If you fail to plan, you fail…
Both Benjamin Franklin and Sir Winston Churchill have been credited with the oft repeated proverb, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.”1 Approximately 2000 years ago, Jesus spoke of the wisdom of thinking clearly about the future. He said no one would attempt to build a tower without a solid estimate of the cost and no king would go to war without a plan. He followed those analogies by challenging those who were following him, to be aware of the cost that would come if they remained with Him.2
Preachers Do Not Wait Until Saturday
As a young boy, I was fascinated with preachers who were able to effectively deliver the message on Sunday. I learned early on the difference between someone who had worked diligently upon their sermon, and someone who had done little to no planning. Soon after entering Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University), the challenge was delivered to work hard upon the message and not to wait until Saturday evening for “God’s inspiration” to deliver you.
Through the years, I have learned from many that a plan is required to faithfully handle God’s Word. Dr. Gary Weedman, now President of Johnson, taught expository preaching in undergraduate years. In years to come, Haddon Robinson helped codify the steps in preparing a message that would expose God’s teaching in the Word.3 John R. W. Stott urged standing faithfully between the world of God’s word and the hurting world of the day!4 Stephen Olford led by example to carefully consider the words chosen and used in a message.5 Steve Brown demonstrated how to faithfully declare God’s hope in a way that enticed people to listen.6 Daniel Overdorf challenges preachers today to draw people into the Word through application.7 All these require a plan to be worked!
Where ARE you going with this????
For the most part, readers of this blog are people whose lives are invested in ministry, missions, or faith based nonprofit work…their career work is serving others in the name of Christ. Virtually all will understand their work requires systematic planning and effort, similar to sermon preparation. If we had the privilege of examining their calendars, we would likely find them filled with interaction with people, discovering needs and developing answers. We would not go long before finding time set aside for introspection, and a workshop/seminar about how to better discharge their assigned duties.
However, if the real world teaches us anything, it is these same ordered actions disappear when it is time to handle family finances! The best financial plan for many in ministry seems to be having no plan at all. Countless times I have heard the refrain, “It is hopeless to try to have a plan, so I just do whatever I think needs to be done at the moment.” Some spiritualize their lack of planning, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”8 Still others claim, “Jesus did not mention retirement…”
This decision to live without attention to our financial future has not served well. More than 70% of those in ministry admit to financial pressure in their lives. Ninety-two percent have so little retirement savings that it causes deep personal concern. Two of ten local church pastors have no options to cover an expense of $10,000 (not even the ability to borrow the money). More than 75% say they personally know people who have abandoned ministry service due to financial pressure.9
When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!
The first step in any recovery, and this is a recovery situation, is admitting there is a problem. If you have been moving through life with no financial budget and no financial goal, stop doing that TODAY. Jesus did talk about money. Proverbs warned about the problem of being in debt.10
We all have differing gifts. Not everyone is gifted financially. Still, we cannot use this excuse as a reason for no financial planning. There are ample resources available. Seek out someone who IS successful, and ask them to help you map out a different direction. Being too proud to seek help may be the most costly decision anyone will ever make. Since you cannot make this change yesterday, today is the BEST day!
1 goodreads.com. azquotes.com.
2 Luke 14:28 – 33. New International Version.
3 Robinson, Haddon. Biblical Preaching: The Development and Delivery of Expository Messages. Baker. 1980.
4 Stott, John R.W. Between To Worlds: The Art of Preaching in the Twentieth Century. Eerdmans. 1982.
5 Stephen Olford Center For Biblical Preaching. Advanced Expository Preaching Institute. 1995.
6 Brown, Steve. How to Talk so People Will Listen. Baker. 1993
7 Overdorf, Daniel. Applying the Sermon: How to Balance Biblical Integrity and Cultural Relevance. Kregel. 2009.
8 Matthew 6:26. New International Version.
9 Grey Matter Research & Consulting. Evangelical Pastor Study. National Association of Evangelicals. July 2015.
10 Proverbs 22:7. New International Version