Reflecting on the relationship between planning and implementing our work and the sovereignty of God over the affairs of humanity provided a framework for my daily reading in the Proverbs.
Proverbs 16 does not discourage planning; but it does make a case for holding everything with an open hand, tentatively, humbly, and with a comfortable tolerance for flexibility.
Plans are in the heart, verse 1 says, but there is some distance between the heart and the tongue and God has something to say about the final product. Start with the heart and let things gel. Think before you speak. Better still, think and pray. Margins are a necessity in business and in life.
Verse 2 ( Look these up) reminds us that no matter how innocent we believe our choices are, only God knows and can evaluate our motives or anyone else's. Lesson for business and life: Don't try to pass judgment on other people's motives. Deal with what you can know, what is before you.
Verse 3 is helpful. We can plan and strategize to our hearts content, but only when we commit our plans to God is success within view - real success, the kind defined by verse 4 - namely God working everhything out for His purposes.
The question implied there is, "Am I in or out of this deal? Either way, He will succeed."
Again, verse 9 mandates flexibility and verse 33 calls for humility. In the midst of it all, though, we are not to be passive because, along with flexibility and humility, real success require industry, otherwise known as a work ethic. The laborer is moved forward, prodded, and impassioned by his own hunger.
For a good treatment of work ethic see the article on Labor Day in the Faith at Work blog. Mike McLoughlin is reading our preacher mail when he indicts us for our silence on the dignity of work.
The bible is not silent here. Why should we be?
Proverbs 16 oozes the sentiment that God has the final word on everything, but that is no excuse not to plan, consider, commit, and work with integrity, humility, and flexibility.