Plan your work. Work your plan. Those were the encouraging words of a professor in the department of accountancy at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, back when I was a student in the 1970s.
Plan your work. Work your plan.
Those words also describe the eleven years I worked as a certified public accountant, whether I was preparing a proposal for a potential new client, completing an audit, or surviving tax season. Plan your work. Work your plan. After leaving public accounting and beginning studies at the Athenaeum of Ohio — Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West, I kept a timesheet to learn how I was spending my time. Was I dedicating sufficient time to prayer, studies, leisure, and sleep? I used that information to decide how to better plan my work and work my plan.
Having a plan and working that plan is part of the call of each Christian. Jesus Christ himself gave us examples: Before constructing a tower, shouldn’t a builder sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough money for its completion (Luke 14:28)? Before marching into battle, doesn’t a king take time to decide whether he has enough troops (Luke 14:31)?
Jesus also gave us the Great Commission — we might even be so bold as to say he gave us the Great Plan: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
Jesus must be an integral part of the plan and the work of the board of a theological school. It takes planning for the Great Commission to come alive in the work of a theological institution, and it’s different than planning for a church, parish, orphanage, or other institution, because a theological school has a particular focus.
Planning includes determining how many meetings are needed each year, and creating agendas for them. It includes finalizing well-written mission and vision statements, assembling a budget, consulting with stakeholders, and preparing long-range goals and objectives. All these are necessary so that a theological school stays focused on the Great Commission—not only how it’s taught, but how it’s lived out by students, faculty, staff, and volunteers.
We can plan our work and work our plan as much as we want, but then there is God’s plan. Sometimes we are surprised by God’s grace. All we need to do is read the Acts of the Apostles to appreciate how the early followers of Jesus witnessed, adapted, and tried to anticipate future events as they lived the Great Commission.
We board members can learn from those biblical apostles. For us, “working the plan” requires honest, civil, and informed discussions at meetings. Because both expected and unexpected events will happen, “working the plan” also means regular review of mission and vision statements, budgets, and long-range planning documents. And we also need to plan how to live the Great Commission in all aspects of life — in prayer, in reading the Bible and other spiritual writings, in living out our faith. We must allow our faith in Jesus Christ to influence and guide our actions as we work our plan.
Plan your work. Work your plan.
And in doing so, we serve the Lord. And how blessed we are to serve Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in so many ways!