I never got into Google+. I don’t know any friends who did either.
According to a recent article by Seth Fiegerman at Mashable, “Google’s effort to build a social network to rival Facebook began with a bold, company-wide yell. Now Google appears to be winding down Google+ with barely a whimper.”
Google is known for organic technological innovation. But according to Fiegerman’s research, their Google+ project started out of fear and was sustained in its continual struggles by leadership unwilling to assess the venture honestly and make decisions based on what really mattered for the company.
Mashable’s Fiegerman says that the chief architect of Google+, Vic Gundotra, eventually persuaded Larry Page (Google cofounder and CEO) to “turn the company upside down for this cause.” “Vic was just this constant bug in Larry’s ear: ‘Facebook is going to kill us. Facebook is going to kill us,’ says a former Google executive. ‘I am pretty sure Vic managed to frighten Larry into action. And voila: Google+ was born.'”
According to Fiegerman, some of Google’s employees lay the blame for the failure of Google+ “on the top-down structure of the Google+ department and a leadership team that viewed success as the only option for the social network. Failures and disappointing data were not widely discussed.”
So are we supposed to make bold plans and take risks? Or are we supposed to be cautious?
When it comes to making decisions, some of us Christians get frozen because we can’t figure out what God wants us to do. We fear failure; we are unable to move forward for fear of being out of God’s will.
Others of us have no trouble making decisions, often boldly choosing what we want to do. These people are often admired in our culture because they display such certainty. Christian leaders that are like this are seen as brave leaders, the kind that will be successful.
What does the Bible say?
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ — yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance.” (James 4:13-16)
Imagine James sitting in the top-brass meetings at Google in 2011 when they determined that they had to launch a Facebook competitor and that it would just have to be profitable, no matter what. Imagine what advice he would have given them later as Google+ was clearly losing the company money but the leadership refused to acknowledge it.Notice that James is not against making bold plans. He just wants us to not be arrogant about them. He wants us to rid ourselves of the sheer determinism that we alone are the Lord of our destinies. He wants us to have attitudes of humility as we make our plans. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Humble Decision Making
After spending a short time in Ephesus teaching in the synagogue, Paul had to head back to Antioch. The Jews there did not want him to leave so fast, so Paul said to them, “I will come back if it is God’s will” (Acts 18:21).
Paul didn’t shy away from making decisions; he boldly went places and did things. But all the while he knew that it would be foolhardy to make plans that would not take into account the sovereignty of the Lord of lords. He knew that no matter what, God got the final say.
Paul knew to always say, “If it is God’s will.” But this was not just a religious phrase he tacked onto the end of sentences. It was a real, deep-seated attitude that came from experience. He had learned to submit to God’s timing and God’s plans.
Paul had seen God do incredible things that he had not seen coming, starting when he was blinded by the light of Jesus on the road to Damascus. Didn’t see that coming.
From that point on, he was set toward a purpose. Certainly he’d make his missionary plans, but he had learned that they not always turned out as he thought they would. And he was okay with that.
He agreed with James that arrogance is the enemy of good planning.
Yes, we are allowed to make plans. In fact, we must make plans. But we must be willing to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” We have to submit to God determining our steps. We can work hard and be diligent like Paul, but we must be willing to adopt the attitude that he had when he said, “If it is God’s will.”
We are reminded that “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
Sometimes making bold decisions are very difficult to make. Sometimes submitting to the fact that we’ve got to change course is the hardest thing to do. But we must do it.
So what’s next for me? What’s next for you?
It’s time to start planning.
If the Lord wills, I will live and do this or that.
I find that it is very good and comforting to be able to say that.