In case you haven’t noticed, it is July. The significance for many ministry settings which operate on an academic year is that it is time to begin thinking about a strategic plan. This can be the case for any organization that operates on an academic calendar, or a fiscal one which begins in August or September. I have helped a lot of teams in their planning process and I have taught on strategic planning on numerous occasions. I regularly see two missteps when it comes to team planning. Either the plans are not worth executing because they were poorly done or teams are worn out through the process-or both. Over the next several posts I will offer some insights that might change your planning environment toward a more productive and enjoyable one. Today, we will begin by talking about the two primary purposes of planning. I am drawing both of my principles from a spiritual perspective-but believe them to be true no matter the setting.
1. The 1st Purpose of Planning is Stewardship This is the idea that all of the resources we have at our disposal are not our own. Typically we do not wholly own these resources, they have simply been entrusted to us to employ. The idea of stewardship also carries the notion that we will always have a limited supply of resources. In other words, they are not inexhaustible and we rarely have all that we want. I believe this to be true whether we are leading a for profit enterprise or a non-profit organization. With these two things in mind it makes sense that we have to be incredibly wise about the right use of the resources entrusted to us. Under the banner of “resources” I would primarily count people, money, and tools. Because we believe our cause to be worthy and because our resources are always limited-we have to employ the people, money, and tools under our watch with great care and towards the highest leveraged activities and strategies possible. This absolutely requires thoughtful planning.
2. The 2nd Purpose of Planning is Celebration You may think this a strange reason for good planning. But I find that leaders and teams often spend days on crafting a robust strategic plan only to forget to celebrate key milestones along the way. This can ultimately be very demotivating to a team giving it’s best effort to execute a plan. This can also raise the belief that the constant, non stop focus on planning and execution is primarily for the sake of the leader. To stop and celebrate not only allows a proper break in the daily harried activity but it also provides a great opportunity to acknowledge individual and team contributions. This places the proper emphasis on team and not just on a leader. If you are a spiritual leader it also allows you the space to give God his deserved glory for showing up in ways that you had not anticipated and adding his blessing to your plans. Celebration can take many forms. I think it should be specific, acknowledging critical milestones and key contributions. I also think it should be regular, taking place each time a new goal is reached. To stop and celebrate says that the dog days of planning were worth it. It also keeps your plan a living document that can change and adapt over time (more on this later).
This post says nothing about how to plan-we will get there. But I hope it speaks clearly as to why we must plan. We must see all resources as valuable and every effort as note worthy. To do so elevates the function of planning. Lead and plan well!
Here are some key verses from the Bible on planning: Exodus 26:30; 1 Chronicles 28:12; Job 42:2; Psalm 20:4; Psalm 33:11; Proverbs 14:22; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 20:18; Proverbs 21:5; Isaiah 14:24; Ephesians 1:11