Clarify Your God-Given Dreams

I believe God has certain roles He wants each of us to fill in this world. If Jesus is our Lord, we have surrendered our life to Him. This means that all we do is out of a desire to honor him. God has certain things He wants each of us to do.

Many of us have read the directives from Jesus to all believers to: “love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37 & 39). Every believer is also challenged: “Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matthew 28: 19-20). We might even look at verses like 1 Corinthians 10: 31, which tells us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

These are some of the general duties of all who love Jesus and want to live for God.

There are also examples where God called individuals in the Bible to do certain things or go to certain places.

God told Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12: 1-3).

God told Jeremiah the prophet,

I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.

On the other hand, there are times when God specifically told someone not to do a certain thing. God told Balaam in Numbers 22: 12, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” And God said to King David, “You must not build a Temple to honour my name, for you are a warrior and have shed much blood.” (1 Chronicles 28: 3).

I think that God is asking each of us to do certain things as well, beyond the general directives He has given to all believers. He gives us dreams for our lives, for our families, for our community and nation, for our church or our work.

What dreams has God given to you? Is it possible that God has a certain plan He has been revealing to you over time? It probably has to do with who you are as a person. God has given you certain gifts and talents and skills which you have learned over time. God has placed you in a certain community and among a specific group of people.

You live in a specific neighbourhood and country. Maybe you have recognized a need somewhere. An experience opened your eyes to the need in a personal way, and you just can’t shake the feeling that God wants you to do something about it. You love God and want to obey him, and you are trying to discern what God is actually asking you to do.

What dreams has God given to you? Is it possible that God has a certain plan He has been revealing to you over time? It probably has to do with who you are as a person. God has given you certain gifts and talents and skills which you have learned over time. God has placed you in a certain community and among a specific group of people. You live in a specific neighbourhood and country. Maybe you have recognized a need somewhere. An experience opened your eyes to the need in a personal way, and you just can’t shake the feeling that God wants you to do something about it. You love God and want to obey him, and you are trying to discern what God is actually asking you to do.

If you are struggling with what God is really wanting you to do, can I suggest a few options you might consider as you try to determine God’s dreams for you?

First, pray. As a Christian you are probably already praying. Don’t quit. Keep on asking God for clarity. Ask him to speak to you directly in some way. I believe that God still speaks, if we only listen. Pray as if you are in a real conversation with God. This means you present your requests and concerns, and expect him to reply. Listen to what He is saying. You might do well to invite a few close friends to pray with you.

Second, read scripture. One way God speaks is through His Word. Spend time reading and meditating on scripture. Use scripture in your prayers, and watch for what God may be saying directly to you through scripture.

Third, invite the wise counsel of trusted advisors. Proverbs 20:18: “Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without wise advice.” There is value in asking the advice of others. Hopefully you have some wise and godly older men or women you can call on.

Fourth, research. Find out all you can about what you believe God is calling you to. Are others doing similar things? See if you can pick their brain about it. Find out what the real needs are in the areas of concern you believe God is placing on your heart.

Fifth, trust God’s wisdom. God’s Word tells us in James 5:1, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.” God says that if we ask for wisdom, we should just ask and we will get it. Begin to move ahead in the direction your God-given dreams are leading. It’s okay if you aren’t clear on exactly what it will look like, but begin to move and allow God to refine your direction as you trust in His wisdom. I have had to make small course corrections along the way as God continues to direct.

I believe that God puts certain dreams on each of our hearts. Some of us have them clearly articulated while others may not and are instead faithfully doing what they can to love God and love people.

Each of us can figure out exactly where we fit, where the person we are with our gifts and skills and even our unique idiosyncrasies, can serve the needs God has place on our hearts. I hope you can find a way to never feel like a square peg in a round hole again.

Keep looking up

Andy Wiebe

Planning Ahead Raises Your Level of Excellence

My wife and I are planning for a short holiday. We are planning ahead. We are planning for the middle of January 2022, about three months from now. Planning ahead his beneficial for a few reasons: we can make sure we have time off, we can get a cheaper price, we can make sure that everything will be taken care of at home while we are away, we can set aside a little extra money in the next couple of months, we can try to prepare for any covid-related restrictions or obstacles, and we get to build excitement as we anticipate some time for just the two of us away from home and the daily routine. Planning ahead means that it will be a much better experience than if we had just decided to wait till a few days before and then quickly tried planning something.

