‘Make No Little Plans’

My family got to spend a couple of days in Chicago recently. We had brunch in Hyde Park, went to the Museum of Science and Industry, and took in a concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music. On one of our treks around town, we drove iconic Lake Shore Drive.

Among the many things I love about our family’s former hometown is the city’s park-lined lakefront. It was an important part of urban planner Daniel Burnham’s vision and is today one of his greatest legacies. It stands as a daily embodiment of one of his most famous quotes: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood…”

Making no little financial plans

Since I can’t help but look for the money-related implications in much of what I experience, our visit to Chicago made me think about the importance of vision and what legacy will be left by the financial decisions we’re making.

Do you live by a vision that guides your use of money? Two examples from my own life come to mind.

Early in our relationship, Jude and I developed a shared vision that if we were blessed with kids we’d like for her to be able to stay home with them. We arranged our finances accordingly, living primarily on one income when we both worked outside the home so that it would be easier to live on one if and when we had kids.

While Jude did recently re-enter the paid workforce, she was home full-time for the first 19 years of our child-rearing. I’ve seen countless benefits that have come from the decision to live on one income all those years. It’s one we will never regret. (Read An Uncommon But Brilliant Money Move for Young Couples.) 

The other major example has to do with my career path. When I worked in corporate America, I had a good job that paid well and provided other nice benefits. After a few years, though, there were many days when I walked into the building imagining myself looking down on the scene and wondering, “Who is that guy?” The work I did day in and day out didn’t seem all that meaningful. I sensed God encouraging me to take the lessons learned from my financial crash and burn and make them my life’s work.

So, bathed in prayer, with Jude’s full support, with the input of some trusted mentors, and with 18 months’ worth of living expenses in the bank, one day with everything going as well as it possibly could, I quit my job in order to begin writing and speaking about biblical money management full-time.

Since then, there have been some some incredibly challenging seasons and some painful lessons, but I live with the sense that I’m doing what God put me here to do.

The clock is ticking

One of the most common regrets of the elderly is that they didn’t take more risks.

For all sad words of tongue or pen,

The saddest are these: ‘It might have been.’ – John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller

Is there some vision that you sense God has put on your heart? Are there nights you can’t sleep because you’re thinking of it? If that vision has some staying power—and if you’re married, if it’s something your spouse can support—why not get about pursuing it?

While there are certainly no guarantees, for most of us, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be here on October 24, 2024, and on October 24, 2025, and, God willing, beyond. The days will roll on whether we pursue the vision God has put on our hearts or not.

And you know that when the truth is told
That you can get what you want or you can just get old – Billy Joel, Vienna

My encouragement to all of us is to not grow old wondering what might have been.

Has God put a vision on your heart? What is it? And is there something you would have to do differently financially in order to start pursuing it?

It’s easiest to feel the doubts. To compile a list of the many reasons it couldn’t possibly work out. So why even try?

I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’. – Andy, The Shawshank Redemption

To not try is to get busy dyin’, isn’t it?

Recently, in a discipleship group I’m in, these words convicted me in the most wonderful way:

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23

What those words said to me is that if what I’m pursuing is all about me, it probably won’t succeed. But if it’s about something bigger than me, if it’s truly about God—honoring Him, obeying Him, serving Him—then maybe, just maybe it will.

And they also said that pursuing His vision might cost me something. Am I willing to give up some comfort to get after it? Am I willing to put in the work? To try to solve the many problems? To try to answer the many questions? Am I willing to trust the vision at times when it seems like no progress is being made? Most of all, am I willing to risk failure?

What about you? What vision has God put on your heart? What would it cost you to pursue it? And perhaps more importantly, what would it cost you not to?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

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2 Responses to ‘Make No Little Plans’

  1. Doug October 26, 2023 at 9:00 AM #

    Excellent article. And very timely on my 67th birthday. Thanks

    • Matt Bell October 27, 2023 at 10:08 AM #

      Thanks for your feedback, Doug. And happy birthday!

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