Dreams inspire people to set goals, and to strive. Hold tight to yours, and share your vision to inspire others.
Everybody wants something. Cars, homes, peace of mind, happiness, recognition, a place to belong, and the list is endless. Because of this, desire is at the foundation of all effort. It is from desire that persistence grows because what attracts you can activate you to action. It is this attraction or desire or dream, if you will, that is the beginning of faith. Faith is actually a reaction to a dream and dreams are God-inspired. It is important to remember that God places no limitations on our dreams or achievements. Only we do that.
Developing this dream or vision and living it is one of the essential elements of leadership. It is this point of differentiation that will separate those people and organizations that succeed in the millennium from those that do not. It is also the point of differentiation that will determine the direction our country proceeds, as well as our ultimate success. The dream predates the goal, and all leadership begins and ends with goal setting. It is the dream that shows up and then shores up values. Behavior is not driven by experience but by expectation. Years of motivational programs for people in business have taught me “You get what you incent.” If you don’t like the results, change the incentive and renew the dream. It is the dream that kindles the imagination and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. In Proverbs 29:18, it is written that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Dreams provide meaning
It is the dream that offers texture to life. While we cannot control the length of our life, we can add to its width and depth and breadth. Life inspired by a God-given dream is not a burden we carry, but wings that transport us to new heights, providing us with a reason to live. We live in inspiration offered by the great dreamers of history. From them, we draw from one generation and are able to give to another. Dreams allow us to speak in a language that does not die a physical death. Dreams are the harbinger of hope and glory, speaking in a language of the spirit, the heart and the soul. This is why it is so destructive to embrace a so-called political correctness that takes great delight in tearing down the traditions and dreams of the past. For, when the dream dies, there is no hope.
Communism, as an example, over time, proved to be as soulless as the embalmed remains of Lenin in Red Square, collapsing in the dust of a visionless society. No dream, no hope, no trust and no future. The people simply quit believing. The fundamentals you and I are discussing, love, forgiveness, relationships, attitude and dreams, simply sank into a morass of hopelessness. You and I must grasp the dream that brings out the best in us. Moving in the direction of our aptitudes and abilities, we must keep our eyes on our values, willing only to sacrifice the dream for the sake of our integrity.
Seeing the dream through to the end is a function of dedication, determination, hard work and character. It is not, as our narcissistic society has determined, a divine right to embrace happiness, health and prosperity. Winners take what they have and make it better. They don’t complain about the past or the tarnished dreams of their forefathers, demanding the result without the effort. Further, they know that it is not what they get that makes them successful but rather what they become in the process and then what they continue to do with what they get. The journey is the issue and a fundamental sense of purpose is the single most important element in the journey. The objective of life then, is to run to the dream and not from the shadows. The greatest tragedy is to never have had a dream, not to fall short in achieving it, as some have said. Get a new hold on your dream.
Fix your eyes on rewards, not obstacles
I once heard writer and speaker Doug Wead tell the story of David and Goliath from the 17th Chapter of Samuel in the Old Testament. I would like to share that with you because it so typifies what we are discussing. Most children have heard the story of David and Goliath before but Doug told it from the standpoint of an adult. To some it may seem like he was violating sacred stories, but bear with me because as Doug says, “They don’t teach it this way in Sunday School.”
Let me set the stage for you. The Valley of Elah runs east and west from the Mediterranean Sea to just a few miles south of Jerusalem. The Philistine Army was on a mountain on one side of the valley and the Israeli Army was on a mountain on the other side of the valley. In the middle of the valley was Goliath, pacing up and down. It happens that Goliath and his brothers were a remnant of a giant race of people that had been left to test Israel in the settlement of Canaan or the Promised Land. Now Goliath was big. In fact, if you count a cubit as 25 inches and span as 10 inches, Goliath was 13 feet four inches tall. He was also wearing armor that weighed 194 pounds troy and carried a spear of 23 pounds troy. Translated, that means his total armor weighed 218 pounds. In Vietnam, a fully loaded combat Marine with full pack didn’t have an average weight much more than Goliath’s armor.
Now, David arrived in the Israeli camp that afternoon. As it happens, everybody was decked out for battle with flags waving and trumpets blaring and horses snorting. David was excited just to be able to watch. David was a spectator. Then, Goliath showed up. To me, what is interesting about this is that Goliath could be any obstacle between you and your career or between you and your mate or between you and financial goals or your children or the successful operation of your business or whatever. But for David, as we shall see, Goliath became the very best thing that could have ever happened to him. Goliath, or the obstacle or problem, became the beginning of a great career for David and it could be for you too. You want to do something with your life and sometimes Goliath problems get in the way, but they also bring out the very best in us. This is what happened in David’s case.
