Don’t Leave God Out of Your Plans

I have written much about planning and goal setting. It would be easy to get the idea that if you just plan well enough or persist long enough you will succeed. Frankly, I don’t think this is enough.

Hands holding a new plant against blue sky - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/arekmalang, Image #1977424

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/arekmalang

I was reminded again this morning of a Bible verse that has become very important to me in recent years:

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Ultimately, we cannot do anything of lasting value unless God blesses our work. The Apostle Paul reminds the believers at Corinth:

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

This statement doesn’t diminish the work of Paul or of Apollos. If you have read anything about either of their lives, you know that both men possessed incredible faith and courage. They worked hard. They endured setbacks without losing heart. But, at the end of the day, they also knew that it was all in vain unless God “gave the increase.”

No one knows this better than a farmer. The farmer can till and fertilize the soil. He can plant the seed. He can chase off varmints. He can spray for bugs. He can even irrigate his fields. But he can’t make it rain. Nor can he restrain the winds, the lightening, or the hail. At the end of the day, whether he acknowledges it or not, he is dependent on God for a successful harvest.

This is true in any endeavor. This has at least three implications for today’s success-oriented leaders:

  1. Stay humble. The Bible says “pride goes before a fall” (see Proverbs 16:18). Just when you think you have it figured out, things change. To remain successful, you have to keep adopting the posture of a beginner. I like the prayer, “Lord, forgive me, a beginner.”
  2. Trust God. If you don’t need God to pull off what you are planning, you are not dreaming big enough. In case you are wondering, no, you are not smart enough. No, you don’t have enough experience. and, no, you don’t have enough resources. But with God, all things are possible (see Mark 10:27).
  3. Work hard. Too often, people want to exercise faith in lieu of real work. But these should never be pitted against one another (see James 2:14–18). They go hand in hand. Trust God and then work your buns off.

This sounds pretty simple, right? The problem is in living it out.

Many people do #1 and #3 pretty well. But it is #2 that we can forget if we are not careful. I believe that man was created to be in a relationship with God. This is the real purpose of life. If success serves that purpose, great. But if it causes us to forget God and act as if he doesn’t exist, then, in his love for us, he is quick to remind us how finite our own resources are and how much we need him.

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  • Tony Jacobs

    Good stuff, Mike!

  • http://www.timothyfish.net Timothy Fish

    I especially like #2. “If you don’t need God to pull off what you are planning, you are not dreaming big enough.” We normally take the attitude that we’ll do what we can, but sometimes we run into things that only God can handle. This statement turns it around so that we are looking for the situations that only God can handle.

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    A great reminder, Mike! What I see the lack of most often around me is humility. None of us have accomplished anything without God’s hand in it, yet I see people getting more and more puffed up by successes they might have had.

    I LOVE your trust God comment! I clearly need to dream bigger. LOL Thanks for the shot in the arm today!

  • Douglas Schultz

    Very well said. I really like the idea behind number 2 of big dreams. We can never dream bigger than God!! Thanks for reminding me of these promises.
    Doug

  • http://emuelle1.blogspot.com Eric S. Mueller

    Amen, Michael. I’ve struggled a lot lately about where the line falls between setting goals and letting God provide the increase. I still haven’t figured it out, and I don’t know if I ever will, but I try not to forget.

  • http://www.myayo.com/2008/02/no-dejes-a-dios.html Adventist Youth Online

    No dejes a Dios fuera de tus planes

    Este articulo lo tomé de la pagina de uno de las personas que sigo en mi lector de noticias/RSS. El siempre tiene cosas interesantes que decir acerca del éxito y como seguir adelante. Su nombre es Michale S. Hyatt, él

  • A Beginner

    I haven’t been getting your newsletter very long, but today struck me. I am fresh out of college working at my first “real job.” I can’t count how many times I’ve thought, “I don’t have enough experience,” or “how in the world am I going to turn this into a success,” but I really think you nailed it on the head when you wrote:

    “In case you are wondering, no, you are not smart enough. No, you don’t have enough experience. and, no, you don’t have enough resources.”

    God is REALLY big – bigger than any of the problems we face at work, no matter how big they seem. Learning to trust Him in a work setting is a lot like starting a new relationship with Him. It is a relationship, however, I know I couldn’t have survived up to this point without.

