Why I dare to dream small!

In this day in age, just about every soothsayer out there gives great motivational speeches about dreaming big and shooting for the stars. Both sacred and secular authorities regularly expound the virtue of dreaming big, in ministry, in business, and in life.

Dare to dream big...

We serve a big God who honors God sized faith...

You can be whatever you want to be if you just put your mind to it...

If you dream it you can do it...
There are thousand other well worn and tired cliches I could drum up about dreaming big, repeated by everybody from Jack Welch, to Zig Ziglar, to Steve Jobs, to Oprah, to John Maxwell, to Joel Osteen. But I won't bother you with those. The chances are you know what these influential people have said better than me.

I've long listened to the dream big mantra. I've been to leadership conferences. I've read leadership books. I've hung out with leaders. But, I've noticed that the more I listen to this philosophy, the less I am impressed by what I hear, and the less I am inspired to dream big. Frankly, all this dreaming big talk is starting to get pretty boring, and I find most of what I hear to be uninspired, unoriginal, and dull.  Everything that has ever needed to be said about dreaming big has already been said.  Unfortunately, that won't stop somebody else from writing another book dedicated to the topic.

Now, please don't misunderstand what I'm saying.  I'm not against people having big dreams.  Big dreams are fantastic things.

However, when I think of all the people I know and the things that motivate them every day, it isn't their failure to have big dreams.  Everywhere you look in our society, you see evidence that people everywhere are dreaming big.  Dreaming big is not something people in our culture need to be encouraged or further dared to do.

We've been dreaming big since before Columbus thought he could find a shortcut to the West Indies.  Nearly a mere half a century after learning to fly, we put a man on the moon.  The energy in my home is provided by something that is nuclear.  I am typing this brief article on a Microsoft Windows based operating system.  All these things are the result of people dreaming big dreams.

But in an age of big dreamers, I feel like we are missing something.  I fear that for all of our big dreaming, we fail to dream small.  And because we fail to dream small, the truly important things that God would have us to value get overlooked, marginalized, and neglected.  We are always looking for the next big thing, when so few of us have the vision to see the thing that is right before us.  

For example, when I was in Bible college and seminary, there was no shortage of young ministers who dreamed of being pastors of big churches or featured as conference speakers.  Many dreamed of preaching to 10,000 people as a guest speaker somewhere.  Many coveted the idea of being in "full time ministry."  Yet, many (including yours truly) were regularly not invited by anybody to speak anywhere about anything.  People often complained and felt "held back," and were upset that their pastors weren't utilizing them in the fullness of their calling.

I look back at those days and chuckle on the inside.  God has been so gracious to me.

Instead of putting me in front of 10,000 people to preach my heart out to, He gave me a small number of homeless people to love and serve on a regular basis for several years.  Then after that assignment I went to another church where God gave me a group of High School students to teach in a Sunday school classroom setting.  For several years after that, on a weekly basis I helped to lead and oversee 3 small groups.  We met in homes, local coffee shops, and even at a Taco Bell.

Some people, not finding an outlet to pursue their big dreams, have ended up sidelined forever, not making the most of the thing set before them because they are too busy dreaming and pursuing something big. They wouldn't be caught dead teaching a weekly Bible study in an old worn out homeless shelter located in a bad part of town, because, as some people said of me, such is a "waste" of their time and talents.  And some people take such temporary assignments, but they are only motivated to do such because they see it only as a stepping stone to "bigger things." As a result, their heart is never fully engaged in what they do, and the mess they leave after they are gone shows where their minds really were all along.

To date, God has given me none of the "big dreams" I "dared" to dream and honor God with when I was younger.  Perhaps one day He will.  But if not, I am ok with that.  Honestly, the further I've journeyed down the road God has me on, I've seen that most of the "God-sized" things I dreamed about handicapped my making an actual impact in this world.  As I believe it does, in fact, for many people.

God has used me to touch a number of lives in eternally significant ways, not because I've dared to dream big, but because I started to learn to see the opportunities right in front of me.  And seeing the opportunities in front of me, I started dreaming about small ways to reach out to people around me and make a difference.  Instead of trying to "take cities for Jesus," I dream about ways of reaching my neighbors.  For ultimately our neighbors are the people that God has called all of us to love, serve, touch, and bless. And if the sum of all of our dreaming ultimately causes us to overlook the people God has put in front of us, then I believe we are dreaming about the wrong things.

Dare to dream small my friends.

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