Prepare for Problems with a Pre-Mortem

David G Bowman
3 min readSep 18, 2022


Ezra 4:4, 5 Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building. They bribed officials to work against them and frustrate their plans during the entire reign of Cyrus king of Persia and down to the reign of Darius king of Persia.

‭‭Ezra‬ ‭4:4–5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Every project should include a pre-mortem. Every plan should take into account what could go wrong. Every opportunity to do something good and meaningful will face resistance. This is one of the themes of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

The Resistance Can Leave You All Wet

A church was in a building project. The project took longer to complete than anticipated largely because of two weeks of rain that filled the hole dug for the foundation. The hole became a lake. It took a long time to empty the unplanned pond and for the ground to firm up enough for the heavy equipment necessary for the successive stages of the project.

A special event for an outside entity was planned for the new worship center. It was placed on the calendar months in advance. The schedule at that time included plenty of cushion to accommodate ordinary construction delays. However, the two weeks of rain and its aftermath were extraordinary. One of the organizers of the special event complained when the building looked like it was not going to be ready.

If there is one thing well-meaning people cannot control, it’s the weather. Complain all you like, sometimes it rains. A lot. For a long time.

The building was completed in time. The last step was receiving a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). The CO was not looking good since the completion of the building project occurred mere hours before the big event. Long story shortened, a provisional CO was issued. Additional details were completed after the big event.

Whatever Could Possibly Go Wrong Probably Will

Take a look at the projects before you. What could go wrong? What are your contingency plans? If this project fails, what will kill it?

Every project has problems. When a problem pops up, go to God. Seek his wisdom and direction. There are some problems only he can solve.

Read Ezra 4–6. Notice how the problems in these chapters were solved before the project began. God had already moved the heart of a former king to make possible what faced such resistance at every step. It is good to know what God has said. It is good to align our work with his truth. It is good to trust his heart when we cannot trace his hand.

Where does God fit into your plans? If he doesn’t, be sure to add this uncomfortable reality to your pre-mortem. Know for sure the effect of the absence of his purpose, provision, and protection. Get ready to fail repeatedly.


I will seek God’s purpose, provision, and protection for every project.


Our Father, only you can see everything before us as we make our plans. Give us increasing measures of wisdom to turn to you in our planning. May it always align with your purpose. May it always attune to your heart. May it always receive your provision. May it always exist under your protection. Amen.



David G Bowman

I help people live better lives than they dreamed possible. @davidgbowman #lifedesign #lifeplanning #maximizeyourstory #DailyD