A manager sat in my office, frustrated with below-standard team performance. He admitted, “I’ve had the same conversations every month for six months with little or no progress. What can I do?” We dug to the root of the problem: he was short on planning and long on reaction.
Jesus told his disciples a story about ten bridesmaids. Five suffered the same affliction. They took their lamps but no extra oil. When the bridegroom came at midnight, the five foolish bridesmaids were unprepared. They had no oil left to guide his path to the bride. They pleaded with the other five, “Give us some of your oil.” The five with oil answered, “No, there’s not enough for both of us. Buy more for yourself” (Matthew 25:1-13).
We discussed solutions. “What do you want to accomplish with the team?” I asked. “Then find a quiet place and time away to plan the best way to get there. Walk away from interruptions and focus. Schedule at least four hours a month to prepare.”
Easier said than done.
The manager broke the appointment with himself. With reasonable excuses, of course. I know because I’ve used them myself. “I went to my desk first and when I looked up, it was noon … Something else came up … Too much to do, no time to plan.”
“Just do it,” I said. The manager did. The result? Less time wasted and energy drained fishing for last-minute answers, more engaged team members with personal development plans they helped create, and improved team performance.
Whenever God calls us to do something, He gives time upfront to prepare. Our role is to take advantage of that time. God left us examples. Joseph prepared Egypt to face seven years of famine (Genesis 41:28-36). God used the exile of Moses to the desert as training ground to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3:1). And Jesus admonished us to ready ourselves for his return (Matthew 25:1-30).
At first, I judged the bridesmaids with oil as harsh when they refused to share with those unprepared. Until I realized spiritual preparation cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute. My relationship with God must be my own. When faced with challenges or tasks to which He calls me, setting aside time to prepare—whether it’s time to pray for His wisdom, develop my faith, or strategize approaches—is better than being caught short in what I need.
Better to be long on planning than short on His strength.
“If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready… .” (Matthew 24:43-44, NLT)
©2011 Gloria Ashby. Feel free to forward this devotion in its entirety, including this copyright line. Leave comments, ask questions, read past devotions, or subscribe to receive these devotions daily in your e-mail.