Chasing Your Dreams
You only have one life to live, so chase your dreams.
This quote, and others like it, permeate the messaging in our culture today. While Scripture agrees that our lives are short (James 4:14), nowhere does it tell us to chase the dreams and goals we have for ourselves. Rather than make our hopes and desires central, it demands the opposite: that we deny ourselves and follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly (Luke 9:23). We are to exchange our desires for His and pursue holiness, righteousness, and godliness (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Timothy 6:11).
What does this mean for the Christian? Does dying to self mean dying to dreams? No, not always. Here’s the thing: Christians do all for the glory of God and the proclamation of the gospel. They recognize that every talent, every gift, and every platform is given by God to be stewarded well. Christians understand that their purpose is rooted in Jesus—not their dream-chasing.
Therefore, as long as the Christian’s dream doesn’t compromise her faith or conflict with what is in Scripture, Christians do have the freedom to chase their dreams. However, the difference between the Christian dreamer and the worldly dreamer is seeking to make Jesus’ name known—an altogether different motivation for dream-chasing.
That said, we are still susceptible to the world ideas and philosophies about dreaming. To help keep us in check, here are three questions every Christian should ask when pursuing a dream:
Is God a priority in my life?
We may start our pursuit with the knowledge that all things can be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), but it’s easy to fall off that path. I am a stay-at-home mom that had a dream to start a Christian women’s magazine. God graciously allowed my husband and me to launch Deeply Rooted but the lines often blur between home and work and my task list seems unending. It would be easy to cut down or skip my devotional time altogether, but this should be a warning indicator that my dream has become a greater priority in my life than God.
I love this quote by Martin Luther: “I have so much to do today that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Regardless of the length of his to-do list, prayer remained at the top. He understood the value of spending time with God. This not only includes our prayer life, but studying and meditating on Scripture, as well as consistent involvement in the local church body.
If time spent with God is not a regular habit, then we may be pursuing a dream more than we are pursuing God. And if we do not have time for the Lord now, what makes us think we will make time for the Lord after our dreams are realized?
What are my motives for pursuing this dream?
It is possible to pursue a good dream with wrong reasons or motives, like trying to build a name for oneself or pleasing a parent, spouse, or peers. A godly pursuit does not require the affirmation of others; rather, it is obedience to what the Lord may be calling you to do. In other instances, we might chase a dream out of greed, seeking purpose, power, wealth, or fame. However, our motives should be rooted in biblical motivations like spreading the gospel, being a light in a specific industry, sharing a God-given gift to edify others, providing for one’s family, and bringing glory to God.
Do I trust God with the outcome of this dream?
I wholeheartedly believe that before we can ever move forward with a dream, we must first be willing to surrender it to God. Consider this: if we hold tightly to this dream now, we will continue to keep a tight grip on it as it grows. But in holding our dreams and plans for ourselves loosely, we share in the same attitude that Mary had as she surrendered her will to God in bearing Christ: “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ said Mary. ‘May it be done to me according to your word’” (Luke 1:38). God intervened in her life in an unexpected way, and we must never assume we know His plan for us. This is what it looks like to pray for His will to be done (Matthew 6:10).
Oftentimes, our reactions to God delaying a dream or closing the door altogether reveal questions 1 and 2—whether or not God is our priority and what motivates our dreaming. These “roadblocks” show that deep down we really want our own way for our own reasons. For as long as we live in the flesh, this will be our tendency, but it is the Holy Spirit that both convicts and guides us back on track.
It is never easy to lay aside a dream we thought was in line with God’s will for this moment in time. However, it may still be in His plan in the future. At the end of the day, we trust that the open doors, closed doors, and delays all fall in line with His perfect purposes.
Laying Your Dreams Before God
These are just a few evaluative questions to help us as we navigate our dream-chasing for the glory of God. We can ask them at all stages in the dream-chasing process, because we will always be susceptible to chasing a dream for the wrong reasons in this fallen world. As you consider these questions, ask God to give you wisdom and discernment. Sometimes the answers affirm our dream, and sometimes they reveal the waywardness of our heart. The good news is that God already knows our hearts and is not surprised. He calls us to refocus and depend on Him alone.
At the end of our lives, we will stand before God and give an account for our days on this earth. We will not take with us our bank account statements, our follower counts, or earthly achievements or accolades; all those things will be no more. It’s not that our dreams don’t matter—they do—but they are means to an end. That end is finally standing in the presence of the love of our life, the pursuit of all pursuits: God Himself.
Your friend, Dianne
** To read more from Dianne about pursuing and laying down dreams as followers of Christ, be sure to pre-order her book, A Holy Pursuit, which releases in March 2020 from B&H Publishing!
Meet the Author:
Dianne Jago is a military wife and mother of three residing in Pensacola, Florida. She is the author of A Holy Pursuit: How the Gospel Frees Us to Follow and Lay Down Our Dreams, and the founder and chief editor of Deeply Rooted Magazine, where she works with her team to encourage, inspire, and equip women to be deeply rooted in Jesus Christ.