Pastors, God has commissioned you to make disciples.
God has gifted you to equip your church members for ministry.
And God has committed you to train up not one generation of leaders but to oversee the training of two additional generations of leaders.
But are you? Are you doing these things?
I know I have struggled to develop leaders. Why? One reason is that I got busy doing church. Each week was filled with sermon prep and then preaching; administration, phone calls, visits.
Nothing wrong with that. But weeks would go by, then months. And before you know it a year has passed and I still have not developed a leader.
But that’s changing. And I want to share with you how it is changing and what you can do to develop the next generation of leaders at your church.
This is Mark Jones and you are listening to Coaching Christian Leaders.
Today we are going to answer an all-important question. And we must know the answer to move forward in our leadership development.
Here’s the question – How do you know if God is in favor of your plans?
Does God support what you are planning?
Let me share with you something that I do. And always when I do it I regret it.
I get a great idea.
I develop a plan.
I identify the resources.
I contact the people.
And I forge ahead.
But I forget to do one thing. And because I forget this, often my plans fall flat.
What do I forget to do? I forget to include the Lord. I forget to seek His help and I forget to commit this plan or this idea to God. And you know what happens? Eventually, nothing, because God has not established these plans.
If you have listened to the first 3 episodes on Leadership Development maybe you have noticed that I have yet to identify a person to train. I have not covered how to select a candidate. That’s on purpose. We are going to lay this whole thing out before we go and identify and recruit trainees.
You see I am taking the Field of Dreams approach.
Maybe you saw the Kevin Costner film where Kevin Costner’s character, a farmer, hears a voice in the cornfields “Build it and they will come.”
And so he does just that. He builds a baseball field.
That’s what I am proposing. We are going to build a leadership development program before we even pick out a candidate to go through the program. We are going to create each step and then we are going to ask God to give us the leaders to train.
But what if we do all this planning and fail to include God in the effort? It’s possible that when the system is finished there will not be a candidate because we did not include God in the planning.
So let’s bring God in now before we get too far down the road.
Open your Bibles to Proverbs 16 and let’s consider the first three verses.
I’ll read from the King James Version initially.
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord. 2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. 3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
Of the three verses, verse one is the most difficult one for me to understand.
The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.
So I read through some commentaries, especially those that are language heavy, but they confused me even more.
I also considered other translations. Here’s the ESV.
The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
Or how about the NIV?
To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.
On and on I studied and finally I selected Pastor John MacArthur Jr.’s understanding of the verse. Here is his note from his Study Bible,
“Human responsibility is always subject to God’s absolute sovereignty.”
Dr. MacArthur’s note seems to square with the majority of others and the other two verses, 2-3, support the idea.
“Human responsibility is always subject to God’s absolute sovereignty.”
The Good News Bible translates the verse with the idea that Dr. MacArthur is teaching.
We may make our plans, but God has the last word
We can make all the plans we want. And we should do so. But always remember, God is ultimately in control, especially when it concerns His church.
Now let’s consider verses 2
2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.
When we plan, according to verse 2, when we develop systems and programs, there is nothing wrong with that, but...we can be deceived. We can even deceive our own selves.
We can with good intention come up with plans and programs that are in conflict with God’s Word.
Maybe we find or develop something that is completely out of step with God and His Word.
Verse 2 teaches that God weighs our ideas. He examines our motives. He determines the truth in our plans.
So if we can even trick our own selves into a less than perfect idea, what can we do?
The answer is in verse three.
3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
Every step of the way, roll out your plan before God. Show it all to God. Commit your work to God and He will establish it. He will fulfill it.
So how do you do that?
First, see if the Bible supports your ideas.
In our project, Leadership Development, we know that God is all for church leadership. The Bible devotes many verses to leadership. The roles of teachers, deacons, and elders come right from God. So we know that developing leaders is something God is for.
This is important in our understanding of God’s will. Many years ago Garry Friesen’s book Decision Making and the Will of God heavily influenced my thinking.
If you’ve read it then you either love Mr. Friesen’s approach or you hate it. I get that. But we can all agree on this. The Bible is the complete understanding of God’s moral will.
So when we develop anything, we must line it up next to Scripture. If what we are creating is in disagreement with the Bible then it is out of God’s will, His moral will.
Scripture then is the first filter.
But what if what you are developing is not addressed in the Bible? Well according to Mr. Friesen then you have the freedom to create it.
Every pastor should read Decision Making and the Will of God. We will call it our first recommended book for this Leadership Development program. If you’ve never read it then there will be a link in the show notes of this episode and a link on my Resources Page at CoachingChristianLeaders.com
So remember what we learned in Proverbs 16.
- Your plans are always subject to God’s absolute sovereignty.
- God is going to weigh out your plans. He will test your motives and look for the truth in them.
- So lay out your planning before God and ask Him for His help and for His blessing.
Whatever you do, don’t do like I have in the past and get months into development before you remember to bring God into the planning. Now is the time to begin to share every idea you have with God. Ask Him to test you and your motives.
At the very end of Proverbs 16 we find this verse.
The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.
I used to paraphrase this verse to my kids when we played Monopoly. I would say to them, “You can shake and blow on those dice all day long but God is the one who determines the numbers. So blame God when you have to go to jail or pay the rent at Park Place.”
As we create our plans and programs make sure God is included. Make certain you remember that He is in control and He will direct your steps.
When you cannot get a biblical understanding of your plans, then go ahead and dream and create. But also ask God to weigh your motives and your methods. Ultimately we want God to bless our efforts.
Thanks so much for listening to Coaching Christian Leaders. I would love it if you would review this podcast. You can do so wherever you listen.
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I will be with you next week.
Decision Making and the Will of God by Garry Friesen