Meet Michelle Oney. She’s the Director of Development at Josh McDowell Ministry and has a passion for strategic planning, developing people, and making the most of every opportunity to share the gospel.
From the Old Testament with Moses, Joshua, Nehemiah, and David to the New Testament with Jesus and Paul, the Bible is full of examples of leaders who strategically planned in order to accomplish what God had called them to do. As we look to planning for 2016, we can’t just look at what worked and what didn’t last year. We don’t have to rely on brainstorming, ideation, skill, experience, or creativity. Of course we may use some of those techniques and strategies, but in the end our power is found in a divine connection to our purpose.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” If we seek God’s purpose in our 2016 plan (whether a ministry’s plan, family plan or individual plan), then we are on a path to success before we even set out.
How Jesus Did It
Jesus summarized his earthly ministry plan when he said, "For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). So how do we live out Proverbs 19:21 and exemplify the heart of Christ so that God’s plans become evident and easier to carry out?
Let’s see how Jesus did it:
- Get close: Amidst his busy ministry schedule, Jesus knew when to take time and be alone with the Father. It kept him close. It is hard to drift from the mission and the plan when you stay close to the Source and Giver of the plan. Studies show that environments of chaos kill creativity. We must build time into our schedule for prayer and even ideation, and if there is not enough, we should insist on more.
- Find touchstones: When tempted Jesus referred back to scripture. He taught from scripture. It was the touchstone of his life and ministry. As Christians we must use scripture to keep us close to God. And on an organizational/leadership level, we must also use our mission and vision as touchstones to ensure that we stay focused on our common calling.
- Build your team: Jesus handpicked men and women to walk beside him. Some were close and some were very close. Some knew their gifts and some had their gifts revealed to them. Jesus was a leader who was generous, forgiving, and uniting. As leaders and team members, we must also help each other develop gifts in a generous, forgiving, and unified environment.
- Keep it simple — repeat often: Christ’s message was very simple, yet he patiently taught and retaught it to the masses and to his disciples. He used stories to communicate to people. Through techniques like lean management we can review our progress on a regular basis and stay focused on the simplest story of our mission.
- Find joy: Throughout Christ’s ministry he celebrated with those whose bodies were healed andlives were changed. When we receive stories of changed lives related to our work or ministry, we should be intentional in being publicly thankful and corporately celebrating God’s favor.
- Build character: Christ was a friend of sinners and tax collectors. He noticed the beggars and the sick. Yet his character remained flawless even in the shadow of the cross. We are personally challenged every day to become more like him through the process of sanctification.
How We Can Do It
So how do we emulate Jesus, through the guidance of his Holy Spirit, as we plan and live out our purpose in 2016? Consider the following questions:
- Are you taking time to be alone with the Lord? Do you allow your team to do so?
- When planning do you open with prayer and invite God to steer the process? Was he part of authoring your mission and vision? Do you reference scripture, mission, and vision as touchstones while planning?
- Are the right people involved in planning? Are the right people on your team? Is everyone committed to the process?
- Is the plan simple? Is it reviewed throughout the year? Revised?
- Is your team joyful in the planning process? Do they look forward to what God is going to do in the upcoming year? Do you celebrate his favor along the way?
- Is the process executed with integrity and character? Are all team members honored? Is Christ glorified?
How much better could 2016 be by planning like Jesus this year?
*Photo by Intrinsic-Image 2016