The Balance Between Faith and Planning Ahead

Planning

A question came in awhile back from a reader who asked the following: “Should we embark on a project without first counting the total costs and later believing that God will provide?”

Two very powerful verses came to mind almost immediately, which I think will help in answering this question fully.

The first is found in Luke 14:28-30 (NLT):

But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’

The second is found in Hebrews 11:1 (NIV):

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Where’s the line between having faith and planning ahead?

Jesus made some very clear points in these three short verses recorded in Luke. He was explaining that being a follower of Christ takes commitment and there are costs that must be considered. He uses an example of constructing a building because the people could relate with the significance that planning has in the building process.

But the question that begs to be asked is that where does faith come in if we simply make every decision a calculated decision? If we have to plan every step, are we not exercising the faith we read about in Hebrews 11:1?

The important thing to understand is that verse one of Hebrews leads into the Hall of Faith, highlighting the spiritual giants who lived a life of faith.

• Their hope was placed on greater things – not of the things in this world.

• Their certainty was founded in the faithfulness of God, not the provisions of this world.

Yes, we depend on God to provide for all our needs, but that doesn’t mean that we are exempt from planning ahead. In fact, it is foolish not to plan.

Proverbs 21:5 (NIV) says:

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.

How do you mix faith and planning ahead?

I think one of the greatest ways to exercise our faith is to prepare the best that we can before embarking on a new goal or idea. Moving forward with blind faith is a dangerous habit and can even be an excuse for laziness in planning. Understanding the costs to a project will allow you to make the very best of what you’ve been given. This will build your faith even stronger as you approach God knowing that you’ve been a diligent steward of the resources He’s provided.

What are your thoughts? How should we balance having faith and planning ahead?

This article was originally published on FaithandFinance.org.













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17 Comments
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  1. I love the concept from Luke 14:28 so much I made it the domain name for my blog! :) The Bible clearly speaks in multiple places about planning ahead. When it does (as in these verses), the implication is clearly evident that planning ahead is wise. I think it’s part of being a good steward of what God has given us. The balance comes in the recognition and trust that God is still in control of the future (see James 4:13-16).

  2. Michele

    I would agree that the Bible gives us plenty of examples of wise men who planned ahead. The Proverbs are full of directives to help us plan our lives. The Proverbs 31 women laughed at the days ahead because she was well prepared, as was her family, because of her diligence. From what I can see, planning is part of stewardship, like the other comment said, of trying to make much of what God has given to us.

    I think faith comes into play when we cannot see the road ahead, or when our plans go awry. Certainly, not everything that we plan out goes “as planned.” And some things come into our lives regardless of our plans. Sometimes we have plans, like to marry or have children or have health,, but they are not part of God’s plan. Here, we must learn to trust The Lord regardless of what we thought would happen. And believe that God’s ways are higher than ours .

    I am reminded of two things.
    . One a quote, Steinbek’s “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

    And the other a scripture verse, Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his way, but the
    Lord orders his steps.

    In short, it appears that both are required. It takes wisdom to know when to apply which principle. Thankfully, for those who are in The Lord, the ending of the story is already written. Someday faith and plans will bow to the Lordship of Jesus.

  3. Joseph Copeland

    Just a personal thought, but I would think that hearing an instruction from God would be the very first point to consider. If he has shown us something that He wants us to do, then the outcome will surely be valuable and good. It is then that we can plan, learn and prepare as well as be creative in our approaches. There is freedom in Christ Jesus and part of the fun is in seeing how he can make things turn out right as long as it is based on what he wants done.

  4. Cherie

    I have Christian clients that sometimes don’t prepare enough for emergencies and future expected expenses because they believe God will provide. I believe that He will in some form, but I am reminded of this quote:

    “God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.”
    J. G. Holland,

    We do need to labor and be stewards.

  5. Felix Dlamini

    I believe the balancing act is vital as stated in the article. However, may I ask that is God obligated by my faith to rescue me if I have not been a good steward in my finances?

  6. We humans sometimes forget that we have a great God who will provide us with our daily needs We loose our sense of history

  7. What a great question. First thought that came to mind was the old quote to pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on you. I do think balance is important in these questions. Sometimes stepping out in faith on something means exactly doing something that makes no earthly sense. A good plan should have options in case things don’t work out. stepping out in faith often means that if God doesn’t come through there is no plan B. At the same time I think God has given us all brains and at least some measure of common sense and he expects us to use those as well.

