I’m a dreamer. Always have been, always will be. At any given moment my mind is a million miles away dreaming of some idea, some plan, some far-off ideal to work towards. And it drives people crazy.
One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. “Listen to this dream,” he said. “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. (Genesis 37:5-8 NLT)
An American friend once described English culture as like garden in the Spring – the second a daisy pops its head above the rest someone comes along and cuts it down to everyone else’s level. You see, we are not like our continental cousins. We do not celebrate pioneers and entrepreneurs as embodiments of the American Dream. We seem to, well, hate them.
I was musing on this the other day as I read the story of Joseph and his sweet coat in Genesis 37. I think the coat is not massively relevant to the story, but maybe it’s a metaphor for the colourful kaleidoscope of thoughts in the mind of dreamers like old Joe. So I thought I’d explore this idea some more, and turn it into a little guide for dreamers.
Guard Your Dreams
A dear friend once warned me, ‘Guard your dreams’. Shame no-one was there to warn Joseph about that. His dreaming (and tactless sharing thereof) got him beaten up, thrown in a pit and sold into slavery. Not really what he had in mind. Us dreamers need to be careful about blabbing the secret dreams of our heart. Maybe God has called you to do something, maybe something which seems ‘big’. Maybe you’re not just a dreamer, but a visionary leader in the making. Here’s a tip: people don’t like hearing from a nobody that they are going to be led by them. This, as Joseph learned, is particularly true in families and close communities. Even Jesus’ home town didn’t respect him. Leaders are not trained or chosen, they just are. Another dear friend once said,
It’s easy to tell if you’re a leader, look behind and see if anyone’s following
Maybe those dreams you have are from on high, maybe you are called to start and lead some great new thing. So maybe keep it to yourself and a trusted friend. People don’t necessarily want to hear about the the great things you’re going to do, just get on with it and let them see for themselves. As Shakespeare once said, “Jealousy is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat on which it feeds”, this powerful emotion can get you into serious trouble, especially when you provoke it in others.
Stay Faithful, Stay Humble, Keep Your Integrity
So you, like Joseph, have some great dreams. But where are they right now? Maybe you’ve had them since your youth but right now you’re sitting alone, in a pit, in the desert (hopefully metaphorically, if not maybe shout ‘HELP’ or learn morse code?). God gave Joseph some amazing dreams, dreams of greatness, and make no mistake, they were God-Given. Imagine how he felt about those dreams while sitting alone in that pit, battererd and bleeding. Or chained-up in a procession of slaves marching through the desert, or sitting in a prison cell after being falsely accused of rape? Sometimes dreams are a long way off. God has given you a purpose but it might be a long, winding road to get there. Did Joseph give up on his dreams? No. Instead of getting bitter and angry he stayed faithful to God, and did whatever he was doing with all his heart. And what did he do when things started going well? He took no credit but glorified God:
So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “ It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16 NKJV)
And then of course there was the other thing. Joseph quickly rose to power in Potiphar’s house, it was clear that he was a gifted, faithful and capable man. And he was kind of hot. I’m not sure what it is about power that attracts a certain kind of woman, but Potiphar’s wife was one of them. Make no mistake dreamers, people will find your passion, your drive and your confidence attractive. Temptation in many forms will come your way, whether it’s sex, money, power or something else. Take a tip from Joe, do what he did: RUN LIKE THE WIND! The thing is, he probably could have gotten away with it, Potiphar’s wife was unlikely to tell anyone, she had her little toy boy right where she wanted him. But Joseph chose the other way, he kept his integrity and respected his master.
Make The Most of Opportunities
Want to know the best way to make sure your dreams won’t come true? Sit around on your own feeling sorry for yourself. Get out there and make the most of opportunities. Bitter, defeated people don’t get given many chances. Wherever Jospeh was, and whatever he was doing, he did it with all his heart, he did it well, and he did it for God. Each time an opportunity came by he seized it. Had he not befriended his fellow inmates and offered some godly council, he never would have met Pharaoh.
I’ve spent the last 10 years working a job I don’t like very much, that’s tiring and that isn’t great for my health. At times, I’ve felt incredibly frustrated and not understood why. All the dreams I had seemed so far away and I felt…. imprisoned. This led to bitterness and isolation. It was only when I started to lay my dreams in God’s hands that things improved. Only when I made a conscious choice to trust God with my dreams, and to worship and serve Him whether they came to fruit or not, that was when things started to change. It’s been a hard journey, but I’m finally seeing some of those dreams come to life. Save yourself the pain, don’t get bitter. Don’t get angry at those who don’t recognise your dreams and gifts. Be faithful in what you’re doing and look for opportunities to help and support the dreams of others. Your day will come. Maybe soon, maybe not. Moses, David, Abraham, Joseph and many more had to wait to see their dreams come alive. Like, a really long time. But they all saw the promised land eventually.
And When the Dreams Start Coming True?
Well, I’ll let you know in a few years! For now I intend to follow old Joe’s example:
To guard my dreams – some things stay between me and God, other things are ok to share a little of. That’s where discernment comes in.
To stay Faithful, humble and keep my integrity – exiting things are starting to happen for me, but the dream is not the goal, the goal is to walk with God. So I’m doing my best to keep my eyes on the straight and narrow
To make the most of opportunities – For a long time opportunities seemed few and far between, but now there are many more coming my way. I’m making the most of them when they come along, but choosing to invest in those which support my core vison.
I hope these thoughts have been helpful, and if you’re a dreamer, then dream on! I pray that God gives you big dreams to do things no-one else is daring to do. In this cynical, hurting world we need dreamers. They give us hope.