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Leadership/Organizational Development Concept
Wisdom of the ages (Quote/Thought from the Church Fathers)
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Devotional Theme:
Preparation versus Planning

Is James telling us not to plan? Yes and no. James' admonition is of importance to leaders in that leaders are to plan for their organizations but not to plan for their own lives. Does this mean that we are not establish our 10-year plans for professional accomplishment? Yes -- and this is the key to this devotional. James' advice is that if we, as individuals, want to do something, then we should ask God to wish it for us rather than for us to wish it ourselves. The reason for this is simply that when a person sets out to accomplish his personal will for his life he negates the opportunities that God provides. This is evident in the lives of people who sought their own success and achieved it, yet comment that they feel like something is missing. Contrast this with the people who seem fulfilled in what they are doing and who tell people they would not have predicted a few years earlier that they would be doing what they are doing or going where they are going. The difference between the two types of people is that the first is planning and the second is preparing.

What's the difference between planning and preparing? Planning is deciding what you will do and preparing is becoming ready to do what you might be called to do. 

Did Moses 'plan' to tend sheep for 40 years? Did Saul 'plan' to join the very Christians that he persecuted? Think about how Moses' tending sheep prepared him to lead the Israelites from Egypt. Moses argued with God and pleaded with God not to call him to this task. Can you imagine Moses talking to his father-in-law and saying how a few years before parting the Red Sea that he would not have believed that he would do what he did? Can you imagine Paul meeting his pre-conversion friends on the road and commenting to them how well his personal career plan was going? It is a common refrain from folk that if someone told them a few years earlier that they would be doing what they're doing now they wouldn't have believed it. But, using hindsight it is easy to see how your past experiences have prepared you to serve God in where He has placed you.

Example of the devotional

My own (Bruce Winston) background can be an example here. I completed 12 years of experience in the commercial printing industry and felt compelled to leave my business in order to study both an MBA and an MA in Communication in order to understand what I did right and what I did wrong in business (I think I did more wrong than right). As the time of graduation neared, I was convinced that with my background and with my degrees God wanted me to move into the Christian publishing field, but all the doors shut as I sought work. Although I told myself that I would 'never' go back to the commercial printing industry, I took a job in it.  After spending a semester adjunct teaching for the university, I  then found myself, a year later, back at the university. Within three months of taking a job at the university I found myself unexpectedly in charge of a distance-education program that required a strong background in printing, tape duplication, copy writing, project coordination, curriculum development, and teaching. All of what I had done in the past 15 years of work and study prepared me for the new position directing the distance education program. My job at the university has changed many times since then and I can see, in hind-sight, how the past has always prepared me for the present. I doubt that I would have sought each new job and I probably would have balked at the idea of each job if someone told me what I would be doing in the future -- but each step provided the 'right' opportunity to serve Him. 

Application of the devotional

When reviewing the work of your peers and followers, consider how their past experiences might have prepared them for future roles. Don't look at the obvious, such as degrees, but at the less obvious.

Practical exercise related to the devotional

Consider how your past has prepared you for what you are doing today. When you next feel 'compelled' to learn something or master a new skill -- consider it just part of God's preparation for future service. He will inform you of what service that will be when He is ready and He knows that you are ready..