I know the title of this article is provocative. I’m also aware that God gives people visions, dreams, and purpose. God is very much in the business of giving dreams. Having a vision is important, and I agree that a person should hold onto any vision given to them by God.
However, I fear that living in our Western, “you can be anything you want to be” culture we easily distort the teaching of God regarding divine purpose.
Even if you’re not a believer, I think the following advice is helpful:
You must learn to discern between “pursuing dreams” and “chasing fantasies”. There is a difference. We must be honest with ourselves. Happy is the person who knows when it’s time to push for a dream and when it’s time to stop dreaming and accept your lot in life. Because sometimes God (or your circumstances) is telling you, “Accept your lot in life”. I know that could sound pessimistic, but keep reading to the end and I’ll explain myself.
Let’s look at the Apostle Paul. Paul is famous, successful, and travels the world; he is so famous that even demons tell people that they know him (Acts 18). But this ultra-famous preacher tells us:
“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands…”
That’s it. Never once does Paul say, “Dream big. Reach for the stars. Be superstars for Jesus. Do big things with your life.”
Why was Paul so lame? Live a quiet life? Mind your own business? Work with your hands, ie work hard? Why didn’t Paul encourage people to dream their little hearts out? Take the world by storm?
I think the answer is found in the wisdom of King Solomon. King Solomon was not only smart, famous, and successful, he was also filthy rich! Solomon was living the American Dream. But this King tells us:
“Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18 NLT)
Accept your lot in life? Doesn’t that sound terrible? It’s especially awful to our Western ears. How could this be good advice?
Well, first, we need to understand Solomon is not trying to kill our hope. He’s actually trying to show us the pathway to peace. He is not telling us to give up on life, he is actually encouraging us to embrace our life and surrender ourselves to God. He’s saying, “Trust God with what He has given you”.
You see, God has allotted to each person a life, family, friends, work, resources, etc. You’ve probably noticed that we all don’t get the same stuff. It’s tempting to cry, “That’s not fair”. But we’re called to accept God’s decision and embrace our “lot” in life. Through every season, we’re called to receive and steward our allotment with joy and thanksgiving. When we accept our allotted distribution, this is called contentment.
When we accept our allotted distribution, this is called contentment.
Contentment is an attitude that says, “I may desire to see certain things in my life change, but I will accept where I am and refuse to become bitter”.
Of course, if God gives you a dream, you must hold on to it in faith. Chances are that He will give you one. Again, God is in the dream business. If God shows you something, you should fight for it. But fighting for a vision of your future should never come at the expense of your present.
Fighting for a vision of your future should never come at the expense of your present.
If you are miserable, you’re not doing it right. If your “God dream” is making you frustrated and depressed, you must ask yourself, “What am I doing wrong?”
Here’s the hard truth: God gives visions, but I find many people that claim visions from God are simply chasing fantasies. These people, always discontent with their lives, are desperately striving for “something out there” to make them feel better. This “something out there” is usually fame, fortune, influence, success, a relationship, or a combination of these things.
This is not wise. In fact, Scripture warns us about this:
“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.”Proverbs 12:11 NLT
“Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless—like chasing the wind.”Ecclesiastes 6:9 NLT
Why is striving for “something out there” dumb? Why is chasing fantasies nonsense?
Because nothing is out there.
Did you hear that? Nothing.
I’m not trying to be a “buzz-kill”. I promise I’m not trying to dash your dreams. Life is hard enough as it is!
I’m trying to help you.
Discontentment lies to you and tells you, “If I could just get X, then I could be happy.” No, that’s a lie. Because you follow you wherever you go. So, what happens is when you finally get to X your unhappy self will follow you there and mess everything up. The momentary bliss from X will not last and you’ll slide right back into your grumpy and unhappy ways.
That’s how rich people can be miserable. Powerful people are not always happy. Successful people commit suicide. Famous people hate their lives. Watch any Netflix documentary.
So, my encouragement is reject the lies. Live in the moment. Accept your lot in life, and experience the freedom and peace that comes with being content and trusting God.
Dream, but not at the expense of your present.
I’ll leave you with the words of (the famous and successful) Paul:
“True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8 NLT