How to Develop a Life Plan
By Rick Warren
“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NLT)
When you make your life plan, God’s contribution toward its success is far greater than your own—but your contribution is still vital. In the Old Testament, Nehemiah offers a good example of someone who knew that his plan depended on God.
When Nehemiah was cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, he heard his hometown of Jerusalem had been destroyed and lay defenseless. This troubled Nehemiah, so he decided to go home to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls. But he knew he wouldn’t get very far without a plan.
The Bible says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps” (Proverbs 16:9 (NLT).
Nehemiah’s plan for how he would get to Jerusalem gives you sevens steps in developing a life plan. Here are the first two:
Step 1: Ask God for favor on your life.
Nehemiah knew he couldn’t just impulsively suggest that the king let him go home to rebuild. So he prayed, asking for God’s favor: “O Lord, please hear my prayer! . . . Please grant me success today by making the king favorable to me. Put it into his heart to be kind to me” (Nehemiah 1:11 NLT).
God’s favor is God’s grace, and you need it to make and fulfill your plans. Notice Nehemiah also prayed, “Please grant me success.” Sometimes you might think you shouldn’t ask God for success. But there’s nothing wrong with praying for success when you’re trusting God to do the work.
Step 2: Prepare for an opportunity, and then wait.
Nehemiah had to wait before he was given an opportunity to present his plan to the king. Then one day, “four months later, when Emperor Artaxerxes was dining, [Nehemiah] took the wine to him” (Nehemiah 2:1 GNT). Because Nehemiah had plenty of time to prepare, he knew exactly what he wanted to say to the king.
When you begin praying about a plan, vision, or dream God has given you, he usually doesn’t answer right away. God often waits to see how serious you are about it. Are you going to keep praying and planning while you wait? If so, you’ll be prepared to open the door when opportunity knocks.
Tomorrow we’ll look at three more steps Nehemiah took in developing his plan, all steps that you can use as you make a life plan.