Things in life get done through four main ways: planning, preparation, habit, and the flexibility to live with spontaneity. Habits train our autopilot, governing things we do even without trying. They build skills and knowledge over time, seemingly without effort. Preparation is about meeting prerequisites, being diligent with due diligence, completing the reading before the meeting, and finishing the homework before getting to class. Planning is about scheduling and plotting out times and events.
God governs over us, dominating, ruling, sitting above us, by keeping all these different methods necessary. We must learn all of these different ways of working to have the best in life. Of all these ways to get things done, nothing gets done if it doesn’t happen. Actually doing something—taking initiative, getting off the couch, keeping commitments, steering priorities—the action of “doing” a thing is what delivers its results.
A pastor in Cabrini Green explained this to me, “That lady was supposed to meet me today, but she can’t because she had to go to the store. Going to the store only takes one or two hours. But, in ‘poverty’ mentality, a person doesn’t understand the idea of going to the store and keeping an appointment in the same day. That’s part of what keeps poor people poor.”
Planning and intentionally preparing allow greater and better things to get done. Anyone can write a good story or build a good house. But, an awesome story requires some outlining and probably a backstory for the author’s reference. An excellent house requires excellent structures, skills, and materials—and those things don’t happen by accident. Excellent buildings must be coordinated, which is why construction scheduling is literally an academic study all to itself. Habits keep us working when we don’t think about working. Yet, there are always those moments that come by without warning and, when they do, we must seize the unplanned, one-time opportunity or miss out forever.
Different things get done different ways. But, nothing gets done unless it gets done. Hard work will achieve more than a well-planned calendar full of “excused absences”. The “doing” is the common thread of many types of paths that life opens for us.