Have you ever wondered whether the dream to which you aspire is really God's will for you? Whether we desire to become a social worker, a chemical engineer, an author or the next great chef, it's essential that we understand and pursue God's plan for our lives...not pipe dreams.
Though things unfolded differently for me than I ever imagined, and we will all walk different paths, I'd like to share some steps that will help you embrace and pursue your God-given dreams.
1. Pray. Hard. - Every single success, every open or closed door in my life has been the direct result of specific, focused prayer. I always ask the Lord to not only direct my steps, but formulate my thoughts and plans so that they line up with His. And I never make a move, a plan, or a goal without praying first.
2. Follow after peace. - A prevailing sense of peace is essential for me as I pursue my dream. If I sense frustration or uneasiness in my heart, I pause and pray. If necessary, I seek counsel. Regardless, if I don't have peace about a decision or opportunity, I won't do it. Colossians 3:15 says it well: "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from the Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts--deciding and settling with all finality all questions that arise in your minds--..."
3. Ask God for confirmation. - I've been awestruck by the doors God has opened for me when I've asked Him to confirm His will. God has clearly and graciously provided confirmation to me through various people, articles, books, radio talk shows, and many other ways, including my own family. Over and over God has used others to point out my strengths (and weaknesses!).
4. Do your part. - Get equipped. Enroll in a class, undergo training, sign up for a workshop. Do whatever it takes to be prepared. I can't tell you the number of people I've met who, when they discover I'm a writer, tell me they've always felt they would one day write a book. Yet when I ask what they've written or if they've read any good books on writing or attended a writers conference, the answer is always no. Dreams don't just materialize. We must do our part. Ecclesiastes 5:3 says "...for a dream comes with much business and painful effort."
5. Dip your toe in the water. - Sometimes we have to step out to discover whether or not the door is going open. Yes, we risk awkwardness or outright embarrassment. But we could also discover the beauty and satisfaction of taking the first steps in our calling.
6. Be willing to wait. - Timing is everything. We may think we're ready, we may feel ready, but only God knows when we're truly ready for the next step in pursuing our dream. If you strongly sense you're headed in the right direction and then you step out and nothing happens, or doors continually close, it could be a matter of timing. Even Jesus got ahead of God's timing (see Luke 2: 41-49).
7. Be honest with yourself. - If, after a lengthy season of preparation doors are still slamming in your face, you're either out of God's timing, learning perseverance, or, possibly, you're barking up the wrong tree. This leads to number 8...
8. Get feedback from trusted professionals. - We've all cringed watching American Idol's auditions at the beginning of every season. I never cease to be amazed by truly awful, tone deaf singers who spout bold, bizarre proclamations that they're the best thing to happen to the music industry ever. The truth is, people have the ability to recognize gifts in others. Find someone in the field you're pursuing and ask for an honest opinion. God just might use them to speak truth and re-direct you.
Leave me a comment and I'll pray specifically for your dreams this week!