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Plumb Lines: Plan in Pencil

This post is part of series called Plumb Lines where Larry Osborne shares guidelines on how articulating certain “ministry plumb lines” can make decision making a snap, and can make sure that teams are in alignment with the greater mission. To start this series from the beginning, go to the Plumb Lines Intro post.

Let’s see what Larry has to say about the next plumb line, Plan in Pencil.

Okay, folks. I got another plumb line for you. As we continue to march through some of the examples from North Coast Church, and as I keep saying, this is description, not prescription. Some will work for you, and some won’t, but they’ll help you understand how to create your own plumb lines.

One of the ones that we use a lot at North Coast, and is really key to me, really, not only in ministry, but pretty much every area of my life is this one: plan in pencil.

I believe we need to make fuzzy plans, not overly rigid plans, and for one simple reason. The longer I live life, the more I understand that tomorrow will never be exactly what I thought it would be, and so life tends to flow in one direction for a little while, and then suddenly take off.

As we get a vision and a sense of what God is guiding us to do, more often, it’s not an instant snapshot digital like today. It’s like the old school Polaroids, where over time, you’re looking at it, and you go, oh, it’s a light pole, oh, it’s a skinny person. It just changes, and my bet is that you’ll look back on your life, you’ll look back on your leadership, you will find that you tend to start in one direction, and slowly fade off into another, because at the beginning of any journey, you do not know all the opportunities and all the obstacles.

I find leaders often make the mistake of having way too detailed of a path. A better way to do it is to say, we’re going to go to that mountain over here, and we’re going to start along this path, and you lay out your itinerary in pencil, because when you lay it out in pencil, you can erase it when it’s time to change it. I mean, think with me. Even the apostle Paul, he thought he was supposed to go to Asia Minor, Bithynia. I mean, this is a guy who writes Bible, that’s pretty high on the spiritual food chain. You would think if anybody could figure out God’s will, it would the apostle Paul, but what happens?

Spirit of Jesus stops him. Spirit of Jesus stops him. He has a pizza dream. Somebody’s calling him over to Macedonia. He decides to go down there, and unbeknownst to him, from the beginning of the journey, a church in Philippi is going to be started, a book of the Bible’s going to come out of that. He’s going to go over to Thessalonica.

That’s how life tends to work out, which is why we use the plumb line, plan in pencil, because be it our budget, be it a one year plan, God forbid, a three or five year plan, the only thing I know for certain is tomorrow’s going to be different than I thought it was, and planning in pencil makes it so we’re not caught with yesterday’s vision, in light of today’s reality.

This video is part of the Plumb Lines series available for free on YouTube, To watch the video, click below.