Grace to you!
Long term planning is a double-edged sword. You may be thinking, “What do you mean by that?” Lend me your ear and find out why.
I love the Western world. I’ve lived in it long enough to understand that people have grown in a good culture of long-term planning. I’m always fascinated to hear my Western friends and family tell me how they have worked out every detail of the rest of their lives, up to the likely time they will pass.
Their retirement plan is worked out – how much they need, budget for vacations, for charities, for family, grand kids, great-grand kids, for emergencies and unforeseen expenditures, every detail. This fascinates me.
It’s a wonderful, commendable practice. It’s equally, in my opinion, a probable sign of good stewardship of our God given gifts, talents and treasure.
Long term planning generally gives us a better view, a panoramic view of where we are and where we are going. It’s like a map leading us in the right direction. Similarly, it helps us know where we have to work harder, where to make some improvements and adjustments, as well as when and how to re-strategize.
However, fixed long-term planning could be dangerous in our relationship with God. It’s a double-edged sword. What is a blessing could also be a stumbling block.
Take for instance; you planned to visit Spain when you are fifty, during the summer. You have all things worked out ahead of time. However, something happened in the family that calls for your physical attention. You could delegate, but the more Christian thing to do is to be present. If you are fixed on your long term planning, you may insist on travelling and cause your family more pain than you had thought.
A more serious example is when our long term planning does not make room for God. We think we are in charge and have the final say. We have worked it all out, when actually God has the final say. One single turn of events, say a health situation or death of a loved one can change the entire plan. I love what the Letter of James has to say about the paradox of fixed long-term planning:
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and realize some gain,” whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are in a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).
If I may recommend for us, go back to your vision-plan or long-term planning chart. Include “God willing” or “By the grace of God” or “If the Lord wills” and think that way. It will save you from many surprises.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Recommended bible readings for Wednesday, May 18, 2016, Week 7 Ordinary Time: James 4:13-17; Mark 9:38-40]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.