Bill Walsh, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was thought eccentric because of how extensively he planned his plays before each game. Most coaches would wait to see how the game unfolded, then respond with plays that seemed appropriate. Walsh wanted the game to react to him.
Walsh won a lot of Super Bowls with his “eccentric” proactive approach. He was a coach that looked into the future in advance.
The wisest person of all instructed, “The wise man looks ahead” (Prov. 14:8 LB).
Planning is the process of creating your organizational future before it happens. Like Bill Walsh, it is creating your actions in advance so that your life will respond to you. It is attempting to write history in advance.
Planning gives direction. It’s like using a highlighter on a roadmap that indicates where you are, where you are going, and how you are going to get there. The roadmap not only provides information for where you are going; it also suggests where you are not going. Planned abandonment—what you must not do—is just as important as planned adventure—what you will do. Churches, organizations, and ministries do not have the time, resources, and personnel to do everything. (God does not expect individuals or groups, including churches, to be all things to all people.) Planning helps one determine the few things that are worth doing, and worth doing well. One of the best benefits of creatively planning is that it allows you to simplify. It enables you to repack your bags, lighten your load, take the essentials for your journey.
Planning helps you to create rather than react. Planning allows you the opportunity to create your actions in advance so that life will respond to you. At all times in your life, you are either creating or reacting. Each step along your journey you are faced with a choice either to create or to respond. Many people spend their entire days reacting. Like goalies in a hockey game, with pucks flying at you all day, you respond. You react to news, cars in traffic, people, events, challenges, and obstacles. But there’s a better way to live. It involves making choices and following plans. It consists of choosing to create. You create by planning, forecasting, and looking ahead.
Planning saves time. A favorite quote of mine is: “One hour of planning saves three hours of execution.” Planning provides a time savings return. It provides me with a marvelous return on my investment. I only have twenty-four hours in a day and 365 days in a year. If I don’t use them wisely by looking ahead, I will forever forfeit those gifts.
Planning allows you to build on your strengths. Effective leaders determine what the organization can do best and then does it. An expanded structure is built on strengths, not on weaknesses. The best resources—time, money, and personnel—is assigned to the opportunities that build on the strengths.
Planning reduces crisis. Your life has two controlling influences: plans or pressures. When you choose to plan, you take charge and control of your days. If you fail to look ahead, you will spend your days in crisis mode. You will fall into the trap of “panic planning.”
Planning gives energy. Failing to focus, you dissipate your energy on less important matters, improper agendas, and lost crusades. You become a dabbler, wasting your power on the trivial many. Much activity exists, but little productivity. On the other hand, when your look is focused, concentrated on the vital few, you are renewed, revitalized, and remade.
Planning is a spiritual experience. Looking ahead cannot be done without the power of prayer. As your eyes engage the plan, allow your heart to join the Heavenly Father. Planning means praying together. It reminds me of the promise of God, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst” (Matt. 18:20 NASB). Without Christ, you can do nothing. Without him, you begin at no beginning, and you work to no end. So join Christ. Find out what he is doing in the world, and go with him.