Where Are You Going?
“What’s this?” I asked.
“It’s our annual plan,” he replied.
I had just started consulting with Tom and his ministry. They had been consistently helping people for years, but felt that God wanted them to move from bearing some fruit to bearing much fruit. I had asked to see their most recent ministry plan. Tom handed me two sheets of paper filled with bullet points. It wasn’t the length of the document that concerned me. Great plans focus on what’s truly essential and can often be quite concise. My concern was that what I held in my hands was really just a long list of action items.
“This looks like a to-do list,” I said as kindly as I could.
“Yes, of course,” Tom replied. “It’s what we plan to do this year.”
I couldn’t help it. A small chuckle escaped my mouth. At one level that made perfect sense. And It wasn’t Tom’s fault no one had taught him how to develop a ministry plan. But to be effective, a good plan has to include more than just a list of action items.
Luckily Tom wasn’t offended by my reaction. He was more interested in how to develop a plan that would lead them to greater impact. When I explained the need to include other factors in his plan his immediate response was, “Great. Where do we start?”
Effective planning actually starts at the end and ends where most people start. You need to decide where you will go before you think about what you will do to get there.
Effective planning starts at the end and ends where most people start.
I live in Chicago. If I were to plan a trip to visit a friend, I would have to start by determining my destination. Do I want to visit Chris in California, Will in Washington, Mike in Maine, or Fred in Florida? I can’t decide what I’ll do to get there until I know where I am going.
Take a minute to think about your own plan. (Do you have one?) If you follow your plan to perfection, where will you end up? Is that where you want to go? If not, what’s your desired destination? If you don’t know, take some time to really think about where you want to go. And, more importantly, where God wants to take you. Once you’re clear on your destination, then you can move to the next part in the planning process.