I’m sure you do some planning for events in your home. You plan to be at your kids’ sports activities. You plan for Christmas. Your child is planning for graduation.

Why is it that we seem to avoid planning too far ahead in our churches?

Sermons and services are prepared each week from scratch to be ready for Sunday. Meetings come up and we rush to make sure there is an agenda and then run off to the meeting. We arrange for a visit with church members, but hardly give it a thought until we arrive at their door. What if we planned ahead?

Planning ahead is valuable, and can raise the level of excellence in your ministry. Planning ahead:

  1. Demonstrates that you care about what you are planning – you have put some thought into it rather than just hoping it will all work out.
  2. Means you have a clarified vision and purpose – and gives you time to develop and apply those.
  3. Results in well-prepared events. You have time to research each aspect and prepare any documents or tools you need to make the event a success.
  4. Allows others to be involved in the planning process. You can work as a team, and can collaborate with others who are part of that event.
  5. Avoids conflicts. You can make sure to avoid any conflicting appointments or events at that time.
  6. Helps you test your plans. You have time to work on issues you may face at the event.
  7. Gives you more time to spend in prayer ahead of time.

Let’s look at how planning ahead raises the level of excellence of the event.

Meetings

If you plan ahead, you can make sure all the people who should be at the meeting are notified in advance so they can either book that time for themselves or let you know of conflicts so you can reschedule. Planning ahead allows you to ensure you have an appropriate meeting room, necessary research and documents are prepared, and an agenda can be created with participant input. You can even arrange for someone to provide drinks and snacks. This also gives you time to ensure that you are comfortable with the technology you will be using (and test any videos, etc.) or that tech support will be available.

Visits:

Most pastors will at some point visit with members, either at their home or over coffee at a local restaurant. You could just show up and hope the conversation goes well, or you could plan ahead. If you want to raise the level of excellence for a visit, do a few things to prepare. You could make sure you know who you are meeting, especially if you do not know them well. I once was asked by a funeral home to call and provide pastoral help, to a family who had lost a loved one. I called and asked for who I thought I was to speak to, only to realize I had gotten things confused and I was asking for the deceased father! Make sure you know who you are meeting with.

Even if you know them well, you may want to think of past conversations.  Have they asked for prayer recently? It might be good to check up on that. You might want to remind yourself of who is in their family, and the names of their children.

As the pastor, you might even think through where they are at spiritually and how you could use this meeting to help disciple them. Are there some issues that you want to challenge them with? Is there a volunteer position you would like them to consider?

And be ready to have a fun and enjoyable time with them.

Worship Services

The Sunday morning worship service is the main event in a local church. While there are numerous moving parts to the service, it is amazing how many churches don’t plan very far in advance. Too often staff and volunteers rush around each week to be ready for Sunday. This means there is little opportunity to consider anything creative, and instead, to keep up each week, churches keep doing the same old service each week with just a couple of different songs and a new sermon.

You, pastor (or preaching team), would do well to plan ahead. I have tried to usually plan a year ahead. This allows me to think through the needs of my congregation, and plan around and for special days and seasons throughout the year. Taking this approach has allowed me to prepare a balanced preaching schedule, so I’m not surprised when Easter or Christmas arrive.

I don’t have every sermon prepared a year in advance, but I have a general idea of the scriptures and themes I will be addressing throughout the year, so that they are in my mind as I come across good quotes or creative ideas that fit a certain upcoming theme.

Planning the sermon text and themes ahead of time means I can better work with others, too. Sharing the upcoming sermon themes with a music pastor or worship planning team means they can also plan ahead. They might want to prepare special music around holidays or special events, or add creative elements such as preparing a skit or reading. This enables others involved in the services to prepare in a way that complements the sermon.

You raise the level of excellence when everyone involved knows what is going on and can make sure their part fits well. You raise the level of excellence when people can practice and prepare ahead of time for some more unique additions to your service. You raise the level of excellence by having the time to do better.

I want to encourage you to plan ahead. Not just for meetings and visits and services, but in all your responsibilities.

Do you want to raise your level of excellence? Planning ahead is a great place to start!

Keep looking up

Andy

www.elevatecoaching-consulting.com