By Ken McEachern
August 11, 2021


June 2021

The mind of a person plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9


If you have ever been on a trip of any kind, you have probably learned that a key component to a trip is flexibility. From my experience, this is especially true on mission trips. Planning is essential. Otherwise, you might never get to your destination. Along the way, however, you soon discover that “stuff” happens. Flights are delayed, luggage is lost, people are late. Once you arrive on the field of service, you find that, even though plans have been “settled,” you still have to react to changing circumstances that could not have been anticipated. The more people involved, the more likely you are to have issues. You must remain flexible.

I have recently been reminded that flexibility is also a necessary component of everyday life. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of a person plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” No person is smart enough or powerful enough to control all of life’s nuances for everyone. So—it  stands to reason that you have to maintain a certain amount of flexibility in your schedule. Another factor in life’s journey is that circumstances change. What was expected yesterday is not possible today. Having gone through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we all had to adjust to unexpected conditions. With mask-wearing, social distancing, and fluid requirements from the government, we were in constant flux. Though there was a great amount of inconvenience, frustration, and misinformation, we tried our best to adapt.

The trials of 2020 were an intense example of what we face every day. Rarely are such concentrated demands placed on our lives. However, when you think about it, there are necessary adjustments required every day. We can choose to accept the need for flexibility or try to force life to go our way.

There are exceptions. We cannot always change our whole life to accept someone else’s demands on our lives. I remember a statement from the Gospel tract, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Rick Warren rightly adapted that statement when he said, “God loves you and everyone else has a wonderful plan for your life.” In other words, other people, whether with good intentions or not, think they have a solution to the problems you face. Maybe they do. Maybe they offer good advice, but maybe it’s better to filter their advice through the lens of God’s Word.

Another exception to the necessity of flexibility is biblical doctrine. Too many today want to adapt the Bible to fit their situation or to accommodate current societal trends. Jude, brother of Jesus and author of the New Testament book bearing his name, reminds us “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) While there are some areas of doctrine about which faithful Christians may find some disagreement, there are others that are non-negotiable. The solas of the reformation are a good place to start: 

  • Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
  • Sola fide ("by faith alone")
  • Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
  • Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone")
  • Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")

When Martin Luther was called before the Diet of Worms to defend his objections to the abuses of the church, he said:

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason…, I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. May God help me. Amen. 

There are other reasons to be firm rather than flexible, but in personal relationships being flexible is often not only necessary but also considerate. The Bible is replete with references concerning how to get along with others. Here are a few:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph. 4:1-3

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Romans 12:18

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. Romans 12:3

Leave it to another brother of Jesus to give some practical advice. 

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15

When dealing with others, it’s important to be flexible when possible. If possible, give people the benefit of the doubt. Be eager to forgive. Trust God. Let the Holy Spirit guide you. Be true to the Bible not only in doctrine, but also in relationships.

The mind of a person plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

< Back to blog posts

Related Blog Posts Topics