Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Thou Shalt Follow
Thy Dreams

By Dennis Pollock


My wife, Benedicta, loves singing competitions, and being the dutiful husband that I am, I watch them with her, even though I would prefer a good western or a classic movie. The other day we were watching the show American Idol. This show features singing hopefuls who sing before three judges in the early stages, attempting to gain their approval, in order to move forward to the next rounds of the competition. One of the judges was the popular singing star Katie Perry, who is usually lively, outgoing, and sympathetic toward all the singers, even when they obviously do not have the talent to win the competition.


Recently, a young female singer was introduced to the three judges, and as usual, they made small talk before she sang. Katy asked the singer a common question about whether winning American Idol was her dream. The girl paused, as though unsure as to how to answer her, and then said that she didn't know; she was still processing the whole experience.


This was clearly not the answer Katy was expecting or wanting. She instantly morphed from friendly Katy to hostile Katy and told the girl something like this: "Well, if you don't know whether this is your dream, you had better leave because there are plenty of people behind you who have big dreams of winning this thing." It was an awkward moment, and to the singing hopeful's credit, she did not cave; she did not immediately "repent" and suggest that she was misunderstood, and that yes, this was her dream, this was the major goal of her entire life.


The girl went on to sing for the judges and did a credible job. She had a good, if not great voice, certainly as good as others that had won their "golden ticket" to go to Hollywood and participate in the next round of the competition.  But as the judges deliberated and talked further with the singer, Katy made reference to the idea of making this her dream a couple of more times, and you got the impression that in Katy's mind, the very thought that winning American Idol was not the supreme goal of this young woman's life was horrifying and nearly unforgiveable. In the end Katy reluctantly gave her vote to send her on to Hollywood and the next round, but it was obvious that she wasn't very happy about this girl and her lack of musical dreams.


Commandment #1


If there is one thing, I have learned by watching American Idol and other singing competitions, it is that the Number One Commandment among all these people, both judges and competitors, is: "Thou Shalt Follow Your Dream" of being a successful, popular, and wealthy professional singer. Often the singers will state that they have no plan B in their lives – they will either make it as big-name singer, or they will perish. No working at a restaurant, office or grocery store for them!


They will pursue their dreams regardless of how long they take to be fulfilled or how much their family must suffer as a result. And often, when a singer wins one of these competitions and they are asked, "What have you learned from this whole experience?" they will answer in lockstep with all who have gone before them: "I have learned that you must follow your dreams. If you do that, eventually it will pay off."


In some ways, you can hardly blame them. Following their dreams did indeed work out well for them. As children, they had dreams of becoming a successful singer, and now they are being crowned the best of the best and given a major contract with a recording company. And their thinking is: "It worked for me and if it worked for me, it will work for everybody."


But of course, that is patently false. The truth is, that it does not work for everybody; in fact it works for only a tiny few. The people they beat out in their competition, those hundreds and thousands who competed against them had dreams just as big, just as powerful as their dreams, but it did not work out for them at all. The great majority of these folks will go back home to their construction jobs, waitress jobs, office jobs, or teaching jobs and life will go right back to normal. No contract, no confetti falling on their heads, no interviews with the early morning talk shows. Just ordinary life, the way most of us live every day, dreams or no dreams.


Dreams Can Rob Us


This is not only true of singers; it is true in all kinds of professions. Everyday hundreds of thousands of poor young men who live in poor neighborhoods go down to the basketball court and shoot hoops for hours. They hope to become the next basketball superstar, like their heroes in the NBA. And a few of them will succeed, but it will be very, very few. 99 percent of them will never make it into professional basketball, and their time would have been far better spent studying hard in school, making a diligent effort, not to be a superstar, but to get a good job as an adult, to be able to raise a family comfortably, pay their bills and enjoy a pleasant and fulfilling life.


Christians do not think like the world thinks. When these young singing wannabes proclaim that their dream is to become a renowned singer, they are usually not thinking about how they could honor Christ through their singing, or bless many people and bear much fruit for God through a successful career. They are usually thinking about the pleasure of fame, and having people clamor for their autographs, and everyone telling them how special they are. They are thinking about how nice it would be to make millions of dollars and all the things they could buy with those millions. And of course, they are thinking about how fantastic it would be to cut a few records every year and do concerts, compared with their present job at Wal Mart. Yeah, that would be the life! And by all means, I must follow my dream and do everything I can to make it happen!


Believers' Dreams


Are followers of Jesus Christ allowed to have dreams? Yes, we are, but our dreams of glorious future careers or ministries must be subservient to our one real passion, which is to please, follow, and serve our Lord Jesus. The question is not what dreams we have for ourselves, but what are His dreams for us, or to put it more Biblically, what is God's calling on our lives. Just we because we want something badly does not automatically guarantee that this is God's will for us. Our goal is not to be rich or famous or to be the very best in our field; it is for us to discern precisely what God's plan is for us and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus so that this plan may be perfectly fulfilled. Whether we rank as the very best in our profession, or end up somewhere in the middle, well, that is God's business, as long as we are doing the best we can by the grace of God.


Tom Landry was a coach of the Dallas Cowboys professional football team for nearly thirty years, and he brought his team to the Super Bowl in five different seasons, winning two of them. He was considered, in the 1970's, one of the most successful football coaches in the world. You might say that all his football dreams had come true. Once, after the Cowboys won the Super Bowl, a reporter asked him how he felt about winning the biggest football game in the world. His reply must have shocked the reporter and many of the audience who heard that interview. Landry stated that it was great to win the Super Bowl, but that his life was bigger than football. Jesus Christ and God were what his life was all about. Family came next and football came in at a distant third.


Amen, Brother Tom. Our life is bigger than fame, money, popularity or TV cameras in our face. Our life is about service to God and our fellow man. True greatness does not consist in talent alone; it is made from godly character. Our Lord Jesus gives us the true definition of greatness, saying:


"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave–just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28).




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