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 ©, Image #1977424

Photo courtesy of ©

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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  • 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.


  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Pingback: Here’s a great article called where do you put yourself in your list of priorities….a must read « Pastor Mike Says

  • 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

  • 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!


    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!

  • 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?

    • Michael Hyatt

      That does sum it up!

  • Tammy Helfrich

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

  • 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

    • 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.

      • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 :)