Do You Dare to Dream?
A quick look at the self-help section of any bookstore will quickly confirm the obvious. “Dare to dream!” is standard coaching advice from motivational speakers and ministers alike. Perhaps you’ve even heard yourself urging others in Unity to dream big. But are you fully allowing God to help you dare to intentionally seek the highest purpose of your life? “Why is it that everyone else can think big but pastors?” asks Rev Tommy Barnett in an interview in Ministries Today magazine. Perhaps it is because they are so busy!
Psalm 37:4 instructs us to “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Yet how can Spirit manifest those delights if we don’t take time daily to embed those desires into our consciousness? As a spiritual leader, how much time do you invest in your life’s dream, even if you already have your “dream job”? Or have all the mundane details of leadership led you closer to preaching the concept while delaying putting it into consistent practice? These questions are asked without judgment.
Every day we have so much to accomplish, so many problems to solve, so many demands on our time, that even when we prioritize spiritual practice, we may not realize that we have reduced ourselves to playing in a limited sphere. We pray, we meditate, but Proverbs 29:18 reminds us there is another vital step. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” So as ministry leaders, how can we authentically coach those around us to go after their dreams if attention to our own deepest desires habitually becomes lost in an ever-growing daily to-do list?
Many Native American tribes have a rite of passage called a vision quest. It is a sacred process in which the quester devotes both physical and emotional energy to spending days in nature waiting to be inspired by a Spiritual Dream that would reveal a life’s purpose. The Lakota Sioux word for vision quest is Hembleciya (ham-blay-che-ya) which translates in English to “crying for a dream.” It doesn’t matter how you choose to connect with your dream–journaling, picture boards, letters to the future, visioning, daily dreaming sessions–but the more intentional and disciplined the approach, the more we activate the Christ Within longing to express through us. Through unabashed dreaming and thinking in transformational leaps and bounds, we can connect more fully to the life we came to live. Romans 12:6 reminds us we all have gifts–through dreaming we can maximize what we bring to the world and to our spiritual communities.
Dreaming Big Sets Your Heart on Fire
Yet time invested in something not yet seen is often derided as impractical in a world that values action and quick results. Even in spiritual circles it can slip off the priority list when faced with immediate concerns. The importance of taking the time to dream is not only minimized in modern society, but in biblical times as well. The Bible is full of stories of people willing to believe in the validity of their visions, spiritual desires or nocturnal dreams being mocked by others. Indeed in Genesis 37:19, Joseph’s brothers scoffed, “Here comes that dreamer!” But in reality, envisioning a big future deepens our connection to God. A dream is so big it sets your heart on fire and makes your soul long for the Divine Union necessary to achieve it. It is not a calling from ego; it is a desire from God that creates an unquenchable yearning that guides your life decisions.
Recently, I saw a television show where a Catholic priest was talking to a group of young women in the discernment process to decide if religious life was their calling. His advice to these potential nuns was to devote the necessary time with God to, in essence, dream about their life’s path. “Without a vision,” he said, “your life becomes like a broken-winged bird trying to fly. And the most you can do for a broken-winged bird is put it in a cage and feed it until it dies.” Without a dream, we may be existing—following all the “correct” spiritual practices and rituals—but we are not living the life we are called to live. Still, with all the energy it takes to steward others through the trials and tribulations of life, we may unconsciously be putting their spiritual needs ahead of our own, creating for ourselves a cage of practice without sight of higher purpose.
In Unity we talk about a path to wholeness. But if we don’t take time to dream, how can we know what our own wholeness looks like? Obviously prayer and meditation are foundational in connecting with Spirit, but taking time to ask “What is my burning desire?” is equally important. Rumi reminds us, “There is a candle in your heart, ready to be kindled. There is a void in your soul, ready to be filled. You feel it, don’t you?”
It is through dreaming that we can step into that void and realize what we came here to achieve. Instead of just asking coaching questions of others, challenge yourself with some. What would excite you to get out of bed every day? What would move you from your current reality to a life on fire? How can you be a Way Shower for your congregation, not just through words but through living on purpose? What new door of opportunity do you want to open, no matter how scary it may feel?
In asking these questions, the Christ Consciousness manifests. Revelation 3:8: tells us, “Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” Focusing on that new door is when “dare to dream” becomes more than just a popular phrase, and turns into an ongoing event that sustains a lifelong spiritual quest. But it all begins with your willingness to grow. Are you willing to dream in order to dare?