Martin Luther King Jr.'s stirring "I have a dream" impacted human rights around the world. Then Irish dramatist George Bernard Shaw's visionary words still inspire the masses whenever they are quoted: "Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream things that never were and say, "Why not?"
Joe Darion and Mitch Leigh's lyrics from "Man of La Mancha" move us deeply and have added vitality to many sermons:
To dream the impossible dream,
to fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
to run where the brave dare not go…
To fight for the right
without question or pause
to be willing to march into hell
for a heavenly cause.1
A wise old preacher was right when he told two young beginning pastors as they walked together outside his retirement home, "A pastor never achieves more than his dreams."
That's an important starting point for ministry in every generation. Every pastor needs dreams that are passionately focused on the gospel and its supernatural effect on people who make up the congregation he serves.
Sadly, it is not always the case. "My dream is dead; I can't go on. Our church services feel like we are tossing prayers into a wishing well. Worship is empty." Those despairing comments in a recent letter from a conscientious Midwest pastor are too common.
It's alarming how many dreamers are reducing Kingdom commitments at a time when dreams and dreamers are needed most. The dreams Christ gives us for our lives and for our ministry can't be allowed to die. Something must be done to revive them quickly.
So much depends on the combined dreams of pastors across North America. Think of the possibilities: thousands of ministers representing an incredible force for setting direction, restoring purpose and calling the world back to God. Think of the needs: perplexed persons, dysfunctional families, indifferent churches, deteriorating neighborhoods and a rotting society.2
The dream never dies, just the dreamer! Dream on, my colleague! Dream on!
1 "The Impossible Dream," 1001 Jumbo Song Book (Hansen House).
2 Article excerpted from The Heart of a Great Pastor by H.B. London Jr. and Neil B. Wiseman (Regal Books).
One of the appeals of watching a sunrise is that God seems to say to your soul, "Here's another day, a fresh start some raw material with which you can work. Take hold of it, let your imagination run with it and make something of it."
I think the one thing that I prayed for most often during the three decades of my pastoral ministry was revival in the church I pastored. I remember praying at first for a return to something, although I wasn't exactly sure what — just something that once was, a happening, a spirit, a feeling.
With pastors working long hours and having little confidence that they are doing well, it is difficult for them to believe that their ministries are very significant. As much as we may desire to be affirmed by people, sometimes it simply may not happen.