Your God-given dreams are YOUR responsibility. You have to steward your dreams. You cannot expect someone else to make it happen for you. There are 5 areas of maturity that we must cultivate to properly go forward with purpose.
This is my second post about pursuing our dreams and our purpose. Lately, that’s been a very important subject to me. Like many of you, I have some big dreams in my heart that I believe God has given me. I am intrigued with how our journey of losing spouses has both majorly disrupted the pursuit of life purpose, but has also keenly focused us on what is important and not important, which in turn better prepares us for what is ahead.
In a previous post I wrote about Keeping the Dream Alive. In this post I will explore some lessons I’ve learned in aligning dreams with present context and moving forward with maturity. This post is about taking responsibility for our dreams and not placing the responsibility upon someone else.
Sometimes, when we feel others should lend their influence to our vision, and they do not, improper attitudes may develop. In the church world we call a subversive attitude an “Absalom spirit.” The term refers to the story in the bible (2 Samuel) of Absalom, King David’s son. Absalom’s vision of the future was different than King David’s, and was openly critical of his father. He gathered people around his cause and actively campaigned against David. Admittedly, David made mistakes, but Absolom’s response has become a biblical standard against improper attitudes toward spiritual leadership.
Some see a subversive attitude toward a struggling leader, or a leader with a different vision, as acceptable, but it is wrong. An Absalom attitude, along with being morally wrong, destroys elements necessary to the success of any organization or team: trust, respect, teamwork, and the cohesiveness of character. An Absalom spirit can arise in us when we feel our vision of the future is better and more important than that of the leader or the leadership team.
An Absalom spirit can arise when we feel our vision of the future is better and more important than that of the leader or the leadership team.
An immature leader will sometimes see their vision of the future as more important than anyone else’s. They want their ideas to become the organization’s priorty. Such immature people cannot understand why other ministries and initiatives are not scrapped to free budget resources for them to fulfill their vision.
I once worked with a staff pastor who was doing an awesome job. This team member was already consuming an inordinate amount of the budget on their vision. He grew frustrated because the leadership of the church would not keep fueling him with more and more general resources needed by other vital ministries. His vision was big. His vision was a good vision. It was difficult for him to understand why we could not fund it at greater levels.
Your vision is no one else’s responsibility. If you are a visionary your dreams will always outstrip your ability to pay for it. Part of stewarding a vision is seeking God for the resources to do it. While God is our source, you have to take responsibility for funding your vision and not get “put off” when everyone doesn’t roll over to make your dream happen.
Mature leaders understand when God speaks something to them they have to take responsibility for shepherding the vision. Yes, inspire others, include others, inspire others to find themselves in the vision, maybe it will become their vision too, but do not develop a sense of entitlement that implies that since God gave you a vision everyone else needs to fall in line and see that it gets done.
Here’s the deal… Anybody can have an idea. Ideas are a dime a dozen. I have more ideas floating around in my head now than I will ever accomplish and that would take years of work, sacrifice, and fund-raising to carry out. Not every idea is a God idea. I have ideas about websites and apps and videos and books, the list goes on and on. It is no one else’s responsibility to make the things in my heart happen–it’s mine, and I have to decide what is and is not worth the investment. Anybody can have an idea. So what? Those who can shepherd ideas into reality are valuable.
Anyone can have an idea, the value comes in being able to make it a reality.
The train wreck begins when we see our leaders and our team as “irrelevant,” “too passive,” and Absalom’s pearl–“they just don’t have vision.” And then Absalom talks about it. At the city gate, in the rest room, and worse, he alludes to it in meetings and manipulates others into saying it out loud while he is quiet in a telling way with a knowing look on his face.
I must take responsibility for the dreams and visions God has given me. I have to take responsibility for moving my “great adventures” forward. In moving the God-visions in my heart forward I have to exercise maturity to assure that the things God has put on my heart aligns with His broader plan. How do we keep our dreams and visions aligned with God’s big-picture? How do we protect ourselves from an “Absolom spirit?”
We must cultivate at least five areas of maturity to protect our hearts while moving our God-given dreams and visions forward.
#1 Cultivate maturity in your communications.
Do not have a hidden agenda in your communications, let your “yes” mean “yes” and your “no” mean “no” (Matthew [5:37]). As communicators we know how to “spin” things. Have integrity in the motivation behind your words.
#2 Cultivate maturity in your expectations.
To expect others to take responsibility for fulfilling our dreams is immature. People will only engage with your vision when it becomes their vision, when they can see themselves in it. It isn’t about you.
#3 Cultivate maturity in your perspectives.
An immature person only sees things important to their agenda. A spiritual leader has to have a “big picture” perspective. Organizations and churches are systemic, everything affects everything. Someone has to keep everything in focus and make decisions based upon outcomes affecting the entire organization. To have a team member trying to promote a sliver of the vision over everything else is wearisome.
#4 Cultivate maturity in your pace.
Repositioning, major changes, and culture shifts take a long time. Immaturity and impatience are synonymous when it comes to moving a dream or a vision forward. Timing and alignment are critically important. An “Absolom spirit” is critical of the necessary pace and often pushes for things to move faster than they should.
#5 Cultivate maturity in your understanding of ownership.
When you are the one who owns primary responsibility for a decision, things look differently. The weight of a decision rightfully rests upon the one with the most responsibility. Immaturity presses us to seek the right of decision-making without owning the responsibilities. The primary leader owns the responsibility for organizational outcomes, no matter how many assurances come from team members that they will own the responsibility for decisions. We have to own our decisions and we have to respect the fact that, when under authority, our leaders will also have to own our decisions.
Your dreams fit into someone else big-picture. We do not dream in a vacuum. We must help those we mentor and coach to understand how their dreams, visions, and life-purpose fits into their big-picture. We must also be careful to keep the right attitude toward those over us as we pursue our purpose. It is my responsibility to steward my God-given dream and I must diligently seek to understand how that dream aligns with the context in which God has placed me.