“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”- Jeremiah 33:3
It is that time of year again. The excitement wells up in my chest, my mind begins racing with ideas and possibilities, and I can’t wait because of the anticipation building in my soul. What is going on, you ask? Those of you that know me well may have already guessed: IT’S STRATEGIC PLANNING TIME!
That is right, it is the time of year that I sit down with Pastor Wade and discuss our dreams and vision for the coming years. I love this time because I get to spend some great time with God, asking what He wants to do next. I get so excited to re-visit where we have been as a church and where He is leading us next. How will we worship? Which leaders is He raising up for His mission? How are we being called to minister and love those around us? How will we, as a congregation, come to know Jesus more intimately?
Who wouldn’t be excited??
I create my planning and goal objectives with several different time frames in mind: the immediate, 1-3 years, and 5-10 years. And each year I re-visit those longer-term plans, adjusting for any changes that might be needed. You might think planning that far in advance is strange, however, we have occupied this church for over 8 years now, and it has gone by in the blink of an eye. We have to continually be looking at the future, or it will pass us by and take our opportunities for reaching others for Christ with it.
The point today is that I wanted to share the method I use for planning. It is the best gift from God I can receive and I believe it isn’t contained to church leadership. For anyone that is hoping to make good decisions, I believe cultivating a means of listening to God is essential.
We all listen to God differently. But during my planning process, this is what I do. (I would love for you to share your experiences if you are willing.)
- I go to my quiet place. I personally have several, but yesterday I spent a couple of hours at our church prayer labyrinth.
2. I don’t begin with:
- What we are currently doing
- What other people are doing
- What we have done in the past
- What is logical
- What makes sense
- What can we afford
3. Instead, I clear my mind as best I can with all my pre-conceived notions. After all, He may be leading us in a completely different direction, and I need to be open to that. Then I ask God to show me, in a way that I can understand, where He wants us to go, what He wants us to do.
4. Then I wait. And listen.
5. Then I wait and listen some more.
6. I bring a drawing pad, a bible, and my journal with me. I continue to write or draw anything that comes to mind.
7. I don’t ask for any specifics like “How?” or “When?” or “How will we pay for it?”
8. I just listen and record whatever message or vision He shows me. Then I agree to do whatever it is to be the best of my ability.
9. Then I come back again the next day, and the next. And I continue to pray the same prayers and ask the same questions and record whatever I receive. And eventually, I have a plan of action and a peace of heart that I am headed in the right direction.
The key is, I keep coming back until I have what I need to proceed. Sometimes it takes a day, some times I come every day for months. But the secret is that I keep coming. Just like the persistent widow, I have faith that if I keep asking, God will answer. And not only does He answer, He gives me a good plan. I never worry that I made the wrong decision or choice. I never second-guess myself. And I never have any anxiety about what might be coming in the future. I have peace.
My friends, I hope that you have the ability to withdraw from the world and work through your decisions with God. I hope that you have a place to meet with Him. And I hope that you have the patience and wisdom to seek Him continually. The blessings of His presence in such matters are too numerous to count. And as followers of Christ, we are called to walk with Him in all things. There is grace in the everyday with Him if we will only seek it out.
In my prayer time at the labyrinth, I spent a good deal of time lying on my back in the center. This was my magnificent view. It changed my perspective on several ideas.