Do You Have “Planning Paralysis?”

If you believe in God’s sovereignty, you may feel a tension when it comes to strategic planning.

Common sense tells you that you should set goals and make plans. The adage “Aim at nothing and you’ll hit it every time” certainly seems to match our experience in life. Nothing of lasting significance happens without purposeful planning.

On the other hand, we remember that God already knows everything that will happen. He is “working all things after the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11). We also know that God already has plans for us (Jer. 29:11). Nothing, absolutely nothing in God’s earth, happens without His wise and loving approval. What possible role could our puny plans serve in the bigger picture of God’s providential oversight of His world?

Proverbs 16 provides at least a partial answer to that question. Not only do these wise sayings assume human planning as a normal part of life in God’s world, they actually indicate that God is already at work through our planning.

  • “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD” (v. 1).
  • “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (v. 3).
  • “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (v. 9).

Followers of King Jesus make plans as an expression of trust and dependence on Him. We set goals in obedience to our Lord’s great commission to take the Gospel to every creature. Just like our prayers, our plans make a real difference. Plans are one of the ways we experience God’s faithful guidance in our lives.

Believing in God’s sovereignty does not remove from us the responsibility of prayer-bathed planning. Rather it comforts us that our wise and powerful God is already at work through the humble plans of His people (Jas. 4:15).

Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

About Sam Harbin
I am the President of Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA as well as the Chair and Professor of Pastoral Theology.

One Response to Do You Have “Planning Paralysis?”

  1. Jim E says:

    Proverbs 16:3…is a verse that has meant so much to me over the years…and you’re right, verses 1 and 9…WOW, great verses…it shows that “planning” is not the confusing part for us…it’s the outcome we sometimes get confused about…but these verses give us the answer…in 1975 (I have it written in the front of my Bible, I am getting old)…anyway I just got word that the job I applied and interviewed for…I didn’t get…upset and maybe wondering, I went to church that night and though no one knew what happened…the pastor said among other remarks that night, “When circumstances occur to us that we don’t understand, we must realize that God is in our lives working out His purposes.”…exactly what you are saying above…God knew what was best for me…

    The results, I didn’t like…but when I heard again that God was “just” working out his purposes for me…it took away the sting…and I went away singing…isn’t our Lord wonderful!!!…

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