cost” process described in Luke 14:28-30, and with which you all started this Market 70 journey? No. Before you make a commitment to the Lord is the time to count the cost. Once we have made the commitment, we are to be all in, trusting completely in the Lord.)
OFF analysis looks something like this. Focusing on God’s vision for the future, we identify all those things God would want us “walking into,” those situations and people He sees us in the midst of. We accept God’s vision for our organization and seek His promises in the Word that allow us to have faith for that vision. We pray into those situations by owning and declaring those promises. In this way, we create a list of opportunities for faith around which we will set goals, strategies and action plans. Another example might be helpful.
When Linda and I caught God’s vision for Market 70, we saw that He had us working with multi-million dollar companies and organizations; He had us working internationally; He had the Market 70 materials being used by companies all over the world. Uh, excuse me, reality check! We didn’t know one person who had more than a $10 million dollar company. We had no international contacts in business. And the Market 70 materials didn’t exist! These were all Opportunities For Faith. We began “walking into” His vision by praying. As we did so, He brought to our minds Scriptures that promised He would deliver nations to us. Our intercessors received word that we would be ministering internationally. People we didn’t even know told us that in prayer, they saw us dealing with governments. God’s Word assured us He would “establish the work of our hands.” We were reminded that He would share His counsel with us and reveal things we could not know. As we believed Him for His provision and for His direct guidance into His vision, we immediately began to see things happen.
Are you beginning to see the value of OFF over SWOT? Focusing on God’s opportunities for faith bring us directly into action steps that are undergirded by divine will and promise. It keeps our attention on the outcome – the vision – rather than on the impediments, weaknesses, barriers, etc. Oh, they are still there, to be sure. And we are still aware of them. But they enter our planning process as a “done deal” rather than as something in our path. SWOT analysis is linear, temporal and concrete. OFF is non-linear, dynamic, eternal (in that it is not time bound) and abstract.
SWOT places management and employees in a position of working toward an uncertain end because of the focus on overcoming the present obstacles. Though we may do our best to motivate ourselves and direct our strengths, gifts and talents to removing or overcoming them, our current existence is still defined by them. We are still “here.” OFF has the advantage of creating a future reality now, in the present. Management and employees own and embrace and begin living the future reality today, in spite of obstacles.
Does that sound all metaphysical and theoretical? Which scenario would you prefer? Do you want employees who truly believe and act like they are totally empowered to deliver excellent customer service in spite of the numerous logistical obstacles your company faces in doing so? Or do you want employees who always hesitate, waffle and make excuses with customers because they are still “working out the kinks?” In the former situation, your staff are already living in the vision of excellent, uninhibited customer service. Yes, it leaves management in the position of scrambling behind the scenes to keep up with customer needs, but the customers themselves feel as if they are in competent, caring hands.
You will understand more on this when you work through the Practical Application.
Goals, Strategies and Action Plans
“Finally,” you are probably saying. “We get to something we’re familiar with.” Well, yes and no. This portion of Spirit-led Strategic Planning parallels the corporate model closer than all the other pieces so far. The only differences you will see are in application, rather than in the substance. As you get into the Practical Application, you will see subtle, but important differences. The steps, while linear, are still very much faith-based. At this point in the process, you heart has become one with God’s heart. You have committed yourself totally to His vision.
You will now begin to see these well-known Scriptures come alive: “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3) “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (Psalms 37:4-6) In other words, as your heart and God’s heart align, then your plans will be aligned to His vision. There are many different roads to accomplishing God’s mission. He gifted you and your management team and your employees specifically so that they would operate as His “body,” each doing a vital part. In addition, He has many different “bodies” living out His vision and mission throughout the world. Each is in a unique position to reach specific niche markets and so will approach them with different goals, strategies and action plans.
Prayerfully approached, the goals, strategies and action plans will be very unique to your organization and its specific mix of talents, personalities and passions. They will, however, be anchored in God’s values, vision and mission. As you go through this process, you will be guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit. In each step He will remind you of everything Jesus taught you. Spirit-led Strategic Planning is the only way for a Kingdom company or organization to become powerful, transformation forces in the marketplace.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Spirit-Led Strategic Planning
Prepare and Plan for Strategic Planning event
- Ask your intercessors to begin praying for you and your team as you “plan to plan.” Pray for wisdom, revelation, guidance, practical provision, and protection for all participants. Once you have determined a site, ask them to pray a blessing over it, cleansing it from any previous unrighteous uses it may have had. Claim it for Kingdom purposes.
