Big God, Big Dreams
- 2008 27 Oct
“There is no magic in small plans. When I consider my ministry, I think of the world. Anything less than that would not be worthy of Christ nor His will for my life.” -Henrietta Mears
Fear runs rampant when the economy takes a downturn. Everywhere we turn, we encounter bad economic news. The tendency is to hunker down, play it safe, and think small. Pursuing dreams is something one does in good economic times, right?
We need to be wise, not foolish, in the life choices we make. And yet, we must resist the temptation to think that God and His unlimited resources are affected by the mortgage industry, the unemployment rate, and the stock market. God is still sovereign, all-powerful, and completely capable of supplying you with all you need to do what He calls you to do. Perhaps what you need today is a fresh invitation to pursue a God-sized vision for your life.
What is “Christian Vision”?
Vision, as we are using the term, refers to the God-given ability to picture things in our minds that are not yet reality. For example, a couple envisions opening their home to foster children. A college student visualizes herself treating patients after completing her education to become a doctor. A woman pictures how her artistic gifts could be used to bring hope to children in a low-income neighborhood. A vision is a picture or idea of how God could use your gifts and your life to meet needs and accomplish his purposes.
“Christian vision,” explains theologian Os Guinness, “. . . is inspired directly or indirectly by the call of God. It is an act of imaginative seeing that combines the insight of faith, which goes to the heart of things below the surface, and the foresight of faith, which soars beyond the present with the power of a possible future. This combining of the not-yet-combined is the secret of visionary faith. . . . Dreamers of the day come into their own and stay on course when they follow the calling of Christ.”
Two Keys for Moving from Vision-less to Vision-Directed
In our career counseling practice we sometimes meet people who have a vision for their lives, and are seeking coaching to help them make their dream a reality. More often, however, we find that Christians have no compelling vision of what God is calling them to do with the time He has given them on this earth. They may feel stagnant, frustrated, depressed, bored, underutilized and purposeless. So how can you move toward a purposeful life that uses your gifts to make a difference in this world?
The first key is to risk enlarging your perspective of how God wants to use your life, allowing yourself to envision a “God-sized” calling. Such a calling is one that you cannot accomplish with your own power and resources. A God-sized calling, by definition, requires God’s power and resources to succeed. God has given you gifts and abilities to be used in your family, your neighborhood, your career, your church, your community, and the world at large.
The visions that God creates in our hearts and minds are always beyond what we feel is possible. As Andy Stanley says, “The task always appears to be out of reach. And the reason it appears that way is because it is. God-ordained visions are always too big for us to handle. We shouldn't be surprised. Consider the source.”
The second key is to risk taking steps of faith to discover God’s vision for your life. Many of us live as though we are waiting for God to send us his vision for our life via fax, e-mail, or a supernatural revelation—spelling out the actions we are to take in step-by-step detail. We also may want this divine message to include an ironclad guarantee that we will be safe from risk, financially secure, and successful in others’ eyes as we carry out this heavenly plan for our lives.
God doesn’t usually choose to work this way. Rather, we see in the lives of great people of faith, the journeys of our clients, and in our own lives that God often calls his people by creating a mental image or compelling idea of how our gifts can be used to meet needs in the world. The vision gives enough direction for us to step out in obedience and faith, but it doesn’t give all the details or guarantees about the outcome.
God’s Plan for Your Life
God-sized visions can be of differing dimensions and degrees of visibility. God might call one person to develop a new worldwide evangelism ministry that has an impact on millions; he might call another to start an outreach Bible study in her neighborhood. In one person God might instill a vision for a nonprofit organization that uses innovative ways to collect food in the community and distribute it to local ministries. In another person, the vision God plants may be one of making his church’s food bank more organized, efficient, and effective. You don’t know today, however, what God wants to do with you in the years to come.
The story of James Dobson and his founding of Focus on the Family exemplifies how a God-sized calling can begin. Today, the nonprofit organization has a multitude of ministries, including Dobson’s internationally syndicated radio programs, which are heard daily on more than three thousand radio stations in the United States and more than ninety-five other countries. Its magazines reach millions of households. The organization has had, and continues to have, an enormous impact on people throughout the world.
It all started as a God-inspired vision in the mind of a man who was willing to be used. “I wish I could say that I knew where the Lord was leading when I started Focus on the Family, but that is not true,” said Dobson. “I simply felt He wanted me to prepare a regular broadcast and to speak to family-related issues.” So he stepped out in faith, renting a tiny office in Arcadia, California, to begin his radio program. “Everything that has happened since then has been a surprise and a labor of love.”
Most of us will not be called to develop and lead an international organization. You will never discover how God has created you to be used in this world, however, until you step out in faith to pursue a God-given dream. But how do you know if your dream is from the Lord?
One test is that God-inspired visions of your calling always have doing the work of God’s kingdom as their ultimate goal. As Andy Stanley says, “God's ultimate plan for your life reaches beyond the visions he's given you for your family, business, ministry, and finances. He has positioned you in your culture as a singular point of light. A beacon in a world that desperately needs to see something divine, something that is clearly not of this world.”
Risk Trusting God
From our human perspective, stepping out in faith to work at a God-given calling feels like a risk. From God’s perspective, trusting Him in faith is the only way to live our lives. You will only discover what God has created you to do when you “risk” following Him rather than playing it safe. God is faithful, and He is creative, often surprising us in how he works in our lives. “As workers for God we have to learn to make room for God—to give God ‘elbow room,’” entreats Oswald Chambers. “Keep your life so constant in its contact with God that His surprising power may break out on the right hand and on the left. Always be in a state of expectancy, and see that you leave room for God to come in as He likes.”
Remember to trust Scripture instead of the news you read about the state of the world. Remember that you have been designed for a purpose. And, remember that “with God, nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). In spite of the economy or your circumstances, you can discover and live your God-given calling, and experience the purposefulness and joy that comes from doing the things you were created to do.
Adapted from Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck by permission of Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint.
Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck are the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. They are National Certified Career Counselors and recognized experts in helping people identify their giftedness and find their purpose in life. Their websites, www.ChristianCareerCenter.com and www.ChurchJobsOnline.com, feature hundreds of job listings from churches, ministries, and Christian employers; a resume bank; career articles; and a free consultation session for individuals interested in career counseling/coaching and testing to discover work that fits their God-given design.