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Planning is an essential element for any financial program, but it is particularly important for Christians. Too often Christians argue whether they should plan at all. Some say that God does not expect us to plan but, rather, to rely on Him for everything. Others say that we should plan every minute of our lives, covering all potential circumstances and situations. These plans are so inflexible that they no longer responsive to God's leading. The answer lies somewhere between the two.
Getting started with a plan
The first place to start is to develop a change of attitude.1 This attitude must be founded on the premise that God owns it all and we are only managers of what He has entrusted to us to manage. Therefore this plan must be according to God's directives, His principles, and His convictions. By maintaining this type of relationship, there will be little temptation to make financial decisions instantly (or before praying and thinking about the decision) or to become involved in get-rich-quick schemes.
Next, the plans must be flexible. Life is not always clean and easy. Practice patience. Nevertheless, don't change plans just because somebody else encourages a change from the developed plan.
The plan needs to be written. A written plan provides a visible and objective standard to work toward, and it will help measure progress better and keep the plan on track. An example of a written plan is a family budget. A budget shows where the family is financially, how much the family is currently spending, and how much the family can spend according to the current income. Very few, if any, families with financial difficulties have a written plan.
The primary ingredients necessary to develop a plan are goals. Plans are generally divided into short-range plans, which are centered around short-range goals, and long-range plans, which are centered around long-range goals.
Short-range plans are those that happen daily and require attention today. Short-range plans are basically day-to-day occurrences. Included in this day-to-day schedule should be some sort of plan for paying bills. In order to develop a short-range plan, five short-range goals should be considered: (1) excellence; (2) limit credit; (3) set personal family goals; (4) and work to honor God.
In addition to short-range planning, Christians need to develop long-range plans and visualize their long-range financial objectives. Not every Christian will be wealthy; nor should everyone be wealthy. But everyone has a responsibility to plan well, to have good sound objectives, and to operate according to God's principles. In order to develop long-range plans, four long-range goals should be considered: (1) set a maximum goal; (2) have a surplus plan; (3) obey God's principles; and (4) develop a family plan.
God is an orderly provider and expects His people also to be orderly. The physical world we live in is not chaotic but is orderly and well planned because God is in control. Finances are just another aspect of the Christian's life that God wants to manage. If we are stewards and God is the owner, then it is His wisdom upon which we must rely. His wisdom is best revealed through regular communication with Him and the study of His Word.