On planning and preparing.

In March 2020, I asked for words to help me think. A friend wrote and said “Plan vs Prepare. No amount of planning is going to save people who don’t prepare.”

That’s an awesomely challenging thought which reminded me of a post I had written several years earlier.


I’m built for the second chair. That’s the associate, the person that helps accomplish the vision, that makes sure the room is ready, that helps the stories be told, that translates. I love this calling. But I have a hard time planning, at least in the way that people who run their own companies and lives talk about planning. We hear about goals, about strategies, about personal visions. We read about building disruptions, independence. But some of us are rooted in interdependence.

Just before Christmas, my friend Becky told me, “I think you plan completely differently than most accepted definitions. It’s more like you prepare than that you plan.” 

That statement gave me great clarity. Preparing is about being ready for what might come, for what could come. It’s about building capacity. It’s about building a heart that has the resources to respond to the needs of others. It’s about leaving space around the edges so there is room for the unexpected.

Here are four things preparing includes:

  • Decide to want to learn.
  • Develop “skills.” Terry Linhart asked himself what three actions he wanted to develop more in 2012. His question and his answers (pray, listen, read) illustrate the attitude of preparation.
  • Remove obstacles. Last year (2012) Nancy and I got passports. We don’t have any trips planned. We just want to be ready. A few of my other 99 goals were about preparation as well.
  • Learn to wait.  Waiting is about preparing, as I wrote about in But I want to solve the problem.

Ezra is a great example, a person who committed to study, obey, and teach. He ended up leading a major spiritual renewal.  Being a disciple is being committed to preparing. A disciple is about learning.  A disciple of Jesus is learning to obey what Jesus said to do.


Planning these days (whether in 2020 or today) is almost impossible. Preparing, however, may be.