by Noah Sanders.
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes to poverty.” —Proverbs 21:5
When I was close to finishing high school I wanted to start a small farming business. So my father gave me an assignment to write a business plan. I didn’t really know how to go about it. But I researched it and wrote descriptions, goals, production schedules, infrastructure needs, budgets, and marketing strategies. The next year I began executing my plan during my first season of commercial production. And not surprisingly everything didn’t go as planned! For example, my plan was to have vegetable production be my core enterprise, with pastured broiler production second and egg production third. But the garden flooded and was my least profitable enterprise. Then I ended up buying out another farmer’s layer operation which made eggs our core product. So my strategy didn’t go as planned, but I ended up reaching my income goal for the first year of my farm anyway!
I am grateful for my father encouraging me to take time to plan. It is something I ‘plan’ to teach my three sons how to do. As some of you may consider helping your sons or family learn how to plan here are a few lessons that you could consider sharing with them.
- Planning is Important
Even though the first year of my farm didn’t work out exactly as planned, I believe that the time I took to make a plan enabled me to reach my income goal. Planning enables us to bring the future into the present and be purposeful rather than just drift and react as things come along. In the book of Proverbs we read, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5) In order to spend our time, days, weeks, and years profitably we have to make an effort to do everything on time, to a high standard, and with minimal waste. It takes effort and forethought to be able to order any area of our life this way and planning is essential for doing this.
- Plans have to be Flexible
It is easy to get ‘married’ to a plan. But we live in a world of uncertainties full of things out of our control. Just like I had to with my farm plan, we have to learn to expect that our plans will require adjustment. The key is to not let the adjustment of our strategy discourage us from our goal. If we can differentiate between our goal (where we want to get to) and our strategy (how we are going to get there) then it can help us to know what to stick fast to and what to be flexible in. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” In my life, I have found that God honors my faithfulness in planning. But He often directs my steps in a way that keeps me humble and requires me to step out of my comfort zone.
I encourage you to take the time this year to help your family chart a course for 2018. It will be an exercise that could shape the rest of your lives. Here are a few suggested steps:
- Take time to review the expectations, wins, disappointments, and lessons from 2017.
- Write down your ideal destination for 2018 in your spiritual life, relationships, work, education, physical shape, etc.
- Come up with a short list of specific goals and a few first steps for each one.
- Set up a time to regularly review your goals.
In conclusion, I would like to offer a warning against a pitfall that can come with planning. Don’t let your planning become a fancy way of procrastinating. Just get a clear goal and do the first step. Proverbs 14:23 warns us “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Often God doesn’t show us the next 10 steps, just the next one. If we are faithful to obey that one, then he will show the next one. What we can’t do is let our excuse of not knowing how we are going to reach our goal prevent us from beginning to make progress toward it. Let’s stop drifting through life this year, and chart a purposeful course with the full knowledge of the wild adventure that may lay ahead!
Noah Sanders is a farmer, homesteader and author in Goodwater, Alabama. He is a passionate follower of Jesus who desires to know him more and make disciples through his daily life. Together with his wife, Dorothy, and three young sons, Noah runs a small farming operation producing vegetables using all-natural techniques based on the design of God in Creation. He is the author of Born Again Dirt: Farming to the Glory of God. You can find his blog at www.redeemingthedirt.com