Sandwiches, Rocket Ships, and Money in the Bank

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Early every morning, in kitchens around the world, people prepare and pack lunches for themselves.  It’s actually not all that easy to do this because, for most of us, the smell of lunchmeat or pickles at 6:30 a.m. is pretty disgusting.  Even the thought of such food that early in the morning can launch a gag reflex.  But if you want a lunch to eat five-and-a-half hours later today, you’re going to have to prepare for it before you’re hungry.

When NASA prepares to launch a rocket to meet up with Mars or Saturn, the engineers don’t aim their space crafts at the planet.  They aim them where the celestial body will be by the time their module gets there. 

And it’s not unlike a quarterback throwing a pass to where his receiver will be by the time the ball arrives.

In business, and in life, this type of behavior is called strategic planning—doing something before you need to so when the need actually arises, you’ll be ready.  This takes discipline.  It’s thankless and immediately unrewarding work.

The leadership story of Joseph in Egypt is an incredible one. And his rise from prison to power is one of the greatest accounts of strategic planning in history; he saved rain during prosperity so his nation would have “money in the bank” for the famine.  (See Genesis 41 to read more.)

Can you imagine the people, during those first seven years of prosperity, who must have tried to talk Joseph out of some of his storehouse?  “Come on, Joseph, let’s eat all the good stuff now.  What are you waiting for?”

The task of being a good, strategic father is this: Do things for your children now, and cast a vision for them, not based on where your children are today, but based on where they’re going to be.  Make investments of discipline, tenderness, and instruction, not because your children will applaud your efforts today (They may even try to talk you out of this plan.), but because when they get to the future, they’re going to need to cash in on the investment you’ve made today.

By the way, if this sounds like a lot of thankless work, remember Joseph’s word to the Pharaoh who asked him for his advice: “I cannot do it . . . but God will . . .” (Genesis 41:16).