What does the Bible say about planning?
Planning for your future is a huge priority today. We plan our education, careers, finances, and family. Courses teach us strategic planning for the future, planning apps help us stay on task, and TikTok’s motivational videos inspire us. The ability to plan well is considered critical for accomplishments and success. Planning can be a confusing topic for Christians.
It’s true that planning can create a peaceful, organized life, but placing too much emphasis on it may lead to self-sufficiency. If God suddenly “wrecks” our plans with unexpected circumstances, we might find ourselves undone by our lack of feeling in control.
Does this mean, as some believers suggest, that we shouldn’t plan? Not necessarily. As Christians, planning means prayerfully making our plans, all the while trusting God along the way. It could mean letting go of specific plans because holding too tightly to them could short-change us from the blessings God has for us.
Fortunately, the Bible has a lot to say about planning. So, If you’re curious about trusting God as you plan, here are some Bible verses that may help you.
Christian quotes about planning
“Think amid your plans and anticipations of future gaiety what the redemption of your soul has cost, and how the dying Saviour would wish you to act. His wounds plead that you will live for better things.” Albert Barnes
“In your building planning process, the three foundational elements are: 1. Knowing it is the vision and timing of God to build. 2. Understanding what you need to build, and why. 3. Knowing what you can afford to build and how to pay for it.” Stephen Anderson
Planning for the future Scriptures
So many circumstances in life require us to plan for the future. Without planning, schools couldn’t function, church ministries would be inefficient, and doctors would never be able to provide care. It’s wise to plan and prepare for tomorrow.
For Christians, planning for the future isn’t the issue, but figuring out why and for whom we are making our plans. Is our planning rooted in a need to control every detail of our lives or in making the best use of the time God’s given us? These verses provide a good framework for us as we approach planning for the future.
Whether we’re planning our child’s birthday party or moving to a new location, God wants to be involved in the process. He wants us to bring our ideas, worries, and concerns to him. As we pray and ask for guidance, we glorify him.
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. ( Proverbs 16:3 ESV)
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)
Proverbs 21:5 “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”
Proverbs 20:18 “Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.”
Proverbs 27:23 “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.”
Proverbs 19:2 “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.”
Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”
Matthew 24:44 “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Psalm 90:12 (NASB) “So teach us to number our days, That we may [a]present to You a heart of wisdom.”
How to plan with Jesus in mind?
As believers, we’re called to trust and follow Christ. To grow in our knowledge of Christ, we can
Read His Word, the Bible
- Read His Word, the Bible
- Spend time in prayer
- Have fellowship with other Christians
Because our planning should also involve Christ, we seek his wisdom when we plan life situations, such as
- How we spend our money- Buying or paying off our debts, tithing at our church, giving generously to those in need, and investing.
- How we spend our time- Being willing to serve at our church, helping others, sharing the gospel, and being wise with our free time.
- Who we spend time with- Our friends influence us. It’s important to spend time with other believers who challenge and inspire us in our Christian faith.
- Our jobs and career choices- Asking the Lord for guidance to find work or choose a university.
As we include Christ in these things, we begin to lean not on our thoughts or the world’s ideas but on Christ. Proverbs 3:5 and 6 sum it up like this.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
Colossians 3:1 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.”
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Proverbs 16:2-3 (KJV) “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. 3 Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
What does James say about making plans?
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16 ESV)
James references a wealthy man who is completely confident in his plans. Unbeknownst to him, his life isn’t his own. James wants us to remember the brevity of life and that no one is completely in control over their life. Even our best plans are subject to God. James suggests that when we make plans, we remind ourselves “if the Lord wills.” This depicts a life dependent on God rather than self.
James 4:13-16 “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.”
Strategic planning allows us to focus on God-given resources, skills, or talents. If you’re a great singer and songwriter, it makes sense that some of your planning is focused on how God wants you to use these gifts for his glory. It may mean you consider getting a degree in music or talking to your worship leader at church to see if they need singers. Strategic planning allows you satisfaction knowing you’re doing what you were made to do.
Ephesians 5:15–16 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”
Proverbs 28:19 “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.”
Proverbs 12:5 (NIV) “The plans of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.”
