“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
As the chief executive officer of a county government with 2,000 employees and a $750 million budget, I have been swamped by the local impact of the national financial crisis. The county has seen its investment earnings and sales and property tax incomes plummet. Like every other state and local government, these reductions have forced us to examine every service the county provides and how efficiently it provides them; and while government jobs have long been considered some of the safest around, words such as “furlough” and “layoff” now are commonplace, not just in my neck of the woods but everywhere else as well.
I am fortunate to have a budget staff of seven that assists me in managing the crisis my county is now facing. I have a senior analyst who chides me every year for focusing mainly on the budget year in which I am working. This year, he again has emphasized his concern as we consider strategies for dealing with a $16-plus million budget shortfall.
“You need to take a more long-term view of our situation this year, Mr. Manager,” he said. “Any temporary measure we take such as furloughs will only delay the inevitable. We need to take actions that will make our problems go away so we don’t have to face them again next year.”
On the surface, he makes a lot of sense. But because “actions that make our problems go away” affect employees and their families, I want to be sure I understand what tomorrow might bring before I make a decision about it today. So instead of permanently eliminating a job held by an employee, I have decided to opt for more temporary strategies wherever possible. Why? Because if the economy improves next year, a decision to lay off an employee today would turn not to have been the right decision. If the economy doesn’t improve, I still have time to consider such alternatives.
I told our analyst, the same thing I tell him every year: “I will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow gets here. It’s today that concerns me now.”
Actually, my philosophy about dealing with annual budgets is made in light of a long-standing biblical truth that Jesus taught to his disciples. “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
My experience has validated this truth time and time again. Jesus’ point is we worry not only about things we cannot control, but also about things that often don’t matter. While the context of his warning is about how we fret over material things, the truth he is teaching transcends materialism. Jesus’ point is we should focus on what we know and not what we think.
So, while I choose not to worry about tomorrow, it does not mean that I choose not to prepare for it. And you shouldn’t either. But we should not let it consume us because we have a savior who is standing in all of our tomorrows – one who is watching out for us. He expects us to do what we need to do today, and trust him to help us with whatever tomorrow might bring our way.