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Learning to Plan without Practicing Worry



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Planning isn’t a bad thing. In fact, being a good steward with our time and resources is one of the ways we can glorify God in this world.

This is part two of Embracing Concern, Rejecting Worry—an excerpt series from Louie Giglio’s Winning the War on Worry.

 Ephesians 5:15–16 says to “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

So how do we do that? How do we plan and show concern without tipping over into worry? Well, first we need to define some terms to make sure we’re all on the same page. 

Let’s look at how we define planning.

Planning is a constructive and tangible process where steps and actions are linked together for future outcomes. When we are planning well, variables are considered and countered, and best practices rise to the top and are acted on.

While planning, contingencies are always in place for unexpected events or delays. But these contingency plans do not impede our ability to move toward the next step with confidence.

In other words, planning is about leveraging your gifts and resources around what is in your hand at this moment, and moving it forward, step by step.

Now let’s look at worry.

If planning is a constructive and tangible process, worry is the projection of an endless string of what-if scenarios that absorbs all present effort (what you could be doing with what is currently in your hands). This string of what ifs often brings fear and paralysis that keeps us from our next steps.

Planning focuses on the present and on what is in your hands, while occasionally looking ahead to factor in what is to come. Worry fixates on the future, while occasionally circling back to “work” on what is currently in front of you.

Do you see the difference?

The third servant in the story of the talents got paralyzed by the what ifs. What if I lose the money? What if I’m not capable? What if the other servants outearn me? What if I get sick or injured? What if something big happens to all the livestock in my town and I’m caught up in financial ruin? What if I fail? What if I lose my job? My family? My home?

Scripture actually says he was “afraid” (Matthew 25:25). Isn’t it interesting that the result of getting caught in the web of what ifs is fear? Remember how I mentioned that worry is rooted in fear? In this parable we see Jesus showing us that connection. 

While the first two servants were concerned and practiced good planning, this servant got stuck in a stream of worry. And once he got into the stream, he eventually got stuck in the whirlpool of self-doubt.

In our fast-paced, multitasking world, it can be easy, even natural, to think seven steps ahead. To always be projecting far-out scenarios and mental models of what might happen. If we spend too much time hanging around the what ifs, the toxicity of worry begins to poison our hearts and minds.

It’s not wrong to admit that the occasional what if can be helpful. Like we covered earlier, every so often when you’re building a plan, you need to look ahead. But you can’t live there. You can’t fixate so much on the ideas of tomorrow that you cease living in the realities of today. Not only is it detrimental to your spiritual health, but psychology and sociology have proven that it’s actually a large waste of time and effort. As we mentioned earlier in this book, research actually shows us that most of the what ifs that we project and dwell on don’t ever happen.

According to Psychology Today, in a small study done at Penn State University, scientists and doctors set out to expose a group of volunteers to as many possible stress-points as was feasible in a ten-day window. Then they observed if those stress-points, or what ifs, actually came to pass.

After thirty days of observation, the team conducting the study noted that 91 percent of worries did not materialize. Yes, 91 percent!

What does this mean for us? It means that what’s most important is what is in our hands right now—what we are tangibly carrying. Yes, the future is important, and wise preparation will almost certainly be beneficial, but if 91 percent of future worries never come to pass, we need to get out of the stream of worry and what ifs and get back on to the path of making the most of what God has assigned to us today.


We’ve spent some time looking at Scripture and science. Now let’s downshift and get practical for a moment. Because here’s the reality about planning: you can talk about it all you want, but eventually you need to cross that line from theoretical to practical. So how can you plan without tipping over into worry? Here are a few steps.

Do what is in your hands to do today. (And, by the way, crush it!) Do your absolute best work, not for men but for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). The servants who invested the money for their master did a great job. They doubled their deposit!

Don’t pick up any not-yet-realized challenges until necessary. Jesus said that today has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34), so don’t add to tomorrow’s challenges ahead of time.

Recognize that the Master is returning and stay prepared. We’ve been entrusted with something valuable—the King’s things (Luke 12:42–43). If that’s the case, we should be grateful, humbled, and ready for His return.

Planning well and steering clear from worry means that we embrace the mentality of

I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean we get to totally stop thinking about the bridge or even that we get to quit working to prepare for some of the necessary details of crossing the bridge.

But it does mean we don’t allow ourselves to fall into the trap of worrying about if the bridge might have collapsed before we even get to it.

If you take one more look at the parable of the talents, you may think, I’m all in on focusing on what has been placed in my hands. But Louie, what if what’s in my hands is too much for me to carry?

This is a valid question, and it’s one that Jesus answered in a few simple words. In Matthew 25:15 Jesus said, “To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability” (NKJV).

God puts things into your hands according to your ability and His power to work in and through you. If He’s entrusted it to you, you can carry it. If He’s calling you to it, He will be faithful and help you through it. If He’s placed it in your hands, you don’t need to worry about where it will end up. You just need to prepare, plan, and stay ready—because the King will come back for the King’s things.


Father, I bring to You the things I am concerned about. Help me make wise choices to bring about the best outcomes in every situation. Give me the grace to place what I cannot control into Your hands with confidence and peace.

If you want to keep reading from Winning the War on Worryclick here  to grab a copy of this special resource.

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Scripture References

  • Matthew 25:25
  • Luke 12:42–43
  • Matthew 6:34
Louie Giglio

Global Pastor

Louie Giglio Louie Giglio is the Visionary Architect and Director of the Passion Movement, comprised of Passion Conferences, Passion City Church, Passion Publishing and sixstepsrecords, and the founder of Passion Institute.