When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him (Gen. 37:4).

Here comes that dreamer...Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns (Gen. 37:19-20).

The church is becoming progressively more effective at driving out most of its dreamers.

How did we get so mean?

  • It may be from a fear that God's love, blessings, and opportunities are limited and we need to protect what we have by driving others out.

  • It may come from comparing ourselves to others rather than having a team collaboration attitude.

  • It may be an overreaction to the fall of Christian leaders in our country who have tainted our message, so we reject anyone who is in the spotlight.

  • It may be that we have a fear that God doesn't love us completely, and turn that fear into meanness.

Are you mean-spirited?

  • Do you find yourself giving twice as many criticisms as compliments?

  • Have others left your circle of fellowship without talking with you? Give them a call and ask them why they left. You may learn a lot about yourself and your church.

  • Have you decided that the church is a bunch of hypocrites and that the place for you is in the safety of your own prayer closet at home? If so, you might simply be hurt. Be careful that you don't do the same thing to others.

  • Have you ever dropped your teacher or pastor a note that just said, Hey, good job.? If not, you may be silently contributing to the demise of some great dream.

  • What is your first reaction to a new vision or dream at your church? Is it, Wouldn't it be exciting to see that occur? Or do you think of all the details that it would take to fulfill it? Worse yet, do you privately start adding up how much it will cost you?

  • Have you forgotten that the gifted people you know have feelings?

Turn the trend:

  • Respond in the opposite spirit. When criticized, respond with appreciation. When on the receiving end of anger, respond with peace. When taken for granted, respond with thanks.

  • Recognize any fears in your own heart and replace them with an understanding of God's love. Remind yourself that He has plenty of dreams to go around.

  • If you are in the pit, thank Him for it. Know that good will come from it if you do His will.

  • Remind yourself that a dream from God is bigger than anyone's attempt to kill it.

  • Remember that the source of the mean-spiritedness around you may be found in your own heart. Be humble. Be willing to change. Become committed to creating a dreamer-friendly environment.

  • Accept failure. Embrace the one who failed and expect success to grow from the ashes of defeat. Verbalize your expectation that ashes will be turned to beauty and ruins into an architectural masterpiece.

From Achieving Your Dreams: The Joseph Factor by Doug Murren, copyright (c) 1993, 1999. Used by permission of Fire Wind, an imprint of Kingdom Publishing, Mansfield, Penn., 1-800-525-7339.

Doug Murren led his church in Kirkland, Wash., from 10 people to more than 4,000 in weekly attendance. A nationally acclaimed innovator and pioneer in ministry, his insights on change in the church have been applied across denominational lines throughout North America. Doug and is wife, Debra, have two grown children and live in the Seattle area.