Planning is a key to successful leadership. But are “the best laid plans of mice and men” destined to fail like Robert Burns’ poem suggests? Perhaps – especially when the plans are solely manmade. The very best plans are laid with God and men. Let’s take a look.

For years, our ministry did traditional strategic planning complete with SWOTs* and critical success factors. We spent hours at board retreats brainstorming, taping flip chart pages to the wall, and later distilling them into a color-coded chart.

There was nothing wrong with the process, there was just Someone missing at the table.

We’ve learned that God is strategic, He’s a planner, and He has opinions. Good ones. We’ve learned He speaks through His Word and His Spirit, and He wants us to listen. To partner with Him. To obey. We’ve learned to start the planning process in dialogue with God and continue the process in prayer.

How to Plan with God

1. Honor God. Hands-down, this is the best place to begin. As you elevate God through worship and Scripture, your spirit will soar with His indescribable greatness. He will be glorified and you will be invigorated. 

2. Tune into His heart. God’s ways and thoughts are greater than ours. Take notice of Scriptures, perspectives, and wisdom that come to mind. God knows you’re in a planning mode for your ministry, and He wants to provide input.

3. Dialogue. Begin talking to God about what you’re sensing, and do it out loud so others can hear. Listen carefully as others pray, taking note of themes that emerge. Continue tuning into Scripture-based thoughts from God. Jot down key concepts and discuss them together to determine which ones God is directing you to pursue.

4. Write it down. When you’re finished, compile your discernment into an organized plan – much like the one that’s at the top of this page. The difference is, yours will be based on the Chief Planner’s wisdom.

5. Keep praying. Anytime you review the plan or enact segments of it, continue talking with God and each other. Just because a plan was birthed in the spirit, doesn’t mean we can’t veer off in the flesh. We want to stay close to God, continue hearing His voice, and obey.

During the planning process, it’s tempting to take shortcuts in your time with God. But shortcuts will short-circuit your plan. Better to spend sufficient time with God on the front end than to have a man-made strategy that’s doomed to fall short of God’s intentions.

At our ministry, we discern first and plan second. And all along the way, as we’re executing the plan, we check in with God for tweaks, adjustments, or complete left turns if He says so.

When your annual strategic planning season rolls around, remember: The very best plans are laid with God and men.

“The very best plans are laid with God and men.”

-Lisa Hosler

*SWOTs is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats which are analyzed in determining critical success factors.

In what ways does God form the foundation of your strategic planning? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.

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