I’m a big believer in having and pursuing your dreams.
However, while pursuing my dreams, I began to realize dreams can come from different sources. Some dreams are images or goals I’ve set for myself and these can be good to pursue… and some not so much. There is another source though to dreams and I think of them as God-Inspired dreams. Those thoughts and dreams that God plants in your heart. These dreams are not as easy to pursue as our own dreams, but are infinitely more rewarding.
First, let me assure you that God really does want to inspire you. He has a specific calling on each person’s life and invites us into His plan. (Ephesians 4:1: “Therefore, I beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.”) Too often, I think we ignore or dismiss those little seedlings of the dreams He is planting in us because we doubt.
So let me ask you: “Do you believe God can do something significant through you?”
Hopefully you said yes – because He can!
So how can we distinguish which dreams are from ourselves and which are God-Inspired? After going through the story of Joseph (Genesis Chapters 37 through 50) – who was a big dreamer in the Bible – we can find seven characteristics of of a God-Inspired Dream.
1. It’s Impossible Can I say, you know it’s God , if what He is calling you to seems impossible. He dwells in the impossible. Which requires us to have faith. Dreams that require us to just do what we’re able to are not God-Inspired. Those that require us to trust and lean on His ability are the dreams that will move us out of the realm of the ordinary into the extraordinary. (My mom often would remind me of Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”
When you quiet yourself and think about your dreams, do you have a sense of greatness or purpose? We are great because God has his hand on us. We are demonstrations to the world of God doing the impossible.
2. It’s Misunderstood Trust me, not everyone will be happy about your dream! Some people will even try to kill your dream. A God-Inspired dream requires endurance. There will be progress and momentum and excitement! But there will also be delays, detours, frustrations, and doubts. Keep following the One who is leading you.
It’s also important for you to realize that when you begin to pursue your God-dream, you’re not ready to walk it. By going through the process God will use the journey to develop, equip, and refine you – ultimately carving His character on your life. If you had all the necessary skills and characteristics for the dream, there would be no need to trust and lean on God.
3. It’s Valuable Meaning, it requires stewardship. Dreamers are good stewards. They ask “Can people see God’s hand on me as I’m doing my work?” When God puts a dream in your heart it affects every area of your life. This means dreamers manage the small things well. We tend to forget the small things, but it’s the small things that matter. As a goal-oriented and driven person, let me say, you won’t see your dreams come true until you make your spouse and your children your mission. If God puts a dream in your heart, He will bring it to pass IF you are faithful where you are today.
4. It’s Holy This doesn’t mean your dream is only God-inspired if it fits within the walls of the church. What it means is it requires the fear of God. Trust me, there will always be opportunities to make it about us and compromise. Compromise will kill the dream! This is why for my company we list and review our core values – to remind ourselves what we are not willing to compromise. If you don’t, you will be tempted to compare yourself to others and you can become bitter and make poor decisions. This is one way we try to guard ourselves against this. We must have boundaries in our lives.
5. It’s Big A God-Inspired dream is about much more than just yourself, in fact, it always blesses others. He will bless you to make you a blessing to others. When evaluating your dreams ask yourself “How does my dream bless others lives?” A God-inspired dream always blesses, encourages, and enriches others. Your dream should help fulfill the dreams of others.
6. It Glorifies God Let’s face it, a key characteristic of a God-Inspired dream is that it’s not about us. This requires humility on our part. If your dream is only about the American dream, it’s probably not a God-Dream. That’s not to say that following a God-dream won’t bless you financially or with status or influence; but our heart and actions always need to be pointing back to the One who gives us that ability or position. (Think about people like TobyMac, Mandisa, Michael Hyatt, or Kirk Cameron.)
7. It Always Remains Under Authority This can be a hard one for those of us in the United States. Our culture celebrates independence, the do-it-yourselfer, marching to the beat of your own drum. A God-Inspired dream though is different because we are called not to exalt ourselves, but to serve. There is temptation to make our dream an idol. Don’t hold so tightly to your dream that if the day comes to walk away from it (to pursue a different dream) you find you can’t. If you don’t honor the authority He has put you under, you will destroy your dream. By keeping your dream under His authority, He will bring to pass things greater than you could ever imagine.
So let me ask, “What has God inspired you to do? What does it look like?”
Another great resource on God-inspired dreams is The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.