Monday, December 18, 2006

That’ll Never Work? Let’s Just See About That!

There’s a man of God today promoting a certain message of multi-generational faithfulness. He is the father of five sons and two daughters. This man’s name is Geoffrey Botkin. Geoff Botkin has not always been a prime example of a Christian father. In fact, he is a former Marxist. However, you could not tell that today based on his commitment to Christ and his resolve to lead his family according to Christian principles.

Mr. Botkin spoke at our church when we were attending Sovereign Grace Family Church in Carrollton, Texas. He also spoke at the Vision Forum Entrepreneurial Bootcamp in August 2006. In his messages, Mr. Botkin has outlined a “200-year” plan for his family. In this plan, he records family history, and plans out the future. Then he charges his sons to produce their own plans beginning at their marriage dates. Of course, these plans will overlap greatly. Yet, each plan will be unique as new families are formed, and the vision is passed to the next generation.

I have begun my own plan. My wife and I married in 1990. So, I did the easy part first, documenting what has happened since then! But I have also begun to plot out the future dates. My wife was not too crazy about seeing a planned “death date,” so I made a general rule that everyone in my chart who is currently living (or not born yet) will live to be 100 years old. If we exceed that, then Praise God! If not…well, that’s fine too. The point is that most of us will have anywhere from 80-100 years. This plan helps to see just how much (and how many) we can expect to influence in our relatively brief lifetimes. I have yet to find out Mr. Botkin’s exact columns that he used. His presentations were given so fast, it was hard to copy all the information. However, what I realized is that he has given a great inspiration. I can fill in my own details.

I have created this plan in an Excel spreadsheet. Down the left side of the spreadsheet, I have a row for each year including and between 1990 and 2190. My current column headings include “Family Members,” “Publications,” “Skills Learned,” “Businesses Established,” “Ministry Initiatives,” and “Historic Remembrances.” I will add new columns as I deem it necessary.

Under “Family Members,” I list each descendent of mine with their birth dates in the appropriate year, along with the date they turn 13, the date they marry, the date they turn 45, and the date they die. My general rule is that at this point, I am only planning descendents for those who have already been born. Otherwise it gets too confusing with a lack of names. When planning future sons and daughters, they are listed as “son #4.” Grandchildren are currently listed as “Justin’s #3” for example. 13 is significant because that formally marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. 45 is significant because I have arbitrarily set that age as the date that the Lord’s blessing of children stops. If God chooses to bless beyond that age, then “Praise God!” However, for purposes of planning, this is the arbitrary age. As I mentioned, 100 years is the “planned” lifespan of everyone.

“Publications” lists the books that each family member has or will publish. It is recorded in the year in which is happens, along with the month, as well as the author’s name, and possible title.

“Skills Learned” will detail things like learning a foreign language, learning to play a musical instrument, etc. The “accomplishment” date is the date whereby a rudimentary skill is achieved. Of course, these skills will improve with practice. But this plan will help us to keep focused.

“Businesses Established” help to encourage entrepreneurial endeavors, thereby ensuring a life of freedom for each of our descendents where they will not be dependent upon an employer for their livelihood.

“Ministry Initiatives” detail ways that the Lord is using each of us as His body doing His work on this Earth. We should always be found doing our “Father’s Business.”

Finally, I added “Historic Remembrances” to help us remember the “ancient landmarks” laid by those who went before us. In this column, I put anniversaries that we hope to attend as a family, such as the Jamestown 400 celebration next year. There will be many of these celebrations over these 200 years. Because of this column I already know that I want to visit Germany on October 31, 2017 for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation.

I’m excited about making these plans. I realize that the plan must remain flexible. Not everyone will live to be 100. Each son or daughter may not have all the children I have planned for them. The important thing is, though, that I am teaching them to desire God’s blessings in every area of their life. It is a time of training to take dominion over this Earth and subdue it. What I do expect, however, is that every single child, and every single descendent beyond them will live a life dedicated to Jesus Christ. Every one of these children will trust their fathers to lead them in the courtship process when considering marriage. There will be none lost.

In sharing some of these goals with an extended family member, he simply shook his head, and proclaimed, “That’ll never work.” One thing’s for sure, if you don’t try, then you know you won’t receive the results. But with God’s help, I believe that I can set the expectations for two centuries to come, and that my children after me will carry this same vision forward to their descendents forever.


Anonymous said...

God bless you, brother. Ever since I heard the message Geoff Botkin gave at the 2006 Entrepenurial Bootcamp, God has impressed on my heart the need to make a vision plan. Like you I have not seen Geoff's plan but reading your blog inspired and helped me. Thank you.

Neil Schultz said...

Is there a possibility of emailing your plan or posting it to your blog? I've been scouring the internet since I bought the 2006 Entrepreneurial Boot Camp CD's and listened to Botkin's message. I haven't found any examples. I really want to do this exercise, however, seeing it with my eyes would help give me an idea on how to start.

Thank you brother!

Mike Southerland said...

I'll see about trying to get it up here on my blog or my website. It's still a bit skimpy, but it could point you in the right direction. I was present at the bootcamp, and Mr. Botkin was pressed for time. So he quickly went over his chart, and I barely had time to scribble any notes about what columns he had. But, after thinking about it, it's probably more effective to come up with our our columns of what we consider important. This will help us to "grab hold" of the vision to pass on to our sons. Otherwise, if it's completely someone else's idea, then it may be like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. In any case, let me try and get mine out there somewhere as an example.

Mike Southerland said...

OK, You can download my very rudimentary plan at 200 Year Plan.xls. Like I said, this will need constant revision, and I'm realizing I've already missed one of my dates for business ideas.

Harlan Paulson said...

Mike, I also am looking for examples of a plan. Sorry to find your Southerland 200 year plan.xls is now a broken link....

Mike Southerland said...


I'll see what I can do about restoring the link. That's the problem with not owning your own server. I put stuff out there; I don't change it; but after months go by the link no longer works.

Things have been really hectic lately so I haven't even had time to put new stuff out here. I'll try to get this out there though in the next day or two.

Thank you for your patience.


Unknown said...

Is there any way that you could update that link to the sample 200 year plan excel sheet. The link doesn't seem to work

Thanks :)

Mike Southerland said...

I'll see what I can do. I posted this back in 2006. My server has changed a couple of times since then. After almost 4 years, I can say that when my relative commented about "That'll never work," he may have been partially right, but I hope that I'm still right on the things that matter. For in all honestly, I've done a poor job of keeping the 200 year plan up to date. However, I would hope that I have not lost my sons and daughters. We certainly have had challenges along the way, but God is long suffering and gracious with His children.

If you look at my archives for January 2009 you should see an entry for the manhood ceremony we had for my son on his birthday, December 27, 2008. That went extremely well and I certainly plan to do that for each of my sons. My daughters' have had their ceremonies slightly different, which is OK because they are different.

So the "that'll never work," if it refers to keeping this 200 year plan updated constantly for the next 180 years (we recently celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary this year!) may be accurate. But if the forecast is that we will lose our children to the world and they will rebel just like everyone else...then I still hold my stance and declare that by the grace of God, that will not be true.

(I'll try and get the file out on a common area when I get a few spare moments.)

Thanks for your patience.