As the new year approaches I wonder whether you’re inspired to make plans for 2011? Newspapers and the web are full of ideas as to how to improve your lot over the next 12 months but usually it’s little more than losing a few pounds in weight or getting your finances in order.
But how can you make the very most of 2011? What about some serious planning?
Planning is not about learning to manage your time better it’s about learning to prioritise your plans so that you make better use of your time. For Christians planning means not being efficient with our time, it is about being effective with our time, making sure that what we do with our time really matters.
And the question we need to ask is what determines our priorities in our planning?
Tim Chester’s excellent book The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness shows how easy it is to fail to plan according to God’s priorities. When we don’t intentionally plan according to God’s priorities we’ll probably end up planning according to the world’s priorities.
Our world says ‘Success is primarily measured in the lifestyle you have’. Therefore success is measured in money. It’s about the car you drive, the house you own, or perhaps its about the status your job gives you.
So we plan to realise the lifestyle.
1. We have in our minds the goal lifestyle that we want and then
2. We look for the education that will lead to the job that will buy us that lifestyle we’re seeking.
3. To find the job and we move to wherever that job will take us. We sacrifice friends,family, church in a bid to get the job to give us the life we want. And then when a better job comes along we’re ready to do it all over again. My parents moved 11 times in 5 years!
4. Having found the home we are going to live in that goes with the job because we’re Christians we look for a church in the area that we can belong to.
5. Now in a church if the job allows us any time and energy we look to see if there is any way we might serve the church.
That is the way the world works and if we don’t plan that is the plan that we’re encouraged to follow. In other words we fall into a very worldly plan when we don’t plan otherwise and then we think it becomes a Christian plan because we have asked God to bless it.
What we’re really doing is making a plan that ignores God’s plan but asking him to bless it anyway.
And that is not the way Christians ought to plan.
You see the plans that set your priorities should be God’s plan. His plan for the world takes into account far more than that.
I guess if there were no god, then living the most comfortable prosperous life in this world would be a pretty wise choice. But God’s plan is nothing less than his coming Kingdom; a new heaven and earth. No wonder then that Jesus says ‘seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness’
Jesus is saying live in light of the plan. Be diligent in seeking God’s plan and applying it your priorities because God’s plan is perfect and his plans will come to pass.
Our decision as to whether or not we will plan is therefore a decision as to whether we want to live our lives in the light of God’s plan.
What God’s plan does is reverse our priorities.
It starts at the opposite end of the line and works back.
1. The key thing is to build your life around gospel maximisation rather than wealth accumulation. So we need to think in terms of
- How can I honour Christ in my marriage?
- What does it mean for me to raise my children in the fear of the Lord?
- How can I ensure I’m making the most of the gifts God has given me?
- How can I best be a blessing to my fellow brothers and sisters in the church?
As I remember that Christ is coming soon so my focus shifts to the very things that will cause me and those around me to discover Christ and be ready for his coming Kingdom.
2. Given those priorities I’ll need the church far more than perhaps I realised. God has given me gifts and given me a local church that is committed to helping me use them. My church becomes my means of fulfilling all of the above.
3. So rather than buying a lifestyle through a job and then finding a church I reverse those priorities. I find the church and then look for the house and job that can enable me to live out my Kingdom plan.
So when it comes to 2011 – what is shaping your priorities and your planning?
This is how Tim Chester in his excellent little book summarizes it:
2. List your own values, priorities and aspirations.
3. Read the Bible and list Jesus’ own values, priorities and aspirations
4. Compare the list
And as we look at our plans let’s keep looking to Jesus our supreme example in this. Not only is God a planner but Jesus was too. He lived his life in light of the plan.
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. (Luke 9:51).
Tomorrow I’ll look at some great practical questions to ask to help us make a better plan for 2011.
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