STOP Following Your Dreams!
If you can believe it, you can achieve it; dream big and never give up; follow your dreams at any cost. These are just a few of the myriad clichés floating through the ether about our dreams. A dream can inspire one to innovation, transformation, and success. Scarcely is a self-help book written that is not the result of someone abiding in the “follow your dreams” mentality. One man’s dream may inspire others to see the success of his dream or to dream bigger for themselves. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is not supportive of the idea of focusing on a vision until it is actualized. After all, you only live once.
What is a dream? A dream is simply a desire for something that is not yet real. Whether that desire is wrought from necessity or from whimsy it remains a desire. To further clarify, in our modern parlance, a dream is generally the thing that we want most out of life. More often than not it is linked to a career path. Very rarely do we find one’s dreams to be anything less than self serving, though they may, as a byproduct, serve others in some capacity. I would dare to say that money/materialism is inextricably tied to most people’s dreams in some capacity. There are, of course, exceptions to everything, but this is speaking in general terms. Many people dream of freedom for example, which may have nothing to do with materialism at all but we are, here, speaking of dreams in the often used modern sense.
This subject is being approached from a decidedly Christian perspective and, as such, it is the objective to withhold conjecture from the matter, as natural inclinations are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Personal opinions (wants) like personal taste in music cannot be transferred in any meaningful sense and are ultimately useless. One man may enjoy listening to Chopin, while another enjoys B.B. King. It is purely a matter of opinion as to which artist is “better.” Opinions seek to answer subjective questions; we are seeking to answer an objective question. A personal something is not an objective anything. What are those things common to all of us; those universal truths that remain despite opinions? This is the goal. So, should people follow their dreams? NO!
Stop following your dreams! Notice what was NOT said; “stop feeling a certain way,” or “stop wanting something.” We are not speaking of a mere proclivity, but the acting upon it. One may be predisposed to attend live heavy metal rock concerts. If the question were posed: “How can I prevent my hearing from diminishing?” The answer would be, “Stop attending heavy metal rock concerts.” So, what is the real supposed question in mind. We suppose that anyone endeavoring to follow their dreams ultimately wants their highest good. They are following their dreams because they suppose that the achievement of them is in their best interest and is therefore worth the pursuit; the pursuit of happiness. People tend to suppose that the fulfillment of a dream will bring about the highest form of happiness. With this supposed objective in mind we will now address why “following your dreams” is the most destructive maxim in today’s world.
“Follow your dreams” is a phrase that presupposes you are in control of your own destiny; the god of your life, so to speak. When one makes declarative statements about their life with absolute authority they usurp the One that gave them the breath to declare it in the first place. The pot, ever questioning the potter, knowing nothing of pot making but only of “pot being.” The pursuit of dreams is predicated upon the notions that one has the right to pursue them and that those dreams are worthy of pursuit. But, where has this idea come from? Propaganda! The propaganda of cultures, both modern and past (there is nothing new under the sun). We must begin at the beginning.
Man has no rights any more than a pot has a say in what it is or what its purpose “ought” to be. God has made man for His own purposes (Jeremiah 1:5), and therefore our only dream ought to be whatever His will is (Matthew 26:42); to please the one who gave us life. The pride of man is challenged by nothing else in creation. The sum of creation could not begin to approach the Everest of pride that exists in a 3 year old child, much less a 43 year old “well educated” man. We begin from a place of absolute authority, and lead ourselves down a path of destruction rather than saying, “What has God said?” Dreams consume people; they will go without food and sleep in some cases to achieve them. This unbridled pursuit of mere desires is covetousness and idolatry (Colossians 3:5). Any “dream” which does not have as its chief end, ‘submission to God and the glorification of Jesus,’ is a sure path to destruction. Let’s not mince words here; following your dreams will lead you straight to hell. Harsh words you say? The concern should rather be what is true, not palatable. Gravity is not a particularly pleasant reality at times, but one to be diligently heeded when in high places. Palatable or not; is it true?
Dreams are the pursuit of our own desires, whose end is death (Proverbs 14:12). Jesus said very clearly, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). The pursuit of our natural desires is in accord with fallen man and the disregard of God. In effect, this is a violation of the First commandment which says “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). When we define our own terms have we not become gods unto ourselves? Jesus further clarified that the first and great command is to, “…love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew22:37). How can I love God with all of my being, when I am the dictator of my being’s every action? That type of rule is indicative of an unparalleled love of self. This is exactly what propaganda has duped people into believing. Our problem is not that we need to learn how to love ourselves, it is that we need to learn how to love God. When we do this, we will begin to hate ourselves (Romans 7:24), and understand that within us no good thing dwells (Romans 7:18). The great lie being perpetuated today is that you are amazing just the way you are, and that all of your natural inclinations are beautiful and God given. Banish the thought! Your dreams are the result of God-hating machinations, whose chief end is unabashed selfishness. Recall the interaction with Jesus and a rich young ruler, who when propositioned with abandoning his possessions (dreams) to follow Christ, “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22).
