Today in church we go to hear a message from The Freestyle Pastor. The Freestyle Pastor is not my pastor, as in not The Pastor that I am married to, not as in #notmypastor. This is a treat because hearing from new and different people brings a fresh and different perspective which, sadly, many churches are lacking.
Today The Freestyle Pastor was preaching on dreams. Not the dreams that you dream at night but the dreams that are in your heart, the things you wish for. This was really interesting to me because it ties in so neatly with things that The Pastor and I have been talking about recently. Mostly, why the heck aren’t more of the people we know living their dreams?
This is made more confusing when I think of how many of the people I know are Christians who will state that God gave them this dream. So, if you really believe that God gave you this dream, why aren’t you pursuing it? And if you have started pursuing it, why did you stop? There is nothing worse than hearing someone complain about how much they hate their life, job, or even car, and yet they are doing nothing to change the situation. It makes me ask “Do you really hate it that much, or do you just love to complain more?”
Thinking about this topic has brought me to two answers. One I came to by talking to The Pastor. The other I came to by Listening to The Freestyle Pastor. I’ll discuss the second one first because…obviously.
When you first start to dream about something and decide you actually want it, you need to take the first step. This seems like an obvious thing, but for many people it is completely overwhelming. Why? Because we think we want to see the whole path. Dreams are shrouded in mystery and darkness. You will never see the whole path. This is partly because your path to get somewhere is going to be a bit different than anyone else’s. My path to being a farmer is going to look nothing like my grandfather’s. That’s okay because I’m not a WW2 veteran living in the 1950’s.
The other reason you will never see the whole path is because you would probably quit if you did.
The Appalachian Trail is a hiking trail that starts in Georgia and ends in Maine. Hiking it is a dream that a lot of people have. Very few people actually hike it, though. It’s not because most people suck at walking, it’s because the idea of walking 2,200 miles is really overwhelming. In reality, though, people who hike the entire thing usually walk about ten miles each day, sometimes more when they feel ambitious. Ten miles does not seem anywhere near as overwhelming as 2,200 miles.
When I was very little I wanted to be a story teller. My father was an excellent story teller and I wanted to be like Him. As I grew older, I thought that all I had to do was write a novel and publish it. Well, after sitting at the computer for three whole hours and not having an entire novel written, I gave up. Obviously writers were far more organized and better typists than I was. Then, a couple of years ago I realized that you don’t just sit down and write a novel. You start smaller. Like with a blog.
If you want to be a prima ballerina, don’t start by focusing on tryouts for the New York City Ballet, start by taking a beginner dance class. If you want to stop smoking for the rest of your life, start by not smoking this day, or maybe even just this moment. Don’t worry about the whole journey, just worry about the next step.
The other reason people aren’t living their dreams is because we don’t want to burn our ships. The Pastor likes to use the illustration of Hernan Cortes. For six hundred years people had tried to conquer South America. The Aztecs were strong, however, and for 600 years people failed. Hernan Cortes then decided that he would take a group and try. Upon landing on the shores of South America, one of the first things Cortes did was order all of his ships burned. He did this so that the only option he and his men had was to move forward.
When dealing with our big dreams, we too often have a fallback. That thing we can retreat to if things get to hard. You will see this a lot in people who want to start their own business or make a drastic career change but keep their old job. You see it in people who want to live someplace warm and sunny but refuse to sell their house or quit their job in Fargo. It’s like trying to swim against the current with a life jacket on. It may keep you afloat, but you’re never going to move in the direction you want if you don’t take it off.
The biggest ship that I see people refusing to burn is self denial. A lot of times someone’s next step is as simple as a professional haircut, a business wardrobe, or a class, but because of the weird psychological games we play with ourselves, we don’t think we should have those things. Oh, we may blame it on the money, but in reality it’s like we think that to be better Christians, we need to deny ourselves more things. No. To be better Christians we need to love more people. Go ahead and get the thing. Especially if it will get you closer to your dream. Need permission? I just gave it to you.
Now, think to yourself and answer these questions.
What is your dream?
What is the next step to get there?
What ships do you need to burn?
My dream is that you will scroll down and “like” this blog and then share it. Don’t deny me or I might see you as my ship!