Trusting God is wise. In fact, that’s about the most wise thing you could do.
Proverbs tells us
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
Reading this passage, you might find yourself blindly trusting and resting in laziness. You might be tempted to trust, but not work. To trust, but not plan. To trust, but not structure and create systems.
When we read Proverbs 3:5-6, we often focus in on the phrase “lean not on your own understanding,” which is crazy important. It’s prideful and ignorant to assume you know best. We trust God because He is the source of wisdom, is sovereign over all creation, and wants what’s best.
His ways are better than our ways. His thoughts higher than our thoughts. They are much higher. (re: Isaiah 55:8-9)
But what’s often overlooked here is that trusting God doesn’t exempt us from having “ways.” The verse says, “In all your ways…” which presumes even in trusting you’ll create plans and systems and organizations. That you’ll evaluate, create infrastructures, and plan forward. In this process, if we choose to submit every detail to God, trusting Him first, he’ll make our paths straight.
Not “straight” in that everything will be successful as we often define success. But “straight” in that our ways can honor God.
So how do you trust in the planning?
5 ways to trust God while you plan
1. Read Scripture.
God speaks most clearly and profoundly, and we can trust every Word that’s said, in the Bible. The Bible speaks in principles and stories, not necessarily specific to your future ministry plans. Which means you’ve got to do some hard work in applying the Truth to the work in front of you. If you’re going to submit your ways to God, you’ve got to know what He says is True. (if you haven’t already, check out YouVersion and pick out a plan that will help you read through the Bible)
Please don’t overlook your conversations with God. This is a crucial aspect to submitting your ways to Him. It’s a great mark of humility and wisdom when you spend time seeking God in prayer. We’re encouraged in Scripture to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) (you may find the Small Group Network’s Care Team helpful if you need prayer)
3. Seek counsel.
Find other godly men and women who you can lean on for counsel. Don’t lead alone! Without insight from others, all of your ideas seem best. Don’t forget that you’re only one person, with one perspective and one set of experiences and wisdom to draw from.
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22
(if you’re a small group point person, check out the Small Group Network, built around this very concept, and join a group in your area)
4. Evaluate past endeavors.
To overlook past mistakes, and successes, would be foolish. Learn from the past, and grow because of it. (heard of a 360 degree evaluation? Ever tried one for your small groups ministry?) If it’s true that “there’s nothing new under the sun, ” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) then we would be well-advised to learn what’s been under our sun.
5. Seize opportunities God places before you.
I place this last, because by the time you’ve made it through all of the other steps, you’ll have much greater clarity as to what God’s voice sounds like. If you haven’t spent time with Him, it’s hard to know when it’s God speaking and when it’s simply the burrito you ate last night for dinner. “Closed doors” and “open doors” only make sense when evaluated through the preceding 4 lens. How do we know that? If Jesus would’ve relied on the “open door” to follow God’s will, he wouldn’t have gone to the cross. He walked through a “closed door” with confidence. (Luke 22:42-44) Systematically working through the first 4 ways to trust God can give us great confidence in looking to divine circumstances as we plan.
Trust in the Lord! But don’t let that drive you to laziness.
What are you planning for this upcoming small group season?
Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN. He’s also the marketing director for the Small Groups Network. Ben blogs regularly atBenReed.net. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.