What does it matter if you achieve every dream you’ve ever dreamed if you should lose your own soul? What dream will you give in exchange for your soul (Matthew 16:26)? If the pursuit of dreams is ultimately to achieve “happiness” and “fulfillment” should this not be done with eternity in mind? Happiness cannot be intelligibly spoken of without viewing it from eternity. Eternity is the place where happiness is permanently actualized or forfeited. “Happiness” rooted in temporal things is not true happiness but vaporous euphoria. Any “dream” that meets its death at the same time you do is a vain pursuit. 30 seconds inside eternity all of your dreams will look rather grim. If your life has been spent pursuing your own desires to the exclusion of God, you will stand before Him in shame and hear the dreadful words of Jesus, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This is no light matter. Your dreams can and will send you to hell. Your self love can and will send you to hell. Your wholehearted pursuit of ANYTHING other than Jesus Christ Himself, can and will send you to hell.
Don’t hear what is not being said. One can pursue God, bringing glory to Jesus and be quite “successful” or innovative. The 17th century is replete with scientists who invented disciplines and were Christians. But, to pursue any goal that doesn’t have God in mind as its chief motivation, no matter how noble it may appear, is a death trap. In fact, for many scientists, it was their devotion to God that inspired them to study His creation. Incidentally, when one is first devoted to God, innovation is the natural byproduct. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford, and Cambridge were all divinity schools initially. The pursuit of God had as its natural byproduct the highest standard of education in general, and thereby innovation. George Muller founded the Ashley Down Orphanage in Bristol, England, and cared for over 10,000 orphans during his lifetime. He established 117 schools that educated some 120,000 children. Muller’s innovation was fueled first by his love of God, not his love of self, or the desire for some personal dream. Though the “dream” was personal to him, it was not for him, ultimately, but for God. This type of dream has the dual benefit of both temporal and eternal fulfillment.
Our world is saturated with the the unified theme of “YOU.” We have been lied to by blind leaders who, themselves, are in desperate need of guides. In short, the next time you hear the phrase “follow your dreams” you can rest assured that God has nothing to do with the sentiment. At best it is the creation of a wicked and deceived heart, and is very likely the invention of Satan himself; the father of lies. Everything about the concept of “your dreams” is a grotesque elevation of the stature of man; temerarious foolishness, indeed. If we are going to dream of anything we should dream of God. If we are going to pursue anything it should be His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). True happiness can only be achieved by being in communion with the source of it. Happiness is not something that is found within, but without. Just as with “love” if our definition of “happiness” is off target, then our entire course is off. Now, if your chief goal is to achieve temporal euphoria, with no concern of eternal torment and separation from God then, by all means, follow your dreams. But if, on the other hand, you are concerned with being ultimately happy, then it would be better to experience untold temporal misery, rejection, desolation, and shame in this life for the sake of eternal happiness in the next. Yet, when the Christian is weak, then he is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
What then is the conclusion: If your dreams have as their chief end, the pursuit of Christ and His glory, and have been tested against the Word of God to see if they are truly noble, then pursue them with all diligence. If, however, they are the result of mere desire and are precluding you, in any way, from pursuing Christ and His glory then abandon them at once. If it would be better to enter heaven maimed and without hands that caused you to sin (Matthew 18:8), how much more (and easier) to enter heaven with certain “dreams” unattained? Many a rich man remains in the throes of untold depression and despair seeking to be fulfilled by that which cannot fulfill, and many a beggar is content (and even temporally happy) with his lot, knowing the eternal riches and bliss that await him in Christ Jesus.
If you want eternal happiness, it will come at the expense of your “dreams” which only seem to provide happiness. Just as cotton candy provides apparent sustenance, so does the realization of an earthly dream provide apparent happiness. It is all fluff. The pursuit of a temporal dream will result in an eternal nightmare. Let God, instead, be the author of your dreams. Let HIS dreams be your pursuit.
STOP following your dreams!!!! START following Jesus! Count the cost (Luke 14:28).