Every child has a dream of someday doing something they were born to do. For some, it may be playing baseball, becoming President of the United States, or even an astronaut. But dreams can be scary things.
My dream was to become a writer. I didn’t always dare to follow that dream.
I tried. Shortly after my wife and I married, I left my job in retail with the aim of writing a novel that had been on the back burner. I made it about mid-way through before being absorbed by other pursuits. Good pursuits. Pastoring a church, in fact.
And so the dream got set aside.
I then helped start a school and developed curriculum for the humanities departments – writing was at the core of it, and I taught students to write. I also urged them to chase their dreams, even while mine lay sleeping soundly.
My life mission statement ended with these words: “To write, to live, to die.” Clearly, I understood writing to be at the heart of my story, even if I was doing little to nothing about it.
But there came a day – about five years ago this month – that I made a commitment to pursue the dream. At the time, I had no idea what that commitment might mean. But I wrote down the famous quotation from William H. Murray:
The moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.
I even talked to the students in a chapel assembly about the power of commitment, but only I knew the internal commitment I had made. I sensed that change was coming, but I didn’t know how or when. And, candidly, it scared me.
Dreams can do that. Scare you, I mean. Because pursuing a dream requires us to leave the known to explore the unknown.
For some of us, it’s even more difficult to imagine actually achieving the dream and envisioning success. We’ve grown so used to losing that we self-sabotage our own efforts because we don’t know how to deal with winning.
But here I am, five years later, a writer. I get paid to write. My writing helps people live a story worth telling. And I love it.
Three Things I Learned about Daring to Dream
I suspect you have dreams. Maybe you’ve followed them. Maybe you’ve let them slip away. Maybe you’ve had to set them aside for a season of life. Sometimes God needs to prepare us to be more fully equipped to do what He‘s put us here to do.
But do you still dare to dream?
By daring to dream – and trusting God to make a way for the dream he had given me – I learned a few things that may be of help to you as you consider the dreams you still dare to dream:
- A clear purpose produces courageous action. Once I got clear on my purpose – about three years prior to that decision – and on my strengths – about a year prior – I found the courage to follow my dream came much easier. I knew what I wanted to do and what I was wired to do. We should pay close attention to where our passions and strengths intersect. Apply those to a need in God’s world and you can make a unique contribution to God’s story. If you’ve never taken the time to get clear on your purpose, do so now. My friend Jeff Goins has written a terrific book called The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it! — Goethe
- A firm commitment produces a healthy discontent. When I committed to becoming a writer, I was not a writer. I was leading a thriving school. But my commitment created an awareness of the gap between where I was and where I should be. From that point forward, my subsconscious began working overtime to close that gap. By making a clear commitment and verbalizing it well to ourselves, we paint a picture of a new reality and create positive tension that pulls us toward our dream. The tension may be uncomfortable, but it is vital to our success.
- Patient persistence produces unprecedented results. One thing I hear on occasion is how lucky I seem to be. It’s not luck. Yes, it’s all God’s blessing, of course; He gives and He takes away. But he also promises to prosper the hand of the diligent. It’s taken a lot of hard work – a lot. And there will always be more to be done. But as another friend of mine, Steve Kaloper, says, “Positive activity creates opportunity.” I once heard this bit of advice from a pastor: Never underestimate how little can be done in one year and how much can be done in three years. Along this journey to follow my dream, I’ve faced frustration and disappointment. Believe me, almost nothing has worked out the way I thought it would. But persisting in the process produced other possibilities. The path God had for me was not the one I had planned, even though the destination was the same – only better.
Question: Which of these lessons have you found to be most true for you? What dreams have you set aside that you may need to revisit? Share your thoughts by clicking here.