As Christians, should we pursue planning and goal setting?
Surprisingly, in some circles of faith I have been discouraged from doing so—to relax as I see God planning my life and directing each moment. I was led to verses such as:
Matthew 6:34 (ESV) “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
James 4:13, 14 (ESV) “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
Through these passages, it was reasoned that there was no point in creating a meaningful life plan or SMART goals. But there’s far more to consider.
God has a Plan
Interpreting certain Scriptures to mean “don’t plan for tomorrow” contradicts the nature of God and the words of Jesus. Through the full context of the Bible, we see that the entire journey of following Jesus and finding His success involves long-term planning.
Throughout the Bible, God reveals Himself as a planner. He is a God of order, One who prepares and plans for what’s coming next. We are wise to do likewise, so planning and goal setting are key.
As we follow Jesus, our aim is to become increasingly like Him. We are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27) and given the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). God has a plan for us; we should have plans for ourselves as well. Our plans are best when aligned with His. Then they can most effectively help us accomplish His divine purpose for our lives.
The Bible is alive and active, able to breathe life into our weary bones and align our hearts and minds to God’s will—all by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only by seeking and relying on the Holy Spirit can we begin to grasp all that God’s Word reveals to us. It takes a lifetime of study and meditation.
That’s why we must always remain mindful of the context of His Word and its overarching revelation of Who God is.
What Does God Say About Success?
By scouring the Bible to discover God’s heart about planning, success, and even health and wealth, we find wisdom and encouragement that is often overlooked.
The Power to Gain Wealth
Deuteronomy 8:18 conveys that God gives us the power to gain wealth. It does not say God gives us wealth, rather He provides all we need to attain it. Looking deeper, the original Hebrew term for wealth implies far more than monetary gain. It encompasses valor, strength, virtue and might—all of which are worthy of an effective life plan.
The Path to Prosperity
Joshua 1:8 teaches that when we follow God’s ways, we will make our way prosperous. Again, God is not promising prosperity but providing all we need to make our own way prosperous. He gives us the means, but the doing is up to us. We can become prosperous in our relationships, finances, generosity, wellness, and so much more.
We have a responsibility to obey God’s ways and do as He calls us to do. Rather than sitting idly by and waiting for Him to move on our behalf, He tasks us with moving to action and helping others in His name. Planning and goal setting are monumental first steps in following Him.
What Does the Bible Say About Planning for the Future?
Throughout the Word of God, we see His encouragement to plan for the future and not be caught unawares.
Proverbs 14:15-16 (NASB) “The naïve believes everything, But the sensible person considers his steps. A wise person is cautious and turns away from evil, But a fool is arrogant and careless.”
Matthew 10:16 (CSB) “Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves.”
Luke 14:28 (CSB) “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”
1 Corinthians 14:40 (ESV) “But all things should be done decently and in order.”
The Proverbs 31 woman is a careful planner, thinking ahead and considering potential consequences and her family’s well-being before acting.
Ultimately, as God is planning our life we should be making plans to do as He leads.
How to incorporate Faith into Daily Planning and Goal Setting
When planning, it’s wise to aim for more than financial prosperity and business success. We can also plan for Kingdom living here on earth, for strong, healthy relationships and for peace and joy. By keeping God’s ways in the forefront of the planning process, Christians can more effectively serve as His ambassadors and maintain an eternal focus—even while working toward earthly success.
There’s a bit to reconcile as we balance surrender to Him while embracing our own responsibility. To effectively plan with this balance in mind, we can follow these simple steps:
Get Quiet Before God Before Planning and Goal Setting
Psalm 46:10 (ESV) says “Be still and know that I am God.” When we sit at His feet, God calms our fears and aligns our heart with His own. Every good, God-honoring plan should begin with prayer and time in His presence.
Seek God’s Will
Actively seeking God’s will ensures our plans don’t stem from a place of fear, anxiety or worry. We’re to rest in His provision and seek His ways above our own. Matthew 6:33 (CSB) declares, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you”.
Follow God-Given Dreams
One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4 (CSB) which says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.” Many believe the verse implies God will give us everything we desire. Instead, it reveals that He plants desires in the hearts of His followers. Our hopes and dreams are inspired—and ordained—by the loving God of the universe. We can confidently write these dreams in concrete. They are a gift from God that we are to nourish, protect, and pursue.
Get to Work With Your Plans and Goals
As you step into service toward God’s will, first plan with care then put that plan in motion. By following His ways, we will see His unquestionable partnership in the work we do in His name. The psalmist cries out in Psalm 90:17 (ESV), “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”
Respond to God’s Lead
It’s said that as we write our dreams in concrete, we’re to write our plans in the sand. In other words, we’re not to become slaves to our plans but to leave room for God to move and direct or path. God has a plan. Knowing He’s always at work helps us (as Matthew 7:7-8 teach us) to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking to continuously seek His direction and lead.
Remember to Plan Rest
Every plan must include time to rest, refuel, and rejuvenate. We’re to practice self-care as we serve the Lord with diligence. Mark 6:31 shares Jesus’ specific encouragement to His disciples to find rest. We must be filled with Christ to pour out to others in His name. Just like meaningful work, intentional rest requires careful preparation and planning.
Should Christians pursue planning and goal setting? The Scriptures and the heart of God are clear. Yes, we’re to make careful plans and diligently work toward God-inspired outcomes. By all means—plan, prepare, set SMART goals. Follow a proven process to help you create a meaningful life plan and adopt a daily routine to make it happen. Then enjoy the manifold blessings that God pours into your life.
As followers of Christ, it’s our aim to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when we enter Heaven. To live a life worthy of His acclaim doesn’t come by aimlessly drifting. It requires intentionality and execution of a meaningful plan.
I invite you to discover how to create a meaningful life plan in my half-day workshop called Hero on a Mission. I’ll walk you through three important steps and provide the tools and resources you need. Come select a date that works on your calendar and let’s get started!