- Determine if the event is to include the Values/Vision/Mission process or not. For privately held, smaller businesses, it may be preferable for the owner to go through that part of the process separately and before pulling a planning team together. Likewise, for companies in which a great deal of the staff are not believers, this part of the process is very difficult to understand, and almost impossible to include them in any substantive manner. For larger companies, or for non-profit organizations, a larger circle of participants in this part may be essential. In that case, determine whether to include only upper management and board members, or also key staff. (Look ahead to the next section to help you determine who you might like or need to be involved).
- Having identified the participants, be sure that as the planning process starts, you help them all understand Spirit-led Strategic Planning, how it’s different, why you are going to use it, how non-believers can still be strong contributors, etc. It is vital that your intercessory team participate – if not on-site, at least simultaneous to the event.
- Plan for a time when you, your management team and your intercessory team can all spend a block of time together. The larger your organization, the more time you must set aside. For most, it is better to set a time to be off site for a half day or longer. Perhaps it would work for you to schedule several evenings, or Saturdays. The point is to create a space in your calendar that is set aside for you to be able to hear clearly from God.
- Whether on or off site, determine space and resources needed, creature comforts, whether meals or snacks are provided and how, materials and teaching aids required, etc.
- Consider using a group facilitator. It is very difficult to be both an active participant and be responsible for moving the schedule along, aligning and timing the activities, monitoring participation, taking notes, managing the input of the intercessors and maximizing group dynamics.
Identifying Values, Vision, Mission
You have to decide how to go about this first step, and, as we mentioned above, whom to include. There are several ways to identify God’s values, leading to understanding His vision and mission for your organization. We describe three, below, which are best used in tandem with each other, but any one of which can be used independently. There are probably other ways as well, but the key is that you have committed yourself to hearing God’s values, His heart for you and your business. If you begin with a submitted, reverent spirit, He will share His secret counsel with you. (Psalm 25:14, NAS)
Before you start, is this step just for you, personally? Once you go through it, can you present God’s values, vision and mission to the rest of your management and employees?
Is it just for a few key people to go through – those who will hear and safeguard God’s vision, interpreting it to a broader audience that may include both believers and non-believers?
Is this step for a group? If you have a unified, biblically savvy group, who understand moving in the Spirit, this can be a powerful and moving group event.
- The Historical Method
- Ask God to show you how you got to where you are now. Highlight the events in your life, and later, in your business, that have formed you. Where do you see His hand? What has He been trying to teach you? Were there points at which He seemed to open or close doors that you didn’t expect? Who are the significant people that He brought into your path and what effect did they have on you? Were there times in your life when you felt his rebuke at a course of action you were taking or failing to take?
- Now, summarize what He has been building into you. Put into words the things He has been showing you are important to Him in your life and development. These are His values.
- Gifts and Passions
- Do you know what your God-given gifts are? Identify your natural gifts - those He gave to you through your personality, character, upbringing, schooling, experiences, etc. What are those things you have a passion for, those things that drive you and those things that bring you to tears? Now, identify your supernatural gifts – those given you by the Holy Spirit for specific times, places or ministries, for the building up of the body of Christ. (If you don’t know your gifts – either your natural or your supernatural – it might be wise for you to pause in the process and learn about this area. Take a gift inventory – one that measures both the natural and supernatural. Ask your spiritual advisor, pastor, or intercessors to help you in this step.)
- Many teach that where you see an intersection between your natural gifts and your passion, you are looking at what is important to God – His values. If you also see the operation of supernatural gifts in that calling, you can be sure you have identified His vision for
- God speaks to us in many different ways. The two above are through circumstances. Revelation includes His speaking to us in His Word, through other people, through dreams, visions, and inner impressions, through words of knowledge or wisdom or prophesy. Has God spoken to you in any of these ways? Write them down, or if you have already, go back and look and pray over them to see if there are trends or repetition.
- Ask God to speak to you now – fresh and new for today. Ask your intercessors to query the Lord on your behalf as well, and to ready your heart to hear His heart. Expect to hear Him. James 1:5-8 tells us that when we ask for wisdom (a word from God) we must believe that we have received it. Listen. Write down what you hear – even if it doesn’t appear to be from God. You can sort it all out later. Trust that He has answered your request for a fresh word. He may lead you to a Scripture passage. He may remind you of a sermon or a song. He may give you a dream. But know this: He will reveal Himself to you.