  • http://berlysue.blogspot.com Kim

    Michael,
    This is a wonderful, timely message! I have to sit in the a-men corner on #2 though. Trusting Him when the way seems impossible…that’s often where I give up or jump ahead with another plan. I pray we all learn to trust Him completely and be obedient to where He is leading each of us!

  • David

    Mike,

    #2 reminds me of a message I once heard from Andy Stanley: What are you praying for that is so big that the only way it can happen is if God intervenes? God wants us to pray big, then trust Him. Thanks for jogging my memory this morning, I think I must have needed it!

  • Natalie Hanemann

    In the Catholic tradition, we have a prayer that really helps me stay humble. We call it “the Jesus prayer.” It says:
    Jesus, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.
    Thanks for a great post, Mike.

  • Kim

    Thank you for the reminding us that it’s a leaning back into Him and a moving forward at the same time (rest=trust)! Dreaming with God is such an adventure. It’s one of my favorite things to do. -Blessings

  • http://www.buildingchampions.com Dan Meub

    This is a great post and is so true. If we truly want to honor God in everything we do then we need to actively seek His direction in all we do. We are such creatures of habit that unless we insert a discipline to do this, it is hard to keep spun up. For me, I’ve adopted a very simple behavior “everything starts with prayer”. The more I do it, the more it becomes a habit.

  • Gary Davidson

    Thank you, Mike. We need to be reminded of this on a regular basis. God’s blessing will be the reason for our ultimate success and when we have success we can give him all the glory.

    God Bless us,

    Gary

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary E. DeMuth

    The trust part is hard, particularly for freelance authors trying to earn a living. Money comes in fits and spurts. I firmly believe being a missionary prepared me to be a writer in that regard.

  • MM

    Hi Mike-

    I agree with the others… great and timely post. I think I’m someone who struggles with #2 a lot. I tend to lean on God and give Him my cares only to turn right around and take them back. Pray that I can become more mature in my relationship with Christ and not be guilty of what is described in James 1:6-8.

  • Misty

    Great post. :) Very encouraging.

  • Bill

    A wise man once told me, “Pray” like it depends on God. “Work” like it depends on you. Great reminder’s MIke. Thanks.

  • Don F.

    “The Lord delights in doing abundantly more than we can ever ask or imagine in us and through us.”

  • http://www.studiosmith.blogspot.com Barry A. Smith

    Thanks Michael. I can never be reminded too much about this and I appreciate this encouragement.

  • Temitayo Favour Nicole Ajobo

    The scripture says “trust in the lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding aknowledge him in all your ways and he shall direct your path” and faith without works is dead”. since the bible encourages us to trust God and to work hard and the lord lifts the humble. We should trust God’s words for our lives and he would bring his promises to pass.

    We will plant and water we will labour with the master God will give the increase and we will multiply

  • Brittany

    Thanks for the post Mike. I too tend to forget that the Lord’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and that his ways are higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9). With him, what can be accomplished is far greater than we could ever dream. I was reminded of this in yesterday’s 3:16 meeting; who could have possibly known what all the Lord had in store for that project?

  • http://www.rachelhauck.com Rachel Hauck

    Mike, what a great post. So clearly said with such truth. I’ve been meditating on this recently, working to align my heart with this reality.

    Remember when David sinned by counting the people and God gave him a choice of punishments. David chose to give himself and the people into God’s hands because of His great mercy.

    I think that’s what I want for my life. God is so loving and merciful, how can I not trust Him with my life and well being? Rather trust in myself and my weaknesses? No! Or trust in “man?” No.

    We fair so much better if we trust it ALL to Him but it’s a faith walk and not always easy. However, a very worthy preoccupation.

    Blessings to you.

    Rachel

  • http://www.shirleybuxton.wordpress.com Shirley Buxton

    God help me to lay down my hammer, and throw away my own plans…let the Master builder take His rightful place in my life.

    Thank you.

    Shirley Buxton
    http://www.shirleybuxton.wordpress.com

  • http://elmalakrx.com/blog Mamdouh Ezz

    I totally agree with you.

    However, I think that Western cultures tend to rely on one’s abilities and potentials a lot more than they do on God’s help and his will.

    Whereas, we Middle Easterns do the exact opposite!

    But, I personally think that there should be a middle zone, where you do your best and work hard and still count on God and trust in him.

