“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
– Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
There are very few things that throw me off course – that distract me from pursuing Christ in order to better understand His calling – more than the 10-year plan.
I was first introduced to the concept of having a 10-year plan when I was in middle school by well-intentioned church leaders who were encouraging a group of us to set goals beyond the limited vision (of the “who will I sit with at lunch tomorrow?” and “did anyone else notice that my socks didn’t match today?” sort) that tends to characterize the early teen years.
More recently, I have encountered the concept of having a 10-year plan by well-respected leaders (both secular and Christian) who advocate living intentionally and with purpose rather than just getting caught up in the necessary and mundane tasks that make up our everyday existence.
Both good things, right?
Except … that I can be doing well pursuing intimacy with Christ. Seeking Him first. Content with not knowing exactly where I’m headed. Because I’m trusting the One who calls. And taking one step at a time by faith … until someone mentions the necessity of a 10-year plan.
The 10-year plan that says I must have goals for the immediate and distant future. I must have career goals, family goals, church goals, relationship goals. I must have a life-plan for crying out loud! Because without one, I am sure to flounder, sure to walk aimlessly through life, sure to wake up in 10 years without a clue as to how I got there, and sure to remain stagnant as an individual rather than growing and maturing and achieving success.
But by whose standards?
And where is the 10-year plan referenced in Scripture again?
But rather than actually allowing those questions to slow my thoughts and bring perspective, I am immediately thrown into all shades of panic. I’m not sure where I want to be in 10 years. I’m not sure of the turns that my career path will take over the next 10 years. I’m not sure where I’ll be living in 10 years. I’m not sure what my relationship status will be in 10 years…especially since my 10 year plan when I was fourteen included marriage by twenty four…and that didn’t happen…so where does that leave me? With an epic fail at achieving the first 10-year plan?
But what if faithfully moving closer to Jesus each day really is enough? What if living every.single.day with eternal perspective and all that implies really is enough? What if trusting the One voice who will never change and never fail really is enough?
What if all those 10-year plans get in the way of and distract us from God’s plans? What if all those 10-year plans box God into only what we can imagine for ourselves?
What if He has different? What if He has more?
What if we were less concerned about conforming to the 10-year plans of this world and more concerned with being transformed by the renewal of our minds, so that we may instead test and discern the good and perfect will of God?