In 2006 I was drowning. Our church had recently gone through massive changes, and I found myself in a brand new role. After years of working primarily with college and high school groups, I now found myself as an assistant pastor to the general church body. I was asked to wear quite a few hats. I was in a million meetings. I wrote down a million things a day. And almost every day, I had no idea where to start.
I remember rifling through various notebooks, looking for the next big task. I felt swamped, sure, but mostly I just didn’t want to forget something important. I didn’t realize it, but I was stressed.
One day a friend and I grabbed a sandwich. He began talking about his business, how things we developing. He told me about a system he was using, David Allen’s Getting Things Done. I was intrigued.
By the time I went to sleep that night, I had read the whole book. I was starting to realize my need for personal planning and organization.
Since that time, I have developed my own personal workflow. I don’t consider myself a highly organized person. In fact, I easily lose focus wonder what is next. Still, God has helped me grow in this all important area of life. These disciplines have helped my in my role at home, in other relationships, and in the church.
In this short series I will talk about these elements:
- The need for planning and organization.
- Inboxes: How I capture stuff.
- Weekly Review: How I process stuff.
- iRules: How I develop guidelines to do stuff.
The Need For Planning And Organization
It ought to be obvious that God is a planner. In six days he created with such detail and thought. After the fall of man, he put in motion the plan of the cross of Christ to redeem mankind. He chose Abraham and planned to bring the Messiah from his line. When David wanted to build a temple for God, God planned to build an eternal dynasty for David. He planned the return of Israel from captivity after 70 years in Babylon. He selected the twelve in a strategic look to the future church era. God has plans.
Anyone can stifle the leading of the Holy Spirit. When I am disorganized and unplanned, I often find I don’t have the freedom to respond to the Spirit because I am swamped with the urgent. Putting out fires, I cannot be filled with His fire.
Additionally, when too structured, I find I cannot respond to His gentle leading towards a person or opportunity. So for me, there is a balance to strive for.
Still, my conviction has been that people who plan and organize can more easily be led by the Spirit. Paul had a plan to preach in Asia and then Bithynia, but God led him via dreams to Philippi (Acts 16:6-10). His plans led to God’s plan.
The Proverbs seem to affirm this basic rule of life. “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). We plan. Then God directs. As we move, he moves us.
Additionally, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). With diligence we plan. That leads to abundance, blessing, fulness. To behave otherwise leads to poverty. This is financial, to be sure, but more than financial.
Finally, “Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house” (Proverbs 24:27). There are steps we must take in our life’s work. Steadily, we prepare, ready, and build. This cannot be done without planning and organization.
I recently enjoyed a visit to a wonderful church. They have been very fruitful over the years. Many conversions, tons of disciples. I walked through the main campus of their building thinking about all the planning and detail that went into that space. The church is the people. The building is their space. But those grounds took planning. And that planning has led to the blessing of thousands.