    Mamdouh
    El Malak Pharmacy Blog
    http://elmalakrx.com/blog

  • Bill

    God and I have taken a vow of silence toward one another. We do not talk. If something difficult must be accomplished, I work hard and smart until it is accomplished. We smile at each other, but only because we are both incurable optimists. God never tells me which part It accomplished, and which part I accomplished. Probably because it does not matter.

  • http://behindthemoutainmovie.blogspot.com/ Chera Federle

    Amen. Sometimes we just need to let go and let God, don’t we? If we say we love him, we must follow him. Following him is trusting him unto all things in our lives. A wonderful post to start my day with. Thank you.

  • http://www.sheeptotheright.com Carol Hatcher

    I love this post. How true! A verse that the Lord laid on my heart is this: Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.Proverbs 19:21 I’m a big time planner. So remembering that God’s plans are more important than mine is a must! Thanks!

  • http://championyourdreams.blogspot.com/ Lauren at Faith Fuel

    Interesting that I’m hearing this message, again, after reading this morning something along the same lines. “Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain”(Zech 10:1)- in other words, it’s Spring time, and everyone knows it rains in the Spring. Of course it will rain in this season. Why bother asking God for rain in the Spring time. But you’re saying what I heard the Lord saying to my heart this morning-
    “Ask me for the increase. Ask me for the blessing and the favor- even if, and especially if, you think you already have natural circumstances in your favor.” And then how much more should we ask Him and trust Him for blessing our work when we DON’T see any circumstantial support of our dream?! It is then that He delights to show up….and show up big time.

  • Mike

    “unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

    This quote is very important to me. As an entrepreneur, it reminds me of the reasons why being honest and ethical is better.

    Unethical practices and shady dealings would take up much energy, create unneccessary stress, paranoia, and guilt.

    Dishonesty is incredibly stressful on the mind. It’s been proven. Just act honestly!

    A great example of how personal success and following the Bible are aligned. If you build an honest living according to God’s blueprints, it will bring personal success. Even financial failure would produce growth and a lesson to learn from. I think God can help you cut through the uncertaintiy and be strong when you take the risk.

    And in line with what Carol said above me…once you start picking up the momentum, God doesn’t need to let go of the bicycle seat. Success will beget success.

  • http://www.theacomplia.com Acomplia

    Lovely post. Please add my email address to your list and email me the updates if possible. I always like to read your blog and comment on it.

  • http://sacramentoelectrician.biz/ Sacramento Electrician

    I think its perfect. But my opinion is still you need to think on your comment.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/patriciazell patriciazell

    My dream is probably one of the biggest dreams ever (and I am not alone in this dream): I'm working towards being part of the generation that experiences death being swallowed up in victory at the return of Jesus Christ.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/wisdomcalls wisdomcalls

    I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I have been meditating on the verse. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. I am not going to focus on building my kingdom. I am going to work, while focusing on building His kingdom. He is the Lord of the Harvest. A couple other verses are especially relevant to me. Consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, they do not toil or worry, but they are clothed more finely than Solomon in all of his splendor. Also, "I am the vine, you are the branches apart from me you can do nothing." And again He says, "Abide in me." These verses have been my mediation, and the Lord is definitely causing my business to boom as I place my priorities on Him and focus my eyes on His work. Thanks for the great post, Michael. I'm proud to see someone in your position give "props" to God for His essential role in our success. Besides, none of the material gains (no matter how large) can bring fulfillment or true success. Achievement, perhaps, but not success. True success is knowing the One by whom and for whom we were made through the work of Jesus the Messiah who took away our sins.

  • http://www.leadingisreading.blogspot.com James Castellano

    I have been teaching, work like it depends on you, pray like it depends on God, and get after it with passion!
    Adding the stay humble part makes it complete, great post!

    My recent post

  • http://twitter.com/ministrygeek @ministrygeek

    We must fit our lives into His plan, not ask God to bless what our limited minds can conceive.

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  • path4ward

    Thanks for re-posting. It was fresh for me. And, perfectly timed. But God knew that!

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  • http://twitter.com/MainlineMom @MainlineMom

    Great post. I love the line "if you don't need God…you're not dreaming big enough." I keep trying to remember that, and to convince my husband of that as well.

    • http://www.robertkennedy3.com/ Robert Kennedy III

      Awe MAN this is an awesome quote. I LOVE it!! I’m going to print that out and post it!!

