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Practical Dreaming

“WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR THE GLORY OF GOD IF YOU KNEW YOU WOULD NOT FAIL?!” Dr. Jay Strack declares in a booming voice.

There you sit, in a sea of young, like-minded, optimistic leaders with thoughts running through your brain at an adrenaline-charged pace. Your mind races with floods of ideas or maybe one primary thought occupies your mind. Either way you feel empowered. 

Time comes to a standstill. The seconds are passing by and it’s time to write something down. Pen in hand, you refuse to move on from this moment until the ink spills and spells something on the empty page looking back at you, daring you to think and dream differently.

Empty page conquered. You were not deterred nor defeated… you stared back at that page and with each word written, you erased the option of being average or mediocre.

Now you can breathe, maybe even sit back and look around the room. Occasionally you catch the eye of another dream-conqueror who, like you, is standing on the top of Mount Impossible enjoying the view. 

Soon the session, and conference, comes to an end and the intoxicating question transitions from what would you do for the glory of God if you knew you would not fail to “What now?” 

Fear not my friend, because we have all been there. And chances are if you are a dreamer you will be here again. You are like those who dare to ask and answer questions others deem unrealistic or impossible, those who find themselves staring into the forest of possibility imagining the path before them. 

You see, this dreaming business isn’t as simple as a Robert Frost poem, “There were two paths in the woods and I took the one less traveled.” Dreamers dare to create a path that has never been traveled, never planned out, all the while believing God gave them the creativity and ability to accomplish more than even they could imagine. 

Which brings us to the ‘what now?’ question. What is the practical side of dreaming? Or how does one dream practically? How does a dreamer look at the massive forest of possibility and begin to create a path? 

  • What is the story of your dream? By that I mean, when you answered the question in a session at SLU 101, what you wrote down probably took up maybe half a page of paper. Now create the margin, an entire afternoon, evening, heck, even a full day, to continue imagining what could and should be. Think of your dream like a story. Sit down with a journal, a glowing screen, or even a whiteboard and tell the story of your dream. Dreamers are authors! Your creativity needs a narrative, the tale that is your ingenuity and inventiveness. Always begin with story.
  • What are the dreams within the dreamI am a firm believer that momentum is the compounding interest of a series of accomplishments, or goals set and met. Therefore, to gain momentum, create a series of objectives within the larger scope of your dream. To borrow from the poet Edgar Allan Poe’s “A Dream Within a Dream”, these goals will become chapters in the story of your dream. But remember, goals always have deadlines.
  • Who is your dream-teamDreams are not pursued in a vacuum. Those who cultivate change for the glory of God rarely do it on their own. Your creativity will require collaboration with those who, likewise, believe in better days. With each chapter, with each goal set and pursued, you will need relationships that help, equip, encourage, correct, and critique in a way that pursues the stated goal. Think of your dream-team like a team of people helping someone run a marathon:
    • Some relationships are instrumental, like the running partner who runs five miles with you for the purpose of pace setting and company.
    • Some simply encourage you from the sidelines like supporters who paint cardboard signs and stand in the crowd to encourage one runner coming by.
    • Some are strategically positioned along the way to offer you resources like food and drink to help fuel you through the race.
    • And many will be there when you cross the finish line to celebrate the dream accomplished.
  • What are the present and foreseeable obstacles to the dream coming to fruitionWith any dream there are obstacles. While some obstacles can’t be predicted, many can be anticipated and prepared for. So, with each chapter in the narrative of your answer to that amazing question Dr. Jay asked in his booming voice, articulate a list of hindrances to your progress. You can even title the list, ‘what might get in my way’. Then go to work running interference on your interferrences. Where there is a resource shortage as an obstacle, turn that into someone’s opportunity to source that part of your dream. Cashflow, personnel, technology, time, and the list goes on and on. Run interference on your interferences by giving help and hope to your hindrances. And we haven’t even mentioned that problems can direct your prayer life. Remember, God has never been threatened by any obstacle or challenge.
  • Study the history of dreamersHistory is littered with those who dreamed and believed, individuals God used to do the seemingly impossible. Men and women like: William Wilberforce, Hannah Moore, Elizabeth Fry, William and Catherine Booth, Abraham Lincoln, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dr. Martin Luther King, and the list could go on. These are some of the obvious ones, but I promise you there are thousands who don’t even get an honorable mention in many history text books, just waiting for you to discover them. History contains incredible and relevant insights available for anyone willing to look. Therefore, historical events usually hold the keys to doors that need to be unlocked in order to pursue a greater future.
  • Know that scars and failure are going to be a part of your dream’s story. Scars are permanent reminders that, “if it was easy, everyone would do it.” Along the way you will fail, along the way you’re gonna get some scars. So move forward gloriously failing over and over again realizing that failure helps eliminate the options that won’t work. You see, the thing about dreamers is their willingness to sacrifice. They will sacrifice their influence, resources, time, and energy to write one more page in their dream’s story. Therefore, dreamers get hurt and get scars. They don’t come to the end of it all looking like they stepped out of a magazine, but rather looking like they have been to war. And I’ll tell you one more thing about dreamers, the scars they amass after a lifetime of being dreamers are a more valuable token than any award or trophy. Because those who spend their lives answering the question “what would you do for the glory of God if you knew you wouldn’t fail?”, find joy in the lives impacted and the world reimagined. They don’t do it to get credit, they do it because they’ve awakened the desire God put in them, and as a result, innovative-creative-imaginative obedience comes bursting forth to answer the call… to tell a different story.

Now get to work, Dreamer. 

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