Plans and Purposes That Prevail

“Many are the purposes in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21).

“I didn’t accomplish a single thing I set out to do today!” How many times has our day ended in the agitation of futility? Whether self-discipline brought us up short or outside factors stretched us too far, reality failed to honor our plans again, and we fret in frustration. Sleep comes hard these nights. What if we were to discover execution to be the least of our problems, that it was actually misalignment that rendered today’s to-do list a non-starter from its conception?

Plans follow purpose. This is one reason organizations articulate mission statements—their reason for being: they proclaim a shared sense of purpose to which to subordinate all strategies, objectives and goals toward its fulfillment. Any number of leadership books extol the value of such clarity, but most overlook this indispensable truism: “It is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” We may dutifully conceive our plans and precisely align them with our purposes, but if our rigid list of things to do allows no room for real life, we will needlessly resign ourselves at the end of the day to failure.

Early in my career an organization coach offered this piece of practicality: “When you plan your work day, allow four hours for unanticipated priorities.” Hers proved to be a wonderful, sanity-saving suggestion, for we live and work among others who have needs just as we do, and God’s plans prevail above all. Then doesn’t it make sense to recognize God as our ultimate purpose in life, and to pray for His will as we plan our day? How different would our sense of satisfaction be if were actually to look for Him working all around us and to heed His call to join Him? Might we find an apparent “imposition” to be an “invitation” in disguise? Might we find our purpose in His purpose, and our satisfaction in Him? I think we can plan on it, actually.

Father, every day unfolds under your command. Fill me with your Spirit of wisdom today, that I would submit my plans to your purposes, knowing your purposes are good and they will prevail again today. In Christ I pray. Amen.

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