Last week and the first part of this week, I was on vacation. So when I logged on to my work computer yesterday, I had a large number of emails to work through. My first instinct was to create a plan. Should I sort the emails by sender or by date? Should I handle the easy emails first and save the more difficult ones for later? In the end, I just started reading them, one at a time, in reverse sequential order.
In March 1832, Stephen Burnett was called to serve as a missionary. The Lord assigned him a companion and told him what he should preach. But regarding where to preach, the Lord merely said the following:
Go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss.Doctrine and Covenants 80:3
When the sons of Mosiah began their mission among the Lamanites, “they separated themselves and departed from one another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest” (Alma 17:13). They each sought guidance from the Lord about where they should go (Alma 17:17), but they apparently didn’t coordinate those decisions, and they certainly didn’t create a detailed plan to ensure that they were covering every Lamanite city. There was so much work to do that they simply needed to go out and get started. No matter where they went, there would be someone who needed to hear their message.
I’m not suggesting that planning is unnecessary. Some kinds of work require thoughtful organization and coordination of efforts. But there are other kinds of work in which a large number of similar things need to get done and the order really doesn’t matter. When you face that kind of task, the Lord’s guidance to Stephen Burnett seems appropriate: Do something. Anything. You can’t go wrong. Just get started.
Today I will get moving on the work I need to do. I will remember that some planning is unnecessary and may actually be keeping me from getting the job done.