When Goliath appeared, he gave a speech. The fact is, he gave that same speech for 40 days before David arrived and when Goliath spoke, all Israel ran, even David. We aren’t taught that in Sunday School. When I was little I used to go to Vacation Bible School during the summer at a little Presbyterian Church near my house in Florissant, Missouri. It was there that I first saw a picture of David and Goliath stuck to a flannel board that was used to tell the stories of the Bible. However, I never saw a picture of David running away. What the flannel board showed was a picture of David standing his ground and saying, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?” Now, I don’t think most kids know what circumcised means. I certainly didn’t. I’ve often wondered how many children lived for years in mortal fear of anything that might be uncircumcised that could cause the whole army of Israel to run away. And all Israel did run. If you understand the military strategy of the day, the entire first row was prepared to die but even they ran away when Goliath showed up.
So, David was running as well. When he got back to camp he happened to overhear a conversation that was to change his life. Now, this is absolutely true and you can find it in the Bible, so I encourage you to look it up and check it out. Here is what happened. Two soldiers were talking and one said to the other, “Do you know what the reward is for the person that kills Goliath?” The other one responded, “Yes, if you kill Goliath you won’t have to ever pay taxes again, you will be able to ride a great’ horse, and listen to this, you will marry the princess and become prince.” Right here is where David said what they taught us in Sunday School as kids. “What?” “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine?” Here is the point. It wasn’t Goliath or the problem that turned David on, it was the princess. It was the dream. David then said, “What” because he wanted it repeated and so they did. What this means is that you must have a vision, a dream and a goal.
David, as it turns out, was just like you and me. He wanted to do something with his life before he died. He tended his sheep and dreamed until one day the word prince caught his ear. The vision the Bible talks about when it says that you must have a vision or perish is the vision for your marriage, a vision for your career or your business or even a vision for your life. God tells us how important it is to have a dream all through the Bible.
Remember the story of Joseph and his multi-colored coat? Joseph ended up going to prison and being made a slave and put in a pit. But God did not show him that. Instead, God looked down on this smart aleck kid just as he does you and me and while Joseph was trying to impress his brothers with his new clothes, God gave him a dream. The Bible says that Joseph got up in the middle of the night and said, “Hey, I’ve had this wonderful dream, and in it all your haystacks were bowing down to my haystack.” As you might imagine, his brothers didn’t like that. In derision his brothers said of him, “behold the dreamer cometh.” The truth is, nobody likes dreamers, especially if they don’t have a dream of their own. This is why it is so important to protect your dream. If God gives you a dream don’t let someone kill it; not even your brother or sister or parents or spouse who are often well-intentioned but simply don’t understand.
The same thing happened to David, incidentally. David’s brother Eliab walked up to the campfire and saw that David was impressing the soldiers. Now Eliab knew that David was a nobody. He knew that David would never be a prince or ride a great horse or own land or certainly would never marry the princess. So Eliab said “OK, David, I know why you are here. You just wanted to see what the soldiers look like.” Then Eliab said what was most devastating to David in front of the others. He said, “By the way, who is tending your few sheep?” Then, of course, the soldiers also realized David was a nobody too.
You see, David was away from home. When you are home, everybody knows you are a nobody. Your relatives know you are a nobody, your friends know you are a nobody and you know you are a nobody. When you return home there are banners there that say “welcome home, nobody.” Your spouse even has “nobody” embroidered on your bath towel and so you begin to believe it and to think it yourself. David was away from home and he didn’t know he was a nobody. So, what did David do? The Bible says that he turned from one to another. What this means is that he found someone else to listen to his dream who might agree with him. When he found someone else, it is interesting to note that he asked the same question for the third time. “What is the reward for the man who kills Goliath?”
What I like about David is that he puts his mind on the princess or the dream and not on the problem. Too many times in life we are absorbed with the problem. All you hear is Goliath, Goliath, Goliath. We become walking health problems. We join the arthritis book of the month club. We see only how our business will fail and never seem to grasp the fact that you don’t drown by falling in the water, just by staying there. Instead, we seem to spend most of our lives preparing to fail.
Not David. By this time, he was walking all over the battlefield asking questions like, “What kind of perfume does she wear? How does it feel to ride a big horse? How much land do I actually get?” You see there is power in putting your mind on the reward. There is power in staying focused on the dream. You must have a vision. You must have a goal. You must have a dream. You must have a hope. So what did David do? According to the Scripture it says he actually began to rehearse what he was going to say to King Saul. He said, “I may be small but I killed a bear and God will help me kill this guy.” And so, as Doug Wead pointed out, David probably showed up in room 319 where everyone who was interested in killing Goliath was supposed to sign up and nobody was there.
He probably thought, “Oh no, I’m late and they already picked the guy and I didn’t even get the newsletter saying who it was.” David was so worried about the competition and the other people who might want to marry the princess that he couldn’t believe it when no one showed up. The fact is there wasn’t anybody in line because they were all at home where they were nobody.
It seems that when you get right down to it, no one wants to become a prince. No one wants to ride the big horse. No one wants to own the land. No one wants to marry the princess. And, most of all, NO ONE WANTS TO PAY THE PRICE. Is it possible that this is part of what ails America today? No one wants to stay the course. No one wants to be accountable. No one wants to pay the price to achieve the dream.
