Almost everyone dreams about the life they want to live. As children we have dreams about doing various things with our lives. People dream about the kind of career they want to have, the person they want to marry, the financial security they hope to obtain, the kind of house in which they will live, the number of children they will have, and the list goes on. At some point in most people’s lives they realize many of their dreams did not come to pass. For some, this is a painful reality and they live their lives with regrets.
Why do many of our dreams never materialize? While there may be many reasons, some beyond our control, one of the primary reasons is fear. We were afraid to take the next step to make our dreams happen. Perhaps a door of opportunity presented itself, but fear kept us from walking through it. For some people it is the fear of failure. They are so afraid of failing they never even make the attempt.
What exactly is fear? Some define fear as False Evidence Appearing Real. I think that’s a good description. As we contemplate doing something we want to do voices begin to tell us that it’s impossible for us to achieve that. Some of those voices are external; some are in our heads, but we believe them. We find all kinds of reasons why we can’t do something we want to do, and we convince ourselves that those reasons are valid. They appear real so they keep us stuck and prevent us from achieving our dreams.
I’ve know that kind of fear as many of you have. I was 39 years old when I decided I wanted to go to college. I was working in a factory full-time, serving as a bivocational pastor, and had a wife and two kids. I wasn’t the greatest student in high school, but now I wanted to earn a college degree. Many people told me I was crazy. Some asked me how long I thought it would take me to graduate, and I responded I thought I could do it in seven years while doing everything else I was doing. It took seven years. I was 46 years old when I walked to receive my diploma. I would later go on to earn a master’s and doctorate. I got the doctorate when I was 62. If I had listened to my fears I would never have taken the first class.
In 1997 I wanted to write a book about bivocational ministry. The problem was that I knew nothing about how to write a book or get one published. It seemed like an impossible task, but in 2000 my first book was published. Today I have eight ministry related books that have been published. If I had listened to the fears that told me I couldn’t do something like that I would have never written the first page.
What are your dreams? What would you like to accomplish with your life? What is holding you back? You can live out many of your dreams, but not if you allow fear to stand in the way. Overcome that fear by learning as much as you can about what you want to accomplish and then begin taking small steps to accomplish it. As you take small steps you will be building momentum that will allow you to achieve far more than you may have thought possible. Believe me, there is nothing like seeing a dream become a reality in your life.