A Biblical View of Planning

The following post is part II of a IV-part series by Masterworks President Steve Woodworth on biblical planning.Click here to learn more about Steve.

(Read part I, part II, part III, part IV)

The one Scripture which relates directly to business planning is the familiar James passage (4:13-16). It is very negative:

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town, and spend a year there and trade and make a profit — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance.” (ESV) Key points:

  • Too much reliance on our own ideas, turned into plans, is condemned as arrogance.

  • God is sovereign and will determine what happens.

  • Even when looking ahead one year, we are reminded that our lives are very short. We may not have another day, much less a year.

  • We should make decisions based not on our desired future, but on what we believe to be God’s will, not looking any further ahead than we can discern His leading.

There’s a remarkably similar thought pattern in Romans 12:2-3:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God…I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (ESV)

This mirrors the James passage:

  • God desires us to become the kind of people who can discern His will.

  • It contrasts worldly thinking with discerning God’s will.

  • It warns against arrogance.

  • It speaks to the sovereignty of God in assigning us each a measure of faith.

There’s an interesting additional point. “By testing,” we may discern the will of God. The Greek word here is one that means to determine the worth of something by trying it out or putting it into practice.

Putting these two passages together, I think it teaches that we should try to discern God’s will for us at any point in time. Then we should test it by trying it, always watching to see if it still appears to be God’s will. The person planning to go to a city for a year should say, “I think God is leading me to go to that city. I think this idea for how to make money there will work. I’ll go try it out and see if it really is God’s will. I expect to do it for a limited time, but I’ll have to discern when He shows me it’s time to move back home.”

Tomorrow: A Matter of Timing