Smart advice from Proverbs: plan for the long term
Does God want you to plan for the future? Or do you trust God in the here and now? According to the book of Proverbs, the answer to both questions is Yes.
The valiant woman in Proverbs 31 carefully plans her investments for long-term potential. She plants a vineyard, which won’t yield a crop until three years into the future. Proverbs praises her for her diligence, unlike the hasty fool in Proverbs 21:5 who acts rashly and ends up in poverty.
Psychological research confirms the smart advice in the book of Proverbs. The ability to delay gratification—that is, the ability to make decisions based on longer-term results—is a far better predictor of success in school than IQ. Picturing yourself in the future can help with delaying gratification. Those who imagine themselves 5 or 10 years from now make better decisions in the present, according to research on budgeting.
At the same time, you can’t know the specifics of God’s plan for the future, so your planning must be peppered with humility. Proverbs 16:1 acknowledges this reality: “The plans of the mind belong to mortals, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”
How do you plan for the future and rely on God at the same time? Do your planning in a time of prayer. Ask God: “What do you want my life to look like five years from now?” Then ask, “What should I do today to make that happen?” Whatever answer comes to you, trust God to make it work out in both the short and long term.
Prayer: God, show me your vision for my life. Show me how I can plan today for your blessings. I trust you, God. Amen.
Further Exploration: For more on what makes good planning, see the Theology of Work Commentary on Proverbs: A Diligent Worker Plans for the Long Term.