  • buytupperwarebangalore

    Hi Started following you on Twitter and have now come here….because of the line you used in one of your tweets namely "DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE GOD OUT OF YOUR PLANS". I too have just published my first book titled MasterMind where I have used this line. It had such a profound effect on me when I first read it that it came pretty much naturally to me to use in in my book too….especially as I subscribe to the theory too. I feel so honoured when he(God) selected me to do his work…i.e. spread his word. I was inspired by Wallace D. Wattles and Napoleon Hill and my book was a culmination thereof. I would be honoured if you took the trouble to read my book too and then left me a little note telling me how you found the book…and I say this in all humility that my book is brilliant as I've had a lifelong love affair with words and the english language having been a reader all my life. I feel blessed as He opens the door to me to connect with good people who think like me the world over. Its like a human chain of goodness being built on twitter which encircles the globe.

  • http://jennyrain.com JennyRain

    Love this. Keep running into the Appolos scripture this week. Thanks Michael!

  • Marsha

    Love your blog. I would love to see a higher profile of your most important job-a Deacon in the holy Orthodox Church! I know that it must be the center of your life, and we need to showcase the” best kept secret in America-Orthodoxy”! You are a great witness to our faith. God Bless you, Deacon Michael!

  • http://myplacebythesea.blogspot.com/ MaryC

    Thank you for reposting this. It was exactly what I needed to read today.

  • http://twitter.com/robbdempsey robbdempsey

    Like others have commented words meant for today as much as when they were written. Thanks for re-posting.

  • Anonymous

    excellent!

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  • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

    Well said, Mike. #2 is essential to living a life full of meaning and purpose beyond my own flippant wants and desires.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jeff. I sometimes write these things just to remind myself.

      • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

        Ah, yes. I write for many of the same reasons.

  • http://markjmartin.com Mark Martin

    Thanks for re-sharing this today.  I needed the encouraging words.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Me, too. :-)

  • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for directing me to this blog. It was very helpful for me so thanks. Interestingly… it was not a very popular blog compared to many others?

    I guess in our hearts we have this desire to do it all on our own, to prove ourselves. Thanks for writing and blogging in such a balanced way. I am learning a lot.

    Geoff

  • Drusilla Mott

    Michael, I really like this post.  I learned years ago that I needed to make sure God was LEADING my plans…every time I said I would NOT do something, I ended up HAVING to do it.   And if I figured I would do something on my own, that was what did not work out.  I now look back and have to laugh at myself; very glad He has a sense of humor.  :-)

  • BethMcKamy

    God reminds me everyday of how I have to trust Him to accomplish anything in my life. The doors God has opened for me this year have His hand print all over them, and those doors were doors I could not have walked through without Him.

    Just this past week, here in Texas, but personally here in my small town in NE Texas, we have found that we can’t handle things without God’s abundant help. We can put out fire after fire, help our neighbors, grieve for those we lost, but only God can provide the miracle of rain that we need.

    I can’t explain why God has given me the opportunities that have come to me in the last year, but I do know I can do nothing without His help. I have never felt so inadequate in my abilities,  but yet at the same time seen His faithfulness and sufficiency.

    Thanks Michael, I could be reminded of these three things everyday and it wouldn’t be enough!

  • http://twitter.com/MicheleBarnett Michele Barnett

    I once asked a mentor of mine, “How do I know if God is blessing my plans or not?” His wise response: “Perhaps you should start out by asking Him if you can be a part of His plan instead of asking Him to be a part of yours.” Yep, that one stuck with me.

  • http://twitter.com/RandyCantrell Randy Cantrell

    Wise advice.

    MATT 6:24-34 (ASV) “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

  • Izhai_12

    Thank you, God Bless You with more wisdom.

  • Agatha Nolen

    Yes, #2 is the most important and the hardest. Trusting God only comes with time. When you first begin a dialogue with God and then He keeps coming through and coming through–maybe not how you have asked, but He does already come through connecting the dots years later. Once you see that over and over again, it is freeing to just give up control and “Let God”.

