Be Prepared

By Pastor Phil Stanley June 25, 2023

Last week I told you about my struggles running the Bridge Builder Communities Superhero 5k.  I was filming and getting footage for Jackson so I was still at the starting line for about five minutes after everyone else started.  I told Heather and Nikolai I’d catch up but I had no idea how difficult it is to make up five minutes running. They were even walking and slowing down to wait for me and I was still about to die trying to catch up. 

Believe it or not, I used to be in much better shape. Heather, my best friend Smitty and I  would run together and we did several races.  This was all 6-7 years ago.  My last half marathon was in February of 2017. I was in the best shape of my life and I crushed it.  I averaged 8 minutes miles for the first 9 miles and for me that was an achievement. But, if you came to me today and offered me $1,000,000 to run a half marathon this afternoon. I’d miss my opportunity.  Why? Because I’m no longer prepared to run like that.  To be clear, I’d give it my absolute best.  But we all know that your best is only as good as your preparation and folks, I’m not prepared to run. 

I could even use a running app that plans out each step, tells me the exact pace I should run to make it easier and maximize my efficiency and it just won’t matter.

The title of my message this morning is “Be Prepared.”

I think most of y’all could’ve just sung from The Lion King song just then. Nicole, Heather and I have a great and wonderful memory from a pretty hilarious youth group Disney karaoke you’ll have to ask about sometime. 

But today I want to talk about the difference between a plan and preparation.

We’ve been going through Dr. Sam Chand’s leadership institute since January it’s been an incredible resource with all sorts of practical leadership training and knowledge. It’s basically one book a month and this month we covered Dr. Chand’s book “Journey to Destiny.”  In it he describes the difference between preparation and planning. 

Many leaders don’t understand the difference between planning and preparation. They make the mistake of thinking of them as synonymous, when they’re not. Planning has a narrow focus, while preparation is far broader in its scope. When you prepare, you’re readying yourself in advance, you’re priming yourself, getting warmed up for any possibility. When you plan, you’re devising a method to achieve some specific end.

There is certainly a time for planning. But we cannot overlook the importance of preparation. Proverbs reminds us, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” In the end, we have to be ready for our steps to be directed, even if that means going somewhere that’s contrary to our original plans. We simply have to be prepared for whatever comes our way.

Dr. Sam Chand – Journey to Destiny

You might plan to take a specific class in college, but you prepare from kindergarten through high school to get to that moment. 

Another way to think about it is that a farmer plans what crop he wants to plant, where it will be planted, and how much seed he needs. 

But his preparation involves acquiring the land, the knowledge, and the equipment the farm needs far before planting season.  

Our plans are useless without preparation.

This whole concept of being prepared reminded me of one of Jesus’ parables.  Let’s look at Matthew chapter 25 beginning in verse 1.

“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids[a] who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’

7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’

9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’

12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’

13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

Matt 25:1-13

Opportunities have an expiration date.

The unprepared bridesmaids missed their window and the opportunity was lost. 

It didn’t matter that they eventually got what they needed.  They were too late. 

Our purpose is unlocked by our preparation.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

If we want to seize the opportunities God brings us, we have to be prepared.

Dr. Chand talks about reaching your destiny and breaks it down in his book.  He says the biggest problem people have is that there are 7 steps to reaching your destiny and everyone tries to start on step 4. 

We’re all itching to do something.  We are constantly asking “what should i do” or telling people “what to do.”  But there’s three steps before the actual doing. 

You have a vision of where you want to go, so to get there you have:

  1. Thoughts: What am I thinking?
  2. Words: What am I saying? How can I verbalize this concept internally and externally?
  3. Decision: Am I doing this or not?
  4. Action: What do I do? Time to do the doing.
  5. Habits: Repeated actions become habits.
  6. Character: Habits over time develop your character.
  7. Destiny: Your character unlocks your destiny.

To realize our potential, we have to change the perception of our problems.

This applies to so many parts of our lives doesn’t it? What if God is trying to use your problems as preparation? It completely changes the perception of your problems doesn’t it?  

We ask God to bless us financially, but we’re not wise with what we have or we lack the discipline required to be good stewards. 

We ask God for better jobs but we haven’t worked on ourselves, we haven’t acquired the training or education that would prepare us for it.  

We ask God for a “significant other” but we haven’t fully dealt with the insecurities, hurts, or scar tissue of past relationships. 

We ask for freedom over bondage and sin but we hold on to pieces of our fleshly desires.

We ask for a move of God but we haven’t surrendered our pride.

In all these areas of our lives it becomes clear. God wants us to be a prepared people.

What steps do you need to take today to be prepared for the tomorrow God has for you?