    I think the real key is just being very sensitive to what the Spirit is telling us and that is often not easy. I think too many times “following God” really means doing what we kind of wanted to do anyway and hoping God comes through. That isn’t faith. But if we are as sure as we can be that God is saying to do something, regardless of how illogical that “plan” may be, then we do need to do it, or we may miss out on something really special. Differentiating those can be real hard though.

  8. Work like it depends on you, pray like like it depends on God

  9. Kristina

    I hear many preppers around me say God wants us to prepare for what’s to come (famines, economic collapse, etc.), but Jesus Himself said to give no thought to tomorrow, what you will eat or wear. So my firm belief is if He wants me to eat, He’ll send food (as Native Americans believe about animals sacrificing themselves, or the story of the nation of Israel and the Lord providing manna), and if He wants me drink, He’ll send rain.

  10. This is a concept that I always struggle with. I feel that God has given me an abundance of provision. My challenge is I want to sew the money into His kingdom but my wife is handicapped and I know I have to set money aside for our future.

  11. This is probably the best description of our Christian duty between planning and faith that I have ever read. Yes, we should “count the costs” or as we say in our little family of 2 (hubby and me): “make a list!” Then when we have done that and STAY with that list, God does provide not only tangible things but the untangible (things like a confirmation in our spirit that we are on the right track). I could make a very long comment here about all the ways the Lord has blessed us and surprised us! Just take my word here: He has. :)

  12. Thanks for sharing the article, I think both go together, we plan because we live in this world and there are basic laws in living as human beings, just as Jesus operated as a human being on earth, but His walk was different because He walked in the direction God led Him. I think we need to prayerfully plan and ask God for His plan for us to follow. We will also believe in God for the supernatural intervention based on the anointing of God that will bring us sound wisdom and open our eyes to the things we will not ordinarily see and do. Jer 33:3- “Call to me and I will answer you I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.” I think we should step out in faith by planning and taking action but depend on God alone to achieve the financial goals we have and not our plans or anything else.

  13. Wonderful article! This is exactly what a reader should be able to find on this site. Moreover, this would be great to have as a static highlighted article on the homepage.

    As a Qualified Kingdom Advisor this article simply made me mile. It did so as it encapsulated just how in fact a Biblically-based financial advisor such as myself works to provide peace of mind for my clients.

    “The mind of the man plans his path, but The Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

    The verse brings into vision just how do we both plan yet lean upon The Lord with strong faith at the same time. In short, we short all plan as their are strong cases for doing so in the Bible. We should however not plan using only our own devices. Every financial decision should be a spiritual one. When planning and ultimately making important decisions be sure to first pray for wisdom and discernment and be very specific. Sometimes what me and my clients thought was the right path proved otherwise just waiting upon The Lord.

    Wonderful article! You all do such a great job!

  14. CM Pa Zed

    Planning is indeed a very important component. I tend to think that when you plan and set out your goals it easier to be target specific in your prayers. But be wary over planning does not help. So make a plan, pray about it, have faith and go for it!!

  15. Yes, it’s all about having a plan and not holding on to it too tightly. I called it open-handed planning. Great post.

  16. Olivia

    Faith must be in something. We can base our decisions on the promises of the Word (understood in the context the original author’s intent) with confidence God will not be unfaithful to His promises. Will God provide for all our needs, knowing about them before we ask? Yes. Will God provide for us to continue living in a house we have bought without counting the cost, and prevent the foreclosure we have set ourselves up for? Maybe, but He hasn’t made that specific promise, so it isn’t faith to say that that situation will “work out.”

  17. Busola

    If we are indeed children of the God who knows the end from the beginning, then planning is an absolute necessity and should come to us naturally. However I’ve come across Christians who use faith as an excuse for laziness, conveniently quoting that part of the Bible where Jesus paid taxes with the coin from the mouth of a fish rather than from his bank account and forgetting that it had always been part of his plan from the beginning. Having said this however,. I strongly believe that it is only those plans that we commit to God’s hands that will succeed. The balance may be hard alright, I always plan whenever possible and trust God for success.

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