What role should my dreams play in my ministry and personal life?

Do you ever sit quietly and watch the sun rise over your town? I love the way the edge of the gray horizon slowly becomes deep red, then streaky orange, then patchy yellow, then blossoming white. For a few moments, it seems all of these colors are present simultaneously. It is almost unsettling in its beauty.

One of the appeals of such an activity 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."

But how? There are lots of fabulous ideas mentioned in the interviews on the March/April 1999 edition (Vol. 40) of Pastor to Pastor, but let me add four suggestions that I would make:

Dream in multiple areas of your life.
Dare to dream in every arena. For example, have a dream for your personal growth and development. This might be to write and publish a book (one of my dreams). Or you might have a goal to be elected to a public office in local government. Have another dream that concerns your family, such as maintaining a regular schedule of "family time" each week. In the professional arena, you might desire to earn a Doctor of Ministry degree that would enhance your service to your congregation and community. For your church, your dream might involve the relocation of your facilities to a new campus in town or the beginning of a new ministry to college students. Have lots of dreams.

Start small, learn the process, include measurable milestones, then expand your dream.
Start with small steps until you get comfortable with the process, then gradually increase their size until you have leaps of faith. My dream to publish a book some day might start with writing shorter pieces, like memos in the office, funny e-mail messages or a column in a weekly newsletter. (Hey! I already do all of those things. Wow! I'm already on my way. And it feels great!)

If your ultimate dream is government involvement, you might start by committing to attend six council meetings this year. A good first step towards a family night might be praying together tonight.

Be sure to identify measurable progress points. These will help you avoid discouragement since you'll see that you are making headway, even if it is slow for the time being.

Make sure it's God's dream, too.
This can be tricky. Knowing God's will is a challenge we all face. I like Henry Blackaby's approach, as outlined in his popular course called Experiencing God. He reminds us that God is already at work around us accomplishing His will. Our duty is to look around and find out what He's doing, then accept His invitation to join Him in His work. If we do this, our dreams will naturally align with His.

You may have another favorite way of confirming that your dream is also God's. Just don't leave Him out as you move forward.

Get started today.
If you've got a dream that originates from God, you don't want to waste any time. What can you do today to get started? There must be something you can do, even if it's small, to begin building momentum. Make a phone call. Jot down an outline. Get out of that chair right now. Put on your Nike shoes and "just do it."