Always Have a Plan, Never Trust It

The path of wisdom is filled with tension. Wisdom often appears to be in contradiction with herself. A clear example of this is seen in Proverbs 26:4-5. It reads,

“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”


Many of Jesus’ teachings are filled with this tension as well. One moment He tells His disciples, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works” (Matthew 5:16) and the next, “beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them” (6:1). Or, “Honor your father and mother” (19:19) and “hate your father and mother” (Luke 14:26).

We shouldn’t be surprised to find this tension when it comes to what Scriptures say about planning. Proverbs 21:5 appears to praise diligent planning whereas James 4:13-17 appears to cast it in a negative light.

So, which is it? Do we plan or do we trust God? The answer is Yes.

We can see this tension played out in the Apostle Paul’s life. He was a man with a mission. He had made it his ambition to preach the Gospel in places it hadn’t yet reached (Romans 15:20). He had been set apart by the Holy Spirit and his community for this very thing (Acts 13:1-3).

He didn’t just sit around waiting for it to happen. He used the best of the knowledge and wisdom he had at the time to make a plan.

We read in Acts 16:7 that this plan included bringing the gospel to the province of Bithynia. However, something interesting happened: Jesus stood in the way of the plan and didn’t “allow them” to enter. So, they went down to Troas where one night, Paul received the “new plan” from Jesus in a dream.

What I learn from this is that Paul was a planner, and it was a good thing that he was. Often his plans resulted in the power of the gospel being unleashed in new areas. However, though he had a plan, he didn’t seem to trust it. He was open and able to discern whenever the Lord was saying, “change of plans, Paul!”

My goal as a worship leader is to always have a plan, but never trust it. I’m fairly clear of what God has called me to do but in many ways, it’s up to me to figure out how I’m going to do it. However, as I make and execute my plan I need to keep my eyes on Jesus and not the plan. My heart needs to be in a posture that allows me to readily respond to any changes to the plan that He initiates.

One of the areas this plays itself out week after week is in the rehearsing and executing of our worship service on Sunday mornings. I believe it’s my responsibility to prepare and provide a solid plan for my worship team when we gather for rehearsals during the week. However, I try to do so with a listening ear because God might want to alter my plan through the ideas and impressions of my team members.

Then, when Sunday rolls around, I try to lead in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to redirect the plan in the moment. This can come from an impression I feel, something one of my musicians or singers does, a prompting from a staff member or from the congregation.

I admit, the “always have a plan” part is easy for me whereas the “never trust it” part can be a challenge.  I’m convinced, though, that there’s no other way to lead.

What about you? Which side of this tension do you feel you need to grow in?

If you’re interested in growing in your ability to be redirected in the moment without a trainwreck occuring, read  “What Jason Bourne Taught Me About Worship Leading” for ideas.

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