7.18.2016- When God Writes Your Development Plan

What’s on YOUR development bucket list?

A few years ago my husband and I initiated a sabbatical after a busy season of ministry. Eager to launch into our season of development, we created a “bucket list” of learning and growth projects.  In our minds these were simply activities we hadn’t found time for.  Reading books and attending conferences came easily to us, and we enjoyed them. But God had a different development plan in mind for us. That year we encountered suffering (definitely not on our list!) and were reminded that ultimately it is God who writes our development plans. In making our plans, we still should look to God to confirm them. “A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure“ (Proverbs 16:9, Amplified)

Growing up in the flat Boston suburbs, my parents scheduled “family bike rides.” My sister and I were experienced bicycle riders, but my younger brother needed training wheels to steady himself.  This slowed us down—irritating to me, but Dad persisted in keeping the family together.

Our heavenly Father knows we need guidance as we walk out our development plans.  Sometimes we need support and resources, much like those training wheels, to steady us. Attending a conference, coaching from a mentor, or reading a book by an expert can bring needed perspective. At other times, we need the support of leaders, cheering us on and shepherding us, much like my Dad with our stop-and-go bike rides.

During our sabbatical year, our disabled daughter chose to marry and move away from our home.  Watching her struggle for independence and endure the consequences of poor choices broke our hearts. Yet this season of suffering did more to develop our trust in God than all of the bucket list activities we “checked off” on our development plan that year.   
Creating a development plan is not about trusting in a formula to become godly.  In fact, listing activities you don’t really have a heart for may do nothing more than spin the hamster wheel of self-effort.

What if your development plan highlighted areas where you’re trusting God for real growth and change?  What if you asked Him what’s on His development bucket list for you this year?  Consult your supervisor and go deeper in this year’s Plan & Progress Review. Ask a close friend for input. If you need resources or a coach to walk through the process of writing a meaningful development plan, get in touch with Learning & Development (thrive@navigators.org).