Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to Avoid Obliteration

At an important committee meeting recently, I marveled at how the board chair inspired the participants not with a perfunctory prayer—but with a planning prayer.

Instead of downloading some trite feel-good story from the Internet, this board chair did the hard work and found the perfect thought and prayer on the planning process. It fit the time and place—hand in glove.

In a blog post last year I referenced Richard Kriegbaum’s wonderful book, Leadership Prayers, and the “Prayer for Competence.”  

This board chair also appreciates Kriegbaum’s powerful prayers and launched the meeting with the “Planning” prayer:

“Show me your way for us, God. In all the data, there are patterns I must see.  Among the many indicators, there are wise directions I must choose. By your grace I must peer through the foggy confusion and glimpse the light glimmering far ahead. Help me to choose the right path and head toward the right marker. 
If I am wrong, 
we could be obliterated. 
Guide me.

“Wisdom alone will not automatically make our plans easy to adopt or implement. Inevitably, wise planning will require us to act before it is completely apparent that we need to do so. For most of us, that will be hard to do, and it will be frightening for some. The comfort and security of the present that we worked so hard to create will try to seduce us. Nostalgia for our past will tempt us to stay there. Help me instill a longing for our future the way you see it. Carry us forward, God.

“Help us to let go of the present we worked so hard for, the present we asked you for, so that we may embrace a new and better future. Prepare us to accept some chaos in the short run in order to make things better in the long run, to take resources that could feed our present strengths and current welfare and risk them an uncertain future.

“As the leader, I speak for the future, and I love planning to get there. But this is very painful and threatening for some. Help me use the planning process to bring them along. Give me planning wisdom, God.

“Help us to move fast enough to reach our best future in time for it to matter. But let us move wisely enough that we can all stay together. Our inheritance lies yet ahead. Oh, God, help us claim it. I am looking for your guiding light.

“God of our future, show me your way. Make our plans wise.”

The prayer concludes with this encouragement from Jeremiah 29:11:
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. 
‘They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.’”

QUESTION: On the planning process continuum between “foggy confusion” (and perhaps obliteration) and God’s guiding light…where is your organization? How actively does your board and senior team spiritually discern God’s direction?

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