Proverbs 13:4 “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”
Budgeting and planning in the Bible
Financial budgeting and planning help us stay on a good course. The lack of a financial plan leaves us vulnerable, but budgeting helps us.
- Avoid impulsive purchases
- Getting over our heads in debt
- Save money for future needs
- Have the ability to give generously to our church, missionaries, and the poor.
- Keeps us accountable to God and those with whom we share our money
Besides having a financial plan, it’s good to ask ourselves questions before we spend.
- Why do I think I need this?
- Will this item or event serve me or someone else long term? Short term?
- Is this the right time to buy this? Could this purchase be delayed for another time?
- Will buying this prevent me from giving generously to someone in need?
- Is there an emotional need I’m trying to fill by buying this? Am I worried, bored, or feeling depressed?
It’s good to remember that our present situation can change quickly. Financial planning helps offset unexpected financial crisis such as a house fire, medical diagnosis, loss of a job, or a recession. It’s also good to remember that our hearts are drawn to riches and all it promises. Scripture warns us about the fickleness of wealth.
Proverbs 27:24 “for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations?“
Proverbs 23:5 “When your eyes light on it (money) it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.“
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:9-11 NIV)
Proverbs 24:3-4 “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
Proverbs 6:6-8 NIV “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
Luke 12:42 “And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time?”
Proverbs 21:20 (NLT) “The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.”
Luke 14:28-30 “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.”
Proverbs 22:3 “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: But the simple pass on, and are punished.”
The world is a big place. Our lives comprise small moments and normal decisions we often make without much thought. But Scripture tells us that God oversees our big and small decisions. He knows the tiniest detail or the biggest decision of our lives. It’s comforting to know God is a planner. He’s planned the lives of his followers down to the final minute of our lives. Nothing we experience is a surprise to him.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalm 33:11 NIV)
Esther 4:14 (NASB) “For if you keep silent at this time, liberation and rescue will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”
Romans 8:28 (KJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Matthew 6:27 “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Proverbs 16:3-4 “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. 4 The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”
Proverbs 19:21 “Many plans are in a person’s heart, But the advice of the Lord will stand.”
Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.”
The importance of community in planning
As Christians, we need other believers to help us in our faith journey. Regularly meeting with our church family allows us to hear the preaching of God’s word and have fellowship.
These friendships help us in our faith journey. As we make plans, our community of Christian friends provides checks and balances for us. As we build trust with other believers, it allows us to bounce our ideas off one another and get feedback for decisions we’re considering. Having community in our planning keeps us from making bad decisions that we later regret. Those who know us best can speak into our lives in an honest, loving way, preventing us from making bad decisions or encouraging us to make good decisions.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.“
Romans 12:4–5 “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
Proverbs 15:22 (NKJV) “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.”
Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”
Proverbs 11:14 “For lack of guidance, a nation falls, but with many counselors comes deliverance.”
Proverbs 20:18 “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.”
1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”
Of course, planning isn’t something new. Even in Bible times, people made plans. Here are a few examples of people in the Bible who made plans.
Moses was called by God to lead his people out of Egypt. After he rescued the Israelites from slavery and into the desert heading toward the promised land, he realized he couldn’t do it alone. His father-in-law suggested that he make a plan to enlist the help of others to take on some of the leadership roles.
Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all of Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
(Exodus 18:24-26 NIV)
Later, Moses made a plan to appoint Joshua to be the next leader of the Israelites.
Nehemiah prayerfully made plans to reconstruct the walls of Jerusalem. He calculated the cost and appointed leaders to help build each wall section. Nehemiah 2-3
Joshua inherited the leadership role from Moses. He followed Moses’ example by making plans to overthrow kings and kingdoms. When the Israelites ran into problems, he found ways to overcome obstacles.
Paul was an example of someone in the New Testament who made plans especially related to his missionary journeys. He planned who would go with him and the route they would take to visit young churches.
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” (Acts 15:36 NIV)
Planning can bring peace and order to our lives. However, holding too tightly to our plans can cause us to feel overwhelmed and out of control, especially if unexpected situations occur. Our goal should be to plan our lives prayerfully, trusting God to lead and guide us. Proverbs 16:9 sums up how, as Christians, we make plans while being aware that God establishes our steps. Let’s continue to make plans in our lives and trust God along the way.
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.(Proverbs 16:9 ESV)