Grace to you!
Long-term planning is a double-edged sword. In many cases, it is a wonderful thing. In other cases, it could be a bottleneck to growth and blessing.
I’m fascinated to hear friends and family share 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 at regarding the goals we have set for ourselves. It makes the path of the future seem clearer. 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, a nonflexible long-term plan could be a bottleneck not only economically, but also in our relationship with God. It’s a double-edged sword. What is a blessing could equally 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 a better 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 suppose 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 that seems to ignore providence in the equation: “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 plan chart if you have one. Include “God willing” or “By the grace of God” or “If the Lord wills.” In other words, in your planning, think in the light of God’s grace. Also, be open to adjust as new facts evolve concerning better ways to do things. It saves us from many surprises.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Wednesday, Week 7 Ordinary Time: Jas 4:13-17; Mk 9:38-40]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
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.