Friday, May 9, 2014

Dream Killers

I have been away from the computer for a few days, but I want to take a quick break from our Wovenist Answers posts.  I want to take a quick aside today and talk about dreams and those who kill them.  I would classify myself as a dreamer, though as I grow older it may be a more jaded dreamer.  I have dreams of what I want to do, including writing and publishing and coaching and counseling and doing church consulting and working to help churches achieve dreams.  I have these dreams of all I want to do in ministry, of this house church network that others are having great success with and may be the Post Christian American model.  I have dreams and I have lived a few.  I worked in college ministry, I worked in youth ministry, I was Pastor of Education (basically, didn't title) for years and I was loving it.  There are things in church ministry that I adore, helping people achieve dreams mostly.  I love to see people empowered to do ministry, to see people fall in love with God.  I love it when people dream big and achieve big and grow close to God in the process.  My dreams were true for a while, but sometimes something wakes you from the dream.

Not everyone shares the same dreams.  Sometimes their dreams require yours to die, and sometimes they are in the position to kill your dream.  Sometimes people mean well, but they don't understand, they have different priorities.  Especially in the church, members with a passion different from yours, with a dream that doesn't involve what you are doing will kill your dream.  Discipleship vs growth sometimes occurs.  Care vs outreach, or theology vs pragmatics.  Even ethics vs results can cause conflict and lead to the death of a dream.  The dream can be shattered suddenly, all of the sudden it's over.  The dream can be slowly eroded as you see your labor be in vain.  Your dream can be crushed by an angry church member who works to destroy you, a member of the board who has a different goal, someone who disagrees with your theology, or a lead pastor who is going a different way.  It doesn't mean these people are bad, it doesn't mean they are evil or out to get you (sometimes they are).  It just happens when dreams conflict, and sometimes your dream has crushed theirs in the past.  Remember, it's a fallen world.

The fallen world also kills dreams.  The reality of life is that we need an income to survive.  I would do ministry for free if I could, I would write and teach and preach and lead and coach and help and not take a dime, but I have bills and a family and money is required.  I have to eat so I have to work for a paycheck.  Dreams can be killed by the reality that your dreams won't pay the bills.  Much of those things I dream about are in short supply because of the reality of money.  I want to work for a company called Lifeway, it's been a dream since I was in High School (20 years ago), but there are more people applying that job openings.  There are people with more education, more experience and a better resume, and my dream gives way in the face of reality.  I won't give up on my dream, I continue to gain experience and I work on my skills and make goals.  Maybe one day it will be true, but in the mean time, I am not living much of my dream.  I love writing and I have been fortunate to write a great deal.  Publishing, however, comes harder and necessary things like editors and agents come at a cost (they have to eat too).  When you are not living your dream, when you are working outside your field you are not going to get rich.  The reality of the lack of income vs the need to achieve your dream is often a dream killer.

Money, time, rejection can all kill your dream.  As you struggle to overcome odds, there will be people lined up to tell you why your dream is a dumb idea.  They will tell you how it won't work, you can't afford it, you can't achieve it and you shouldn't bother.  They will tell you how hard it will be and how likely you are to fail.  I have a dream to plant a house church network.  I can't right now, in my current job, but I dream.  I am often told, it will be hard, house churches don't make it, there are already too many churches, I should just give up.  I'm not going too, I know it's going to be hard and it's a battle.

What is a dreamer to do in the face of the hordes of dream killers?  Should we just keep dreaming all together?  I'll admit that sometimes in my darker days, it's tempting.  It would be easier to just give up a dream and let it go.  We shouldn't do that.  We can keep the dreams alive.  First, make sure your dreams are God's dreams.  I have this church planting thing in my heart and I didn't put it there.  I have this writing thing, this disciplining and teaching thing in my heart in a place only God can reach.  My dreams come from who God has shaped me to be, and no dream killer can trump God.  I keep going because God keeps me going.

You should find an encourager.  Yes, I made up a word.  Technically, it's an encouraging person, and they are few and far between.  There will be people lined up to discourage you, many who love you.  They will say "this is for your own good" because they don't want you to fail.  It happens, and I'm sorry but those closest too you will sometimes squash your dreams.  Maybe they are worried about you, maybe they are just worried.  Not everyone has a gift of encouragement.  I don't.  I have to force myself to encourage people, my flesh is sarcastic and cynical.  It's poison to your dream and people will flow it out of them like water.  You have to find someone who supports your dream, who believes in your dream and who will encourage you, support you and pray for you.  Hang on to that person, share your dreams with that person and thank that person.  On a side note, don't expect to find that person on Social Media or by blogging.

Find those who have achieved your dream and ask for help.  I'm not planning this home church network from scratch, there are great successes out there.  I have my own spin on it, but I am looking to others who are doing similar things and asking for help.  I am constantly reading other writers, looking at those who are successful in writing, blogging, communicating and editing.  I try to stick close to guys at Lifeway, to learn as much as I can from my little corner of Iowa.  I read Thom Rainer and Ed Stetzer and David Francis and Trevin Wax because they are living their version of my dream.  They are smart and gifted men, but they are still men who have struggles and failures as well as victories.  I try to learn as much as I can from those who are dreaming big.

Sometimes you have to rest.  There is this idea of go, go, go and never stop.  You can do that, and as a result, you will burn out.  There have been great men of history who pushed hard and made huge strides and they often died young and painful deaths.  Spurgeon was not a healthy guy.  You will get tired, you will get sick, you will get burned out and drained.  You are human, even Jesus took a nap in the front of the boat.  Rest and play golf or go fishing or watch a movie.  What good is a dream if it becomes a nightmare.

Keep dreaming, and keep taking steps forward.  I know I have more dreams than I can handle, but I am focusing on the ones that I know are God given.  I hope God has filled your heart and mind with great dreams and that He empowers you to take the steps forward.  It's hard, and you will struggle, but if the dream came easy, you wouldn't love it so much, right?  Hears to the dream.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like I share the house church dream with you, since we talked about it at work so much, and that's still something that I look forward to doing with you.
    My advice is to just keep working at your dreams. Dreams will remain dreams if you never do anything about them. If you work at making them concrete plans then you have a better chance at succeeding. Your house church is the church that I will attend and be a part of. I've already made that decision. Your house church is what this community needs.
    I just wish there was a kickstarter for churches. Because wouldn't that be cool?
    Keep working towards your dream and you'll have no choice but to achieve it.