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The Faith Factor in Planning the Future
Our thoughts form our future. Both fear and faith plan what will happen and envision an outcome. Which one will it be? Here’s how you overcome fear and replace it with faith.

Recently, I was faced with a difficulty in a business I own. Our facility was broken into, and while the thieves stole around $400 in cash, they did about $19,000 in damage.

The secret of our strength in God is in the little word ‘choose’…

Now I faced a new reality and a different future I wasn’t expecting, and I had a choice to make.

A significant part of my mind and emotions told me that this meant ruin for that business while another part of me believed this was an opportunity for improvement and growth. Part of me was afraid, while another part of me was full of faith. When these feelings of despair tried to overwhelm me and I felt like a person being swept towards the falls, I rediscovered a secret. The secret of our strength in God is in the little word ‘choose’ — will it be fear or will it be faith?

Both fear and faith see the future. What fear sees and what faith sees has not yet happened. For example, if a small child shares the back seat of a car with a bee, the child sees his future even though it has not happened yet. The child knows that the bee is going to sting him. It is the only version of the future that he can see.

We do this very thing in our business planning. Whenever we consider the future, we are pre-playing what we believe the future will be. When we are considering the future, we are actually planning it. Whenever we think about what has not happened yet, those thoughts form a plan for that future. Thinking about the future is much like thinking about the past. It is like watching a DVD. The past has already happened, and we play it over and over. The future has not yet happened, and we play it over and over. The only question is, “What version of the future are we playing?”

Both fear and faith focus on one aspect of the future: one object or outcome. A key employee leaves. That action sets off a whole series of thoughts inside us. Those thoughts specifically focus on the future. We have some strong opinions of what this reality means for our future. We eventually settle on one conclusion: either this loss is going to greatly hurt us or we will be able to find someone as good or perhaps even better to fill this job vacancy. We will come to only one conclusion … but which conclusion will we come to? Will it be fear or faith?

Both fear and faith are convinced their version of the future will happen. They believe the future they are thinking about is actually going to happen. Some business people believe they are going to lose everything, when other people facing the same circumstances would believe they are going to come out of the tragedy even stronger than ever. It is more than the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. Just because the ‘big cheque’ hasn’t come yet, does not mean that it will never come.

Often what we believe is carried out by our actions to fulfill our own beliefs.

Both fear and faith take large amounts of emotional energy. Planning to win is just as tiring as planning to fail. Being afraid we are going to lose our building takes as much energy as planning to build a larger facility. The hard work of growing a business or department can be tiring, but worrying it is all going to fall apart is equally exhausting. When faced with the reality that 90 percent of everything we worry about doesn’t happen, some people stop worrying. We could give the same statistic to other people only to hear them say, “See worrying works.” That is somewhat humorous, but we are faced with a decision. When something we are afraid of never happens, is it proof that worrying pays off? Or is it just a waste of time and energy when we could be focusing those emotions and energy on a different potential future?

Often what we believe is carried out by our actions to fulfill our own beliefs. Studies have shown that if we believe we are headed to financial ruin, we make decisions that hurry us in that direction. That is negative belief, or fear. However that principle works in reverse also. If we believe expansion and success is in our immediate future, we make decisions that take us in that direction. That is positive belief, or faith. We cannot choose if we think about the future. We only can choose what future we think about.

Both fear and faith believe what someone else wants for us and for our businesses. Accountants, Employees, Customers, Bankers, Suppliers, and Partners all have an opinion about our future. When strong competitors move into our territory, they hold a version of what they want our future to be. However there are others who have a belief about our future. The enemy of our soul wants some things for our future, but the Lover of Our Soul wants and believes a very different future for us.

The way to change our plans for our future is not to stop fear, but to start faith. Both fear and faith have the same definition — “call those things which do not exist as though they did.” *1) Both fear and faith believe what has not yet happened will eventually happen. In that regard, both fear and faith have the same definition.

When Jesus was about to heal the daughter of a government official, He first had to deal with the intense, personal fear of that father. News came that the daughter had died but when Jesus heard it, He said to the father, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” *2) Jesus did not ask the father to start believing in something … he already believed something. Jesus only asked him to change what he believed. This does not take any more emotional energy. This does not take any more faith. Faith was already present … it just was focused on the wrong thing.

In business planning, since we already believe something about our future, it is possible to believe in a different outcome. We can replace the negative fear thoughts with positive faith thoughts. It won’t work if we just try to stop thinking about all the things that can go wrong. If we just repeat about our business, “I am not going to think about failure; I am not going to think about loss; I am not going to think about the strong Canadian dollar; I am not going to think about inflation or a recession” then we find ourselves filling up with fear.

For example, if I am always thinking about the alphabet, I can concentrate all I want about not thinking about the alphabet. But the more I think about not thinking about the alphabet, the more I think about the alphabet. The more we think about the thing we don’t want to think about, the more we think about the thing we don’t want to think about.

How do I stop thinking about the alphabet? Start thinking about numbers. It is not good enough to try to stop thinking about what can go wrong, we must start thinking about what can go right. It is not good enough to just stop thinking about how we could fail in our business; we must start thinking about how we can succeed. It is not good enough to stop thinking about what the enemy of our soul wants for us, we can start thinking about what the Lover of Our Soul wants for us. The way to overcome fear is to replace it with faith.

In business planning, one key is to replace that DVD we all play over and over in our heads about our future. We cannot choose if we think about the future of our business or practice or department, we only can choose what we think about. We all follow a script in our thought life about our future. We just get to pick which script we follow. Let it be faith.

Paul Richardson is the president of Christian Business Ministries Canada (CBMC).

Originally published in Business Life, Spring 2008.

 

 
 
 
 

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