When you start a new job, move house or face any significant life event, it’s not unusual for people to pass on gifts and cards (no hint intended, but if you’re feeling guilty there is always time!) One gift that stood out to me, now taking pride of place in my office, is a handcrafted wooden ornament which spells the word ‘DREAM’.
One essential attribute of any leader is his or her ability to dream that is ‘cherish an aspiration, ambition, or ideal.’ It was TE Lawrence that expressed “We all dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
‘Dreamers of the day’ as Lawrence so eloquently describes have the ability, not only to see, but to make what they see a reality.
Imagination and Experimentation
One of the essential aspects of any dream is the lack of limitation, the absence of borders and restrictions. Have you ever woken from a vivid dream wondering how any of those crazy thoughts got into your mind in the first place. One theory is your brain encounters millions of inputs each day. During sleep, the brain works to plough through all of this information to decide what to hang on to and what to forget. As leaders if we are to cultivate healthy imagination and fertile ground for ideas to develop we need to stimulate our mind.
I worry that in a digital age which makes the ideas of others so easy to share, we allow ourselves to shortcut our imagination for quick fix ideas. If we do not intentionally carve out time to dream, return to the blank page, our imagination can easily be traded-in for imitation. As Christian leaders we must allow our imagination to be stimulated by creator God himself, the ultimate designer, as well as those around us. Make time, create space, develop a rhythm that enables you to dream and imagine. After all, it is imagination and experimentation that leads to discovery.
It was the former Liverpool football manager Bill Shankly who famously expressed... “Aim for the sky and you'll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you'll stay on the floor.” I am sometimes disappointed when I talk to Christian leaders by a seeming lack of vision, or at least a dream that rarely demands a sizeable faith stretch.
It could be that their years of toil have created an earthy realism that now makes it difficult to see beyond the ‘here and now’. I would argue however, that all too often we set our sights too small. Whether in an individual’s encounter and discipleship journey or a community’s transformation we need to believe God for more than we currently do. DREAM BIGGER. Do your dreams for your church, mission project, community cause you to get on your knees? Do they demand an increase in your faith? Perhaps it’s time to dream a little bigger!
Speak it out
There is an essential first step to ensure that any dream starts to become a reality, that is to SPEAK IT OUT. It is as we embark on articulating that which up to now has been contained in the recesses of our mind that a number of key things start to happen. In hearing ourselves communicate the dream either in conversation or public communication we start to convince ourselves that what we have imagined might just be possible.
Secondly the dream as it is communicated, collides with other people’s minds and our original thoughts starts to become refined. Others can bring additional clarity, challenge and wisdom to what has been conceived in our minds. Finally it is the process of speaking out that begins to attract supporters, partners, those who will cheer us on and walk with us into this preferred future. These people are an essential part of helping our vision become reality.
Question: How will you carve our more time in the coming month to DREAM? Leave a comment below.