- God speaks to us in many different ways. The two above are through circumstances. Revelation includes His speaking to us in His Word, through other people, through dreams, visions, and inner impressions, through words of knowledge or wisdom or prophesy. Has God spoken to you in any of these ways? Write them down, or if you have already, go back and look and pray over them to see if there are trends or repetition.
Putting it into practice
Next, let’s look at a few practical illustrations of values, vision and mission. While it’s not terribly important what words you use, it is important that you grasp the concepts.
Values will be stated in terms of beliefs or importance or passion. They will often be identified in yourself, but are easily seen in the character and actions of God throughout Scripture and in your life experiences. Examples might be a love for children, outrage at injustice, longing for intimacy, a strong faith in healing or deliverance, a desire to disciple or train others, a passion to see problems solved and distractions removed, etc. For example,"God is disappointed when He sees kids wasting their young lives; when He sees parents unable to pass on any sense of relevancy to their kids. He's saddened by parents who can't relate to their children; who don't know how to communicate with them and are afraid to try because of their own inadequacies." (Can you see all of these values in Scripture? Search deeply all that God says not only about parents and children as a topic, but what He says about HIS children, their identity and how He wants them to relate to Him).
Vision will likely depict a future that is changed by those values. Notice it is written in the present tense. God sees things that are not as though they are. Stating the vision in the present tense helps you, your employees, and all your constituents to think of it as a reality rather than a dream. Continuing with our example, “I see kids and parents in meaningful conversations with each other throughout the day. I hear parents who have the skills, knowledge and tools to interact with their kids in a way the kids can respect and look forward to. I see communication barriers created by the time demands on both kids and their parents broken down and made irrelevant.”
An example from God’s Word: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem…The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.” (Revelation 21:1-2;24-26)
Keep listening for God's Values and Vision until you begin to hear His bigger picture. He will put an awareness in you of the end results. You will hear His desire "to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free" (Luke 4:18). You will hear His heart that others "may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). You will hear His call to "religion...as pure and faultless [being] to look after orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27). You will hear the call "to seek and save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10). Do not be content until you hear God's plans and purposes for your community, your industry, your nation, because it is for this you and your business or organization are called.
You will know that it is not God's vision and values until you hear such things included. Why? Because it is the mission of Christ to "save the world" (John 12:47). Anything less, while praise-worthy and may be full of good works, is not transformation. It is not systems-changing as we see in Isaiah 61.
Mission will flow naturally out of the vision. Using the family communication vision, above, a mission might become: “Our company provides phone apps and software solutions that connect families in meaningful and timely communication. We create interactive opportunities for sharing values and building mutual accountability into family relationships.”
An example that marries God's vision and a corporate mission: “Guided and braced by the hand of God, our purpose as a group is both simple and enormously complex: To improve the quality of life in Africa through infrastructure development.” (Power Group, South Africa)
OFF, Opportunities for Faith, will sound like mini-vision statements and will lead naturally toward setting goals. In our family example, there might be several OFFs that sound like this:
- We have top-notch app developers for the major platforms
- Our software offerings are accepted and promoted by key education and church organizations
- We have a training program that is fun, productive for communication, and effective in selling
Goals become easy to develop from the OFFs. Goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely (SMART). You will likely have 1-2 goals for each OFF. They will sound something like this: (under OFF-1)
- Contract with 2 developers by August 1, covering i-Phone and Android platforms.
Strategies are simply statements of how you will approach your goals. There is usually only one strategy for each goal. They are the bridge between goals and action plans and will sound something like this:
- Network with known developers and get to know their different styles, and decide on hiring.
Action Plans, then are very specific steps for achieving the goals. They will include actions, persons responsible, resources, timelines, and, where relevant, milestones or accountability methods. There may be many action plans under each strategy.
- Marie to attend regional app developers conference, May 4-6
- Set aside $750 for entrance fees, hotel and lunches
- Arrange to have Tim cover the weekly staff meeting
- At conference, view and take notes on sample apps for the two platform
- Vet potential developers for attitude and match to our values
Now you have everything you need to launch your strategic planning event and work through the process. Use your own format or download the simple template we have developed.