Proverbs 16:3 & 9
“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established….The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
We all know a Type A person that loves a good plan. They stick to the plan because veering from it could cause a breakdown, a meltdown of any proportion. These friends, coworkers, family members, and acquaintances proudly present their plans and expect others to gladly follow. Why? Because it’s planned perfection on paper. I know this because I use to be one of them.
When I first started teaching, I had a plan for the next school year before I closed up shop in May of the current school year. Coworkers laughed – maybe even scoffed – at me as I huddled in the corner of my classroom with another Type A teacher diligently planning and making copies for the next school year. When we left in May. we had plans for the whole year, along with copies sent to the print shop and delivered to our classrooms over summer break. It was like Christmas in August when we returned. While all those other teachers were just beginning to make plans, we were unwrapping boxes of printed goodies and counting copies to be used for the new school year.
I reflect on those beginning years of teaching with a twinge of repentance and confession. I used my God-given gifts of planning. However, I fought the Lord every time he tried to establish his steps along the way. I proudly presented my plans to him, “Look what I have accomplished! Look how much my students will learn! Look at all they will do by the time they leave my care!” He, on the other hand, knew better. He was in the details I adamantly tried to rob him of, even though I felt my ways were better.
I never learned to surrender my plans and let the Lord establish my steps along the way. Instead, my lasting legacy in those beginning years of teaching was made up of anxiety and fear. Fear of falling behind, of disappointing someone, of not living up to expectations, of not sticking to the plan I labored over, of admitting I wasn’t perfect. My plans, that started out so innocent, became an established trap of hiding my imperfections. That was never what the Lord intended when it came to planning. Never.
He created us in his image as people who plan, imagine, dream, invent, consider, think, and devise new possibilities. It’s hopeful. It’s an exciting piece of his divine nature given to us. However, we must learn to surrender these plans and let him work in the details as he establishes our steps. The planning propels us towards obedience; the surrender leads us to humility.
Now, in May I don’t find myself huddled in a corner with a fellow Type A teacher frantically planning perfection on paper. Instead, I linger thinking back on the students I’ve worked with, the progress they made, and the laughs we had along the way. I consider things to change for next year and make a few notes in my planner, then walk away from the year. I walk towards a summer of rest and personal learning. My plans float in my imagination, slowly unfolding on paper over time. Then they are worked out in flesh and breath each day. I hold these plans loosely, trusting the Lord will work in the details.
The legacy currently established in my classroom is one based on courage, bravery, trust, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. This legacy reflects a much more godly character for my students to see than the fear-driven plans I once clung to years ago. I’ve learned to enjoy the gift of planning and imagining. Currently, I’m learning to hold those plans loosely because that legacy is much better than the one I could ever imagine.