Proverbs 16:3 is a proverb for anything and it is so outlandish and broad that it is wonderfully difficult to fully embrace:
" Commit to the LORD whatever you do,
and your plans will succeed."
At first, this looks like a "get out of jail free " ticket for all sorts of ridiculous pursuits. One might ask, "Well, suppose I want to rob a bank? Will God help me be successful in that?"
You might be successful and it might be because you pervert some eternal principles to your own selfish and destructive ends, but that is not what is promised here. One must balance the counsel with the whole counsel of scripture while taking such a simple word at face value.
"Commit to the Lord." - That presupposes a full, not a partial commitment. It is the sort of commitment that changes and refines our plans. Balance and inform this with the two proverbs that come before:
"1 To man belong the plans of the heart,
but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue."
"2 All a man's ways seem innocent to him,
but motives are weighed by the LORD. "
This process of committing begins with the planning process. It starts with our thinking. It introduces creative transformation and profound spiritual insight into the realm of our strategic development.
This time to start committing is when we start dreaming and scheming. Then, God can shape our dreams, goals, and plans.
We tend to be naive. We know not our own hearts. But God knows and He has a dream to plant in each of our hearts. It is not His intention for us to go through life spinning our wheels and never accomplishing anything. He wants us to succeed in the ways that He defines success.
That means "whatever."
Some key words inform us and instruct us:
Commit - To fully commit is to place something in the hands of another, but it is also to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the dream and the tasks that make the dream come true. When we commit our lives to Jesus Christ, we place them in His hands and He places a mission in ours. It is likewise true of our plans and goals. Would you characterize yourself as a committed person or are you more casual about your objectives? Commitment is a key element in any successful person's formula for accomplishment.
The Lord - By His very Name and nature He is qualified to manage all of our contingencies. He is the Center of all things. It would be a serious insult and utter stupidity to say, "Lord, you can be Lord of my soul, but I'll take care of my business." Vance Havner said, "He is Lord of All or He isn't Lord at all." Consider what lordship means in your life and how serious you are about having a center that holds all things together.
Whatever - Whatever you do is an all-encompassing concept. Make a list of as many tasks, concerns, goals, and objectives you have in as many dimensions of life as you can think of. Begin to bring these before God. Don't try to be systematic or compartmentalized in this exercise. Just free associate.
Do - Action builds results, not endless analysis. Strategy that does not "get done" brings no fruit. Great ideas do not produce wealth or success. Acting on great ideas does.
Plans - Some well meaning people believe that planning is nonspiritual. They are wrong. Not planning to succeed is equal to planning to fail. Plans do not guarantee instant success, but well thought out and prayed over plans, over the long haul, allowing for set-backs, risks, and failures, will bring ultimate success. The difference in nonspiritual planning and the kinds that brings success is the spiritual dimension we enter through commitment and prayer.
Succeed - We must redefine success and a process toward an ultimate, worthy dream. Earl Nightingale defined success as "the progressive realization of a worthwhile ideal." The road to success is paved with the cobblestones of failure and heaps of heartache, but if one is committed to the Lord and to the mission/dream, movement toward success is inevitable if we leave the final evaluation of our lives to God.