I’ve got a plan. You’ve got a plan. We all have a wonderful plan for our life. How come it sometimes doesn’t seem to work out the way we want? ♦
It’s part of our get-ahead culture to plan and prepare, to have a schedule to follow, to map out a path of activity and measurable milestones for evaluation and adjustment. As Lewis Carroll wrote “If you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will get you there.” Most people in civilized society have an idea where they think they want to go and work hard to get there.
Think about it. As small children we’re conditioned to attend school to learn, to get good grades, to progress through school and then to good schools for higher and more specific education. From there as young adults we target jobs and vocations that will provide provisional income and growth and stimulation in areas of interest or greatest opportunity. Then as adults we’ll move from one job to another seeking still higher income, growth and stimulation.
Sometimes at some point it may no longer be that interesting or even that great an opportunity. It’s merely a job. To quote Rocky Balboa, “It’s a living.” Is this the way life’s supposed to be?
Christian Career Counseling?
I get asked often for career advice or vocational direction from the young and up-and-comers. It’s even more interesting when they are young Christians with a heart for the kingdom and a drive for the top of the mountain. How is that reconciled? Actually pretty easily by most.
Because, after all, we’re conditioned as small children to learn and progress and target growth, stimulation and the greatest opportunity. Now maybe add some community volunteer work, or better yet, full-time work in ministry or noble cause.
But is this right? As Christians, are we supposed to do good work, be the best we can be and achieve greatness? Most people say yes, even Christians. I agree. However with a bit of a twist.
A young man struggles with love, work, ministry and purpose. Should he go to grad school, should he go to seminary, should he get a real job? Should he date her? Should he marry young? Should he marry at all? Should he keep volunteering at the shelter? Should he develop new friends that care about the things he does? Should he this? Should he that? The questions swirl in his head and culminate in confusion and frustration and Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. Clear FUD. And he doesn’t know which way is up.
This Christian life is tough. What’s a guy to do?
Would Jesus Go to Business School?
What would Jesus do? Some would think he’d go to the best grad school and be an influence in the world of business. Or maybe get into a start-up accelerator or incubator program with a chance to change the world with his product or technology. Better yet, his non-profit! Yes, that would be it, something to save the environment or feed the poor or bring water to people dying of thirst. Yes, Jesus would be great at a noble vocation.
Dare I say, that’s all off. And the question is irrelevant for those seeking guidance and clarity to the direction of their lives.
What We Do: “God, I’ve Got a Plan”
Besides asking hypothetical and irrelevant questions, most of us do the following:
- Determine what I want
- Determine the best way to get there
- Execute the plan
- Pray to God for success
And people do this whether they really walk with God or not. It’s the “I’ve Got a Plan” approach to life. We share our desires with family and friends. We cultivate the idea and seek counsel to support and hone the idea. We conduct research and consider our options and best alternatives to achieve and execute the plan. And, of course, we pray to God that He helps it all be good and successful. Because, after all, we want to serve Him and our fellow man and make the world a better place.
Then we wonder why it’s not working out or we feel empty. Or it actually does work out and we still are feeling empty and unfulfilled. What wrong with this picture?
What We Should Do: “God, Take My Plan”
The answer is actually just a small but significant shift in orientation about our great Plan. Consider the following:
- Ask God to do what He wants with you
- Ask God to show you the best way to get there
- Ask God to lead you in executing the plan
- Ask God to keep you successfully in His will, not yours.
It’s actually a full surrender plan. Not my will, but His. I may have a plan, clear desires, dreams and strong inclinations even toward unique areas of vocational focus and interests. These are actually God-given as we’re each created and wired uniquely (“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. – Psalm 139:13). And these dreams may be in business, government, education – the marketplace. And the Church operates in the marketplace so we’re to be ministers everywhere.
But I need to “put it all on the table” and give it up to God’s will, not mine. “Lord, I’m done” is the attitude. And it’s simply asking God in prayer to take me and my plan and do with it what He wants:
- “Lord, what do you want me to do and be?”
- “Lord, how do I get there? Please direct me.”
- “Lord, I can’t do this alone, equip and help me do what you want me to do.”
- “Lord, keep me on the right path and bless it for your purposes and glory, not mine.”
That Certain Uncertainty
This Surrender Plan is a daily thing. It has to be. Jesus lived this way, getting his directional orders daily from the Father. It’s the same for us. We need to seek His guidance daily though the steps along the road are incremental and uncertain. But we can be certain that it is good, purposeful, and fruitful. In fact, if we walk with Him, we can’t miss.
Are you on the Surrender Plan?
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:3-6