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Letter to the Religion Editor

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letterDear  Religion Editor,
I am a very creative person, but I’m not very spontaneous! I usually work better from a well drawn out plan. The Bible teaching about making plans is firmly entrenched in the Word of God. Consider God, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). That sounds like a plan. Don’t you think? Let’s try it again, “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea…’” (Genesis 1:27). That verse sounds like God delegated some work to you and me and expects results. So the question comes, what is a good way for making plans? I will show you seven steps that will launch you to where you want to be.

Step One in Making Plans: Goals

All successful plans start with SMART goals. Goals must be saturated in prayer, be sensitive to the will of God, and contain good motives (James 1:5-8; 4:3, 13-16; Proverbs 16:2; 21:2). Goals are grounded in the Great Commandments (Mark 12:29-31), and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Let me expand. Identify your long and short term goals. Write them down. Visualize them. Carefully determine the steps you need to reach them. Set priorities on which step to do first, second, etc. This is critical: write down the reasons “why” you want to reach the goals. Your reasons become powerful motivators to propel you to achieving goals.  It is easy to drop your dreams in the face of discouragement and set backs, and you need something to stay motivated.
Step Two in Making Plans: Present Assessment

The Bible teaching about making plans is to honestly assess your present conditions. Jesus said, “For which one of you when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?” (Luke 14:28; cf. verses 29-32). Ask questions such as: What is my situation? What are my resources? What is my condition? After you have established your goals, and appraised what you have at hand, you will see a large gap stretching between the two poles. For example, if someone wanted to be a lawyer, but have only a high school education and are driving truck – then, there is a large gap between where they are and where they want to be. The task is to find out how to bridge the gap, and that becomes part of your plan.
Step Three in Making Plans: Identify Barriers

The next step in the Bible teaching about making plans is this: what stands between you and the goal? Write down everything you need to get from where you are to where you want to be. Mentally walk through all the steps. Carefully describe problems that might arise. Determine the barriers. Those barriers are the problems  you need to solve. After you come up with a solution to the problem, devise an action plan to get around the barriers. Now you have a route around those obstacles, you have your path to your goal. For example, what are some barriers looming between the person and them becoming a lawyer? Well, one obvious blockade is education. Another might be location to a good college. To get around the first hurdle, they need to figure out how to get the education. To get around the second barricade, they may need to move to a city where there is a college. You get the idea.
Step Four in Making Plans: Take Action

Sometimes our dreams and goals never materialize. We talk them to death, but don’t take action. Plan your work, and then work your plan. The Bible teaching about making plans says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).
Step Five in Making Plans: Control

You need some way to determine if your plan is working. One way is to form a budget and financial systems. Some mechanisms and checkpoints must be devised to verify if you are on target to reaching your goal. Studying principles for on time management  are good for this phase. Realize that some of the resources you start with may evaporate, but others will find their way to you. For example, perhaps in the beginning you have a job that will provide you enough money to survive and complete your dream. But, suddenly the job goes away. You have lost that resource. Be prepared to make adjustments. Circumstances change in life. For example, consider the many unforeseen obstacles that Job, David, and Joseph encountered and had to work around.
Step Six in Making Plans: Minimize Risk

The Bible teaching about making plans teaches us to reduce those things that hinder in reaching goals. The writer of Hebrews speaks to this principle, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Sticking with my earlier example, if money is short then cut expenses. I know this from personal situations in my own life. You have to cut the cost of petrol, repairs, tires, insurance, and car payments. Cutting risk, cost, and unproductive tasks will give you a better chance of success.

Step Seven in Making Plans: Maximize Opportunities

The Bible teaching about making plans encourages us to take advantage of new opportunities. Paul spoke to this principle, “Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that” (1 Corinthians 7:21). Let’s look at my son who at one time was studying to become a lawyer. While attending The Birmingham School of Law he had a part time job working at a pawn shop, I think at some point he worked part time in a law office…… but for a little less pay. We have always encouraged our children to take advantage of any opportunity. Well, he decided not to take the bar exam and changed his career to banking. Not what we expected at all!!! Yet, because of great planning skills, I am very proud to say he has excelled greatly in his chosen profession. The same with my other son who had a life dream of becoming a “Master Barber.” With great planning and timing he has also excelled greatly in his profession. He is a now a successful business owner and mentor to other young aspiring barbers. I give God all of the glory and praise!!!!

In closing: I like to read bumper stickers and just saw one yesterday that caught my eye. It said; Remember Who You Wanted To Be. How nice, I thought. Go back and examine your childhood dreams and see where you stand in comparison to where you wanted to end up. Maybe remembering will reactivate an old dream and provoke you to put a plan in place to accomplish it. But the next thought that hit my mind is that a lot of people never figured out “what they wanted to be when they grew up.” It’s common for high school graduates to head for college without definite plans. Many graduate from college and still don’t know what they want to do with their life. Many don’t really have dreams. What if you don’t know who you wanted to be? Don’t despair; there is something better than your own dreams. There is God’s dream for you. Every person created has a divine plan. God knew EXACTLY what he wanted you to be. He knows every gift and talent and he has destined every person for greatness even if they never achieve it. But it is a shame when they don’t because it is such a waste of the one life we have to live. If you are one who had a dream yet unfulfilled, go back to it. Pray over it and line up some steps to complete it. If you have never known what you were destined for, ask God. He knows and he will tell you. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11)

 Simple Nuggets:
“A dream without a plan is just a wish!”
“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goals”
“Use all obstacles as stepping stones to build the life you want!”
“An obstacle is often an unrecognized opportunity!”
“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional!”
“A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it!”

Have a wonderful Thursday!

All my love and prayers,
Minister Dot King