So, first you must have a dream and then you have to try. Most of you already know that David won. But I do want you to remember that Goliath wasn’t just big, he was a champion. When he was in the fourth grade his teacher probably went to the principal and said, “Look at that guy in the third row.” And that was all it took. They took this freak of nature, a giant, and made him a champion. Goliath also had a dossier on the 36 great men of Israel. Like many great military leaders, he studied his opponents and he was ready. The plan was one Philistine for one Israelite. On the first day, a half million Israelis ran, the plan was so devastating. Goliath already knew who he might fight and when David showed up he probably thought to himself, “Now I see, they knew they would lose so they planned a propaganda reverse by sending a 17-year-old boy.” Then he said, “Am I a dog that you send a boy to fight against me? Send me a man.”
Obviously, Goliath had this inferiority complex to match his size. All his anger and paranoia came to the surface. I mean this guy was a freak. He couldn’t even buy his shoes at Kmart like you and I. The really interesting thing is how David answered him. I wish that you would take the time to look this up in the Bible because it is really dynamite. You can find this in 1st Samuel XVII, 45-47.
Here is what David said, “Thou comest to me with a sword and a shield and a spear but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel whom you have defiled.” Remember the scene. There are a half-million soldiers watching and this living legend was standing in front of David, all 13 feet 4 inches toting 218 pounds troy of armor. How was David armed? David came armed with a dream. He had a shepherd’s staff, five smooth stones, a bag, a sling and faith in God. So David says, “This day the Lord will give you into my hand, and I will take your head from thee“ (talk about faith, remember, he only had a sling shot).
Then David took one of his smooth stones and put it in the sling and slung it out there and hit Goliath in the one place that he wasn’t covered by armor and Goliath fell.
And there was silence.
David stood there looking pretty cool on the outside like he might be saying, “pretty good shot, huh?” On the inside he was wondering if he had to go up and see if Goliath was dead. So he went and climbed up on Goliath taking his sword and severed his head. Then he knew he was dead. The Bible then says that all half-million Israelites gave a great shout. HEY! Three days earlier they had all run away. Now, the Philistines ran because one boy had a dream and decided he wanted to be somebody. A prince and not a shepherd.
Many years later, as recorded in Chronicles 28:20, David was on his death bed. He was talking to his son Solomon and he wanted to leave him with just the right words. He wanted to imprint his life with his dying words. While you may not believe it, and again I encourage you to look it up, David’s dying words reflected the attitude of his life and the commitment to the dream. David’s dying words to his son Solomon were, “BE STRONG, BE OF GOOD COURAGE, AND DO IT!”
Life is not as easy as self-help books or the panderers of positive thinking suggest. It is often full of boredom and drudgery to the point where we may become overtaken by the ordinariness of life itself. It is full of wrong choices and failed dreams embraced by executives, street people, farmers, addicts, the famous and the ordinary. All the battles are still faced daily. Battles with lust, greed pride, anger, irritability and inconsistency. The life of the paradoxical encompassing both belief and doubt, hope and discouragement, love and hate. But in the dream is the power of the oasis. It offers renewal of the ebbing spirit. The thirst-quenching water that offers respite in the middle of the desert, the strength to go on to a new day. With a new dream you are not 35 going on nowhere or a disillusioned old person who may soon die.
God is a God of new beginnings and it is He who authors the dream. We may be discouraged, uncertain and guilt-ridden but there is hope. Within the dream lie the answers to our ultimate purpose and values. Within the dream lie the answers to the pain often caused by those closest to us. Yes, there is death, yes, there can be panic, yes, there is disillusionment, yes, there is sometimes depression but that is not all. At each moment in life we are growing into something more meaningful or retreating into something less than we are. Like everything else, the dream is a gift. We must allow our dreams to soar and not become empty, petty and impotent in the manure of this world.
You and I need to think big about God and think big about our dreams. The energy, faith and devotion which we bring to the dream will light up our country and perhaps the rest of the world. Set your heart on things above as the dream is the substance of every great achievement. Just as water seeks its own level, our lives rise and fall based on the power of the dream. We all have a dream or vision that corresponds to our basic attitude about life. It gives definition to our very life, influencing the decisions we make, our choices, the words we speak, the feelings we express, and the actions we take. At any given time these actions either conform to the dream or they do not.
This is a matter of integrity. The problem with America and many Americans today is that we have failed to maintain our integrity.
The dream is vital to life because it provides constant hope. It keeps us true. It keeps us from constantly looking at the other guy as the one who is fulfilled. Instead of regretting yesterday and fearing tomorrow, we have hope. In law, there is a concept referred to as “the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” This says that anything that might not be covered under the terms of the written contract between two parties will be covered under this covenant. That is exactly what the dream does. With the dream, God says to you and me in a covenant of good faith and fair dealings that there is a new purpose in life. With the dream, I know that out of despair comes hope…every time. With the dream I know, that out of the ashes rises the phoenix…every time. With the dream, I know that out of the wreck I rise…every time. Remember this; it is OK to commit your life to great and soaring dreams in your own imperfection. Over and over we have said that this is a journey we are taking, not a destination. A perfect life is not the issue…what is demanded is a dedicated heart. Get a new hold on your dream.