Failing to plan is Planning to Fail


When it comes to business the business plan is the key.  When it comes to church planting, planning is the key. As someone said until we have found the source of telepathy a business plan in our brain is not a business plan. People often complain about lack of time when the lack of direction is that real problem. We are living in a world where spirituality is understood as spirituality of noise. We don’t need to raise our voice when we can improve our arguments. The bad news is time has wings and the good news is that you are pilot or the bird.

This above quotes “Failing to plan is planning to fail” attributed to Benjamin Franklin the father of time management is music to our ears. One of the questions often worries my heart is that, is there room for Holy Spirit when we plan things ahead? We live our life today with the culture of glorification of instant. Instant Coffee, Fast food, Use and throw culture are some of the attributes of our generation. Can we have a goal setting process when we think about spiritual things or in connection with the church and ministry? Can we let God participate in our strategic planning? What does the Bible talk about planning ahead?

In my personal experience in ministry for many years, I have found that planning works better and it maximizes our time together. Every time I stand and preach there is a burning desire in my heart about time consciousness. This is how I see the preaching or time together. The time you preach multiplied by the number of audience you have. Example: If you have 100 audiences listening to you multiplied by 30 minutes (You’re preaching time). 100 X 30 minutes = 3000 minutes. That is 50 hours of productivity. What can we achieve comely as a productive citizens of God’s kingdom with 50 hours of productivity. I hope you now understand my stand point about the wise use of our personal time and time together.

Once I made a radical comment in my local church which created further discussions among our friends. I said this in the context of having around 15 to 20 hours of corporate regular prayer meetings in our local church in a week. (Sunday 4 + Tuesday 3+ Thursday Night 2.5+ Friday 3 + Saturday Youth Meeting 2.5 + Special meetings = 15 + hours). This was my statement: As Christianity grows in India the productivity and agricultural demands and dependency for the neighboring state (Tamil Nadu) also will grow. I also said this in the context of not having the spirituality of sowing but the spirituality of reaping the harvest. We have conventions and crusades but no seed distribution.  Here the question is who will plant the seed? Who will water it? I am sure God will let it grow. If we don’t plant the seed, if we don’t water it when we go for reaping the harvest we will be getting the wild Poison Ivey. We may misjudge the crop between good and bad. Unfortunately Christianity has a lot of them inside the church. Christians not genuinely repented of their sins. This motivated Gandhi to say "I love your Christ but I hate your Christians because your Christians are unlike your Christ".

Recently I attended a church camp where the preacher was making audience ready to receive the Word for two or three sections. Almost all the time allotted to him. I wonder how come the Spirit did not tell him that we are ready for this camp with anticipation for a spiritual awakening since three months. The management and planning is the ability to control how we spent our time effectively to accomplish our goals. I remember one of my mentor said we can have the gun powder spread it on a table and fire it and the effect will be very minimal where as the the same gun powder can be inside a pistol and we can destroy the target. Some of our preaching's are like gun powder spread it on the table.

When I learned Transaction Analysis (TA) few years back, I have learned the psychology of time management and planning. People are driven by subconscious scripts learned early in life, which govern the behavior. Some of them are Hurry up; Be perfect, Please people, Try hard, Be Strong etc. These may be imprinted in our psyche because of the repeated instruction from our parents. This is also copying parents. TA also talks about time structuring. When people get together people spent their time in six different ways, such as: Withdrawal, Rituals, Pastime, Activities, Games and Intimacy.

When a person withdraws s/he take a rational adult decision and physically present but does not transact. The only possible stroke is self-strokes in order to avoid psychological risk of rejection. This meets their personal needs for time to be alone. This will rejuvenate the person’s thoughts and feelings. This will also lead to a fantasy world to enjoy uncensored pleasure, violence, creative imagination, learned fears and catastrophic expectations. Ritual is another stereotyped complementary transaction from communicating “hi” to complicated religious rituals. Basically the structural rituals belongs to parent ego state and functionally they are from adopted child ego state. The Pastimes has no structures like rituals but leeway’s to make their own embellishments. What happened in the pastime = past-time. When men come together they talk about Car and motor vehicles and women prefer kitchen or fashion cloths or ornaments. People enjoy pastime because it mostly generate positive strokes. The Activity is mostly a transaction from adult ego state and mostly the goal is “here and now”. This will generate conditional positive and conditional negative strokes. The next one is psychological Game people play. The common outcome is at the end of play both parties feel bad. This is the replay of childhood strategies. This mainly comes from the negative adopted child, controlled parents or negative nurturing parents. The final time structure is Intimacy in which there are no secret messages. This can be understood as a hug or kiss at the end of a quarreling. This is not intimacy in the real sense of intimacy. The quarreling starts as part of the game. In the real intimacy both accepts his or her responsibility. There are a lot of stroking and the real intimacy is from the adult ego state.

When it comes to planning we have the following excuses such as It is too hard, It’s too unpredictable, It’s time consuming, It’s not necessary. When it comes to planning we often say it should be SMART. Smart stands for the following specifications, such as S- Specific: What, where and how? M- Measurable, from and to when? A- achievable: can it be done?, R- realistic or feasible. Time- timely: When?

Benjamin Franklin gives us the advice to ask the following questions in the morning and evening? What Good shall I do today? What good have I done today?  Is it not the same we should ask as a church and community of people of God? Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn, Said Benjamin Franklin. He also said “Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.” This is same when it comes to organizations and people. When we do the glorification of "4 standards" are we not carry the new wine in the old wine skin. 

The Bible talk about the importance of planning in Luke: 14: 28-33 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. ... In Prov: 21: 5 says: The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Time is money and it is the most powerful resource given to us by God. Let’s use it for good and useful for the Kingdom of God. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

Binu Peniel

2016 (C)


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