A Fall-back Plan
by Jeffrey Bush
It seems to be a normal and popular idea in our day to have a “fall-back plan” before going into ministry. Some of the top fall-back plans are learning medicine, carpentry or other skills. The idea seems pretty legit – learn something so you can use it in case full-time ministry does not work out. It might not be said in those exact words, but this is the real meat of the matter. Parents, family members and friends are asking young people to set aside a few years to learn a specific trade before going into ministry. They want them to be prepared to use their fall-back plan if ever needed. The idea is even spiritualized by saying that the apostle Paul was a tent maker. The problem is that we only find Paul’s tent-making trade mentioned two or three times in the Bible, and later Paul even asked forgiveness because he made them an inferior church by not accepting their funds. If we run to Scripture, we find that the Lord was not a “fall-back plan” promoter. So let’s do a small search on God’s thoughts concerning a fall-back plan:
- Let the dead bury their dead (Luke 9:60)
In this passage, there was a man who wanted to follow Jesus, but he asked if he could first go bury his father and then follow Jesus. Jesus responded by saying, “Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” Let’s be honest – this seems pretty harsh! The guy just wanted to take care of his dad (most believe his dad wasn’t dead yet), yet Christ was telling him that his duty to follow Him was more important than his relationships. There are no good excuses for not following Jesus, not even family.
The verse immediately after tells of another guy who wanted to follow Jesus but wanted to run home first to say good-bye (vs.61). Our Lord told him that he was unfit for the kingdom if he was going to look back (vs.62). The attitude of Jesus was that nothing else in this world should parallel to serving God; just drop every plan and go serve Him.
- Hate your father, mother, and your own life (Luke 14:26)
In this passage we see that there were great multitudes following Jesus. He didn’t beat around the bush when He tells them they cannot be His disciples if they are going to love anything or anyone more than they love Him (vs.26). But isn’t family important? Shouldn’t you love your family and help them or honor their wishes? According to Jesus, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks or says, absolutely no one should be loved more or heeded to more than Him. It might seem right to honor the parent’s wishes, the wise counsel from loved ones or continuing the family business, but if it stands between you serving God, it should not even be considered.
- Seek ye first the kingdom of God and then all these things will be added onto you (Matthew 6:33)
Isn’t it only right to plan? After all, I need to know about my future, where the money is going to come from and how I’m going to live. But according to Jesus, what you wear, eat or drink is not to be your concern (vs.31), in fact, that’s what the lost people are concerned about and consumed with (vs.32). As a Christian, you are to only seek God and His Kingdom, and He’ll take care of the secondary issues (vs.33). “Now don’t get all spiritual on me,” many parents would say, but God may want your son or daughter to sell all out and serve Him. God wants and deserves all of our trust. Our faith is in an all-powerful, all-knowing and all-seeing God. He can take care of you. He has enough money and knows our future. Our part is to trust Him completely, placing all of our faith in the One who never fails.
- Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
If we are not careful, we plan out our lives and leave no margin for God to work. James warned of making all your plans and not realizing God is the holder of life and plans (5:13-15). Do you really think that God would let you starve for trusting Him or stepping out on faith? Do you fear God would allow you to fail miserably if you follow Him? What really is behind the “fall-back plan”? Is it money, failure, protection, status, embarrassment or fear? God didn’t give Abraham directions or details when He told him to go to a land He would show him (Genesis 12:1), yet Abraham obeyed. Abraham could’ve been “smarter” when God told him to offer his only son, but he obeyed. David should’ve thought it through when he jumped in front of Goliath. Daniel should’ve prayed in private so he wouldn’t have been thrown in the lion’s den. The three Hebrew children should’ve faked a bow so the king wouldn’t have gotten mad and thrown them in the fiery furnace. Paul should’ve just avoided going to the cities that didn’t want to hear the Gospel. Logical? Absolutely none of these were all that smart, but they all had one thing in common: they believed that God was real and would take care of them. Will you quit figuring out all the steps and details before you will serve Christ? Do you really need a “fall-back plan”? No, all we need is a faith that believes that the God who calls is big enough to sustain.