Failing to Plan or Planning to Fail?

Written by Brandon Allen  

Executive Director  | Fortify Foundation  

 

We’ve all gone through various Bible studies before. Whether it’s studying a specific subject or perhaps a study on a book of the Bible, they all provide value and perspectives that we may not have had before. Still, to date, one of my all-time favorite studies from Scripture has been focused on the many characters of the Bible. It helped me so much to learn from the failures and successes of others. To have the ability to place myself in their shoes and explore how I might have responded and what might have been accomplished. 

Would I have been as bold as Daniel by leaving my window open when praying, knowing that it was now against the law? Would I have been any different than Peter in keeping my eyes on Jesus when walking on water? Would I have been a disciple that would have been willing to stand for Jesus when He went to the cross? All of these questions start to come to your mind as you walk through the lives of these men and women of the past. 

I will never forget my first exploration into the life of Joseph. It is truly remarkable to think of his continued faithfulness despite the difficult circumstances that he was placed in. Can you imagine being sold by your family into slavery? Finally, when things are starting to look up and he is making progress in being an overseer of Potiphar’s house, all of a sudden the master’s wife gets involved and makes things worse than they were before. He finally is able to experience some freedom but suddenly is bound and thrown into prison all because he was determined to do what was right regardless of the cost. 

The beautiful thing for us is that we have the benefit of looking at the entire story. We know the truth of Genesis 50:20 which reminds us that what man meant for evil against Joseph is something that God would ultimately use for their good! God would ultimately turn Joseph’s entire situation around. One of the first rags to riches stories! But this would only happen as a result of 2 things… Joseph’s continued faithfulness to God and his willingness to plan ahead.

One of the greatest early American minds once said, “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” (Benjamin Franklin). Of course, I would argue that the principle laid out for this wonderful quote was established well before Benjamin Franklin’s time. Jesus stated in Luke 14:28 that it was foolish to start a project without first “counting the cost.” Planning is such a crucial element to the success of any organization. If we want to make forward progress, we must continue to look ahead and cast a vision for our respective ministries. 

The truly successful organizations are the ones who think in the long term and expect their ministry to last well beyond their lifetime. I know due to the busyness of our schedules it is often difficult to think about next semester let alone think about future school years. We all have times where we feel our goal is just to make it to the end of the day. Guess what? That’s ok! We’ve all been there before. However, know that the seeds we plant today is what provides the trajectory for our future. 

Consider what took place when God used Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. As you read the passage in Genesis 41, we find out that God revealed what was to come but not necessarily what to specifically do. Joseph offered advice in how to get through the 7 years of famine by planning ahead! God was gracious enough to reveal what would happen in the next 14 years but it was up to them to change what they were doing now to get them through the future. 

This is often the battle that we struggle with. The mentality of, ‘Oh well, regardless of what the future holds, God will get us through.’ Does God promise to take care of our needs? Of course, He does! It’s in the very name of Jehovah-Jireh! But that most assuredly doesn’t alleviate our responsibility to work and plan ahead. 

Have you ever heard the story of the man who climbed to his rooftop with the flood waters rising around him and prayed that God would save him? First, a boat came by and offered for him to get in but he refused and said it’s ok because God would save him. Next, a helicopter came by and tried to pick him up but he refused because he said God would save him. Well, as the story goes, the man drowned and stood before God and asked God why He didn’t save him. God said He sent him both a boat and a helicopter! I know, I know…A silly story at best, but there is a powerful principle that we can draw from this.  God expects us to use the resources He’s entrusted to us for both our benefit now and in the future. 

Imagine the impact that the famine would have on Egypt and the surrounding areas if Joseph hadn’t prepared for what was to come. Joseph’s planning prior to the great dearth would save the lives of many in the future! Notice that this planning would also turn out to be a great investment that would cause even greater returns for Egypt! When the people were looking for food, Egypt would be their beacon of hope. A lighthouse of opportunity to keep their families alive. But Joseph didn’t just give the food away. He took his preparations and made a hefty profit by selling the food to both Egyptians as well as the surrounding nations alike (Genesis 41:55-57). Even when all of their money ran out, Joseph would have them barter their livestock for food (Genesis 47:15-17). If that wasn’t enough, as the famine continued, the people would eventually give up their land and become servants to Egypt working their own property on behalf of Pharaoh (vs. 19-26).

Why? All of this was a result of planning. It’s just like that old fable of the ant and the grasshopper. Winter came and only one was truly prepared. It may seem harsh but it does fall in line with 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that reminds us that those who do not work, should not eat. The wise individual not only plans for themselves but they also are able to pass on to the next generation (Proverbs 13:22).  Either we are the ones that plan ahead and have the ability to help others, OR we are the ones that will need to be helped.

I don’t think there is any of us that could have predicted what transpired in the year 2020. As we look back, many of us are thankful for that year in how God has turned around many Christian schools and blessed them with an upward trajectory in their enrollment. Amen! Let’s take full advantage of this opportunity to use the additional resources God has entrusted to us by planning ahead and seeking opportunities to invest in our future. 

Hopefully, by now you understand that God has brought you to the position you are in for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).  Regardless of what has transpired in the past, God has placed you there in the present and you are the one who is contributing to your ministry’s future. You are the one who has the ability to potentially change the course in the next generation’s outcome. Great leaders make great impact. The thing is, that impact shouldn’t end with us. It should go well beyond us!

That’s the same way we should feel about Christian education! We should want to make a lasting impact. Part of doing so is planning ahead and looking for ways to reinforce what we are currently doing. Wisely investing God’s assets to reinforce our future!