  • Chris Mapp

    This is my first time see your work and it was brought to me through a fellow buisness contact whom I have never met but we share the common link of Dave Ramsey Entreleadership San Antonio Texas event. I have never been so blessed to meet these like minded buisness owners that share people and thoughts that are so pertinent and that reinforce what many of us beleive and hold close.
    Thank you
    Chris Mapp
    Port O’Connor, Texas

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  • Amy von Borstel

    The Lord knew I needed to read this. I’m currently working on an eBook about prayer. Your words reminded me that I need to trust God with this project.  If He gave me the dream, He will give me the words.

    Thank you!
    Amy von borstel

  • http://shavingmylegswithoccamsrazor.weebly.com/blog.html Deelight

    Michael, thanks for sharing the link to this blog post on Twitter.  I’ve just shared your important message with my Facebook friends.  Joy and grace to you and yours.

  • lhgraham

    Awesome post!  You are right…sounds simple but harder to practice!  Thanks for the reminder!

  • hipmamamedia.com

    I love “Trust God and then work your buns off.” Thanks for re-posting as this was first time I got to read it.  This message never gets old and something I needed today!

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    Thanks for writing this, Michael. I’m very aware of God’s hand in my life, of the amazing way he orchestrates things and is always working on my behalf to get me from where I am to where I need to be. However, sometimes I just move into work mode without stopping to ask for His help or guidance. In that sense, I often lapse into acting as if it’s all up to me, when in reality, the truth is closer to  what you wrote here: “Trust God and then work your buns off.” That pretty well sums it up, doesn’t it?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That does sum it up!

  • http://www.tammyhelfrich.com/ Tammy Helfrich

    This is so good. I really needed to hear this today!

  • http://www.OurStoriesGodsGlory.blogspot.com/ Elise Daly Parker

    “…then, in his love for us, he is quick to remind us how finite our own resources are and how much we need him.” So true…I’ve experienced that reminder a time or two. And I am oh so grateful that God cares enough to pull us in when we go wandering off without Him.

  • Amanda B

    Thank you for this, Michael.  I’ve been researching platform building, etc… for weeks.  (I mostly ended up on your informational site!) But I was feeling flustered by it all.  Here was my thinking:  If God will elevate whom he chooses, by no power of our own – why should we work so hard to elevate ourselves?  I Googled this concept that has been swirling around in my heart, and came up with this post of yours written years ago!  I’m hoping to pitch a book to publishers this summer and feel that I have to choose well in the way I spend my time.  Love God and my family well (I have 7 young kids) and write.  Those are the two things I know for sure God wants me spending my time on.  Platform building takes time (as you know) and the little free time I have to write can’t possibly be spent trying to get noticed.  It’s not what I want!  But God has given me a message to be shared… how does one reconcile all of this?? 

    Thank you,  Amanda

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Amanda, I feel your pain. Seriously. I built my platform while I was a very busy CEO with five teenage daughters. It wasn’t easy. But it was so worth it.
      This really isn’t about trying to get noticed for your own sake, but for the sake of getting the message out. Continue to follow God’s leading. He will show you the path, one step at a time.

      • http://twitter.com/scarletpaisley Amanda B

        Thank you so much for replying.  It makes so much more sense in my heart to build a platform for the message, and not myself.  I will keep listening as God leads – the best place to be! 

        Thanks again,  Amanda
        @scarletpaisley

  • http://myhealthlybloodsugar.com/ Robinson Mertilus

    Excellent post. I especially identify with point #2. When I stretch myself, I have to trust God. It’s as simple as that.

  • http://www.robertkennedy3.com/ Robert Kennedy III

    Thanks for recycling this Michael!! I need to be reminded of this. It can be crazy to find the balance some times but remembering that God is the Author and Finisher is paramount to success. Keep working hard. Thank you sir!

  • Joel Mundackal

    Love this! A good reminder, always! :)

    Thanks for sharing Michael.

  • Kara McAulay

    Thanks. First words I saw this morning…needed to be reminded of that . Also, in my endeavours I always try to remind myself there’s a crack in everything – that’s how the light gets in.

  • http://zechariahnewman.com/ Zechariah Newman

    Great post Michael. Simple concepts are the hardest to live out. They also have the biggest impact. Trusting God for me happens more each day as I open more of my heart to Him. Needed this today. Thank you.

  • jowin

    If you don’t need God to pull off what you are planning, you are not dreaming big enough.
    Really loved this quote from your article. Thanks Michael :)

    http://jowinsreviews.blogspot.in/