Saturday, 9 June 2012

Dreams of Greatness

For many years, possibly because of coming from a poor background, I have had dreams of greatness.   For a long time I wanted to be a successful rock musician, and become wildly rich and famous; now, I want to be a successful published author, but I don’t care so much about the rich and famous bit, although of course I want to earn a decent living.  For much of my wild dreams of wealth and success, I never really included God; I neglected my faith, in fact I was completely faithless.  Now I’m a Christian who just wants to serve the Lord on a daily and on-going basis.

What does this all mean for my dreams of greatness, my dreams of being a published author and my dreams of success?  I still believe I, like anyone else, have the right to dream of a better life and to be doing very much in life what I want to do, and what I want to achieve, but now it’s a God-centred dream rather than a self-centred dream.  How does that work out you may ask?  I think in the first instance that God is in actual fact the shaper of our dreams, goals and any vision of a better life we might have; in fact I pray regularly for a better life.  What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31 NIV)  So God is a source we can call on and rely on.  Secondly, being God-centred and not self-centred, I can do things for the right reason rather than purely selfish reasons.  That means that I am motivated for honest reasons and that at the same time I don’t do anything that goes against God, other people and my Christian faith.  It’s possible to be a Christian and want to be successful after all.  Thirdly, I come from a poor background, and like anyone who comes from such a background, I need to get on and make money and put bread on the table.  It seems that even in democratic and modern Britain, there is an often unspoken assumption or emphasis that only those already wealthy and privileged have a right to get on; when ordinary people aspire to better things and dream of better lives, we challenge this unfair assumption.

Far from believing that God wants His followers to somehow be justified by living in some kind of want or poverty, I have come to the understanding that God is the perfect source for nurturing all our dreams, adding that much needed touch of reality certainly, but that with God in our lives we might very well see our dreams realised and He can take us to places we never even dreamed of or imagined.

But, what of dreams of greatness?  Well, that’s another story entirely.  There is a danger in certain kinds of feelings of greatness that can be distorted into very selfish aims that are all about ego and self and little to do with God’s greatness; the danger even for Christians is that we can confuse the two and mix the two and start to get self-important and think that we are super-special and that our destiny is to be great and important; sometimes that thinking can be totally wrong and take people out on a tangent, really into a wilderness of their own making.  Being a Christian should make us genuinely humble, not seeking greatness or importance, usually self-importance, but seeking God’s will for our lives, whatever that may mean.  Within this reality we can and certainly should pray about our ambitions and goals and shouldn’t think that we can’t have dreams and ambition as Christians; on the contrary, God is the very person who we can build our whole lives on, not just our spiritual lives.

So many people I think do have dreams of greatness; their lives are ordinary, mundane, everyday and even perhaps boring.  Nothing out of the usual happens, we have the same food week in week out, we don’t expect anything really out-of-the-ordinary to happen to us and guess what it doesn’t, and the only real drama in our lives at times seems to be that on the soap opera we just can’t stop watching; what’s the answer?  Sometimes we have to live in the ordinary, no matter who we are.  Life is found in the ordinary; getting out of bed in the morning, doing what we have to do, eating our tea, having a routine if possible, and then going to bed till the next morning when we probably do it all over again. 

Is there an exciting life to be had, and does it involve money?  I think faith and living the Christian life is exciting, even if we find our present circumstances seem anything but exciting.  There are many questions to be asked here, and I can’t promise answers because I seek them myself.  The first question is what do we want out of life.  Do we want to do something with it?  Do we want to accept that life isn’t always wonderful but still after that can we make our lives better?  Is God in fact the provider of a better life?  I believe He is; it starts with trusting Him and having faith in Him, even when our lives might be humdrum, miserable and even in some unfortunate cases dangerous.  For many people in fact, even if they are not living in wretched poverty or a violent rundown area or city, life can be a stream of negative experiences punctuated by one kind of unpleasant reality after another in seeming regular succession; life is hard, we can’t get on, we don’t know how to get on, we can’t find a job, we have no money, we can’t do anything without money and so life is hard; it can be a vicious circle if we let it be just that.

So what’s the answer?  The answer is surprisingly to first of all count our blessings and be grateful for what good things we already have in life, whatever that might be; a roof over our heads, good family and friends, enough money to provide for our general well-being and so on.  Secondly, if you really do have a dream or ambition that you want to achieve then first of all a prayer or two might not go amiss; but I stress you should be honest about what you want out of life and be certain it’s what you really want, what you really really want!  I have found to my bitter experience that if you merely want something because someone else has it or wants it, you might regret wasting time on something that you didn’t really want in the first place; so a degree of honesty is vital here.  Thirdly, I think you must be realistic; if you have no connections, no wealth behind you, no particular expertise in the field you are trying to make it in, the chances are it will be a lengthy struggle to achieve your aim and ambition; it’s as simple as that.  Fourthly, make time for whatever it is you want to achieve; a writer who doesn’t write will hardly succeed, a sportsperson who doesn’t train will not likely achieve anything, a person who doesn’t put in the time is almost certainly not going to accomplish their dreams.  This is just food for thought and stuff that I have thought about and written about before.  There’s no reason why a person from a council estate or poor upbringing can’t succeed any more than a person from an affluent background, if they put their mind to it.  And us Christians?  Well we can pray about matters too, usually a matter people leave till last, but my belief is that God can nurture our dreams and bring them to fruition.  He is the shaper of our goals and dreams in my belief.  And of course, get all the help and advice you can, read up as much as you can on the field you are hoping to achieve in; there’s nothing like timely advice from someone who knows.  Lastly, I repeat if you are Christian, then merely have faith; a better life is for you if you really want it.


  1. Evenin TC.

    I'd start by saying this - there is nothing Christian about selling oneself short, nor is there anything righteous about having no money.

    Greatness is entrely removed from wealth if one analyses it deeply. Are pop divas with their studio-churned jingles 'great' people? What about porn stars? Achievement and originality are the key aspects here, of which some attract wealth and others don't.

    The problem with our education system is it puts too much emphasis on the memory of an individual and too little on how memorable that individual is.

    As for elitism, that is entirely the product of a society where some contrived 'greater good' exists. Whenever you drill down, this greater good turns out to be the self-interest of someone who has the means to make your self-interest less important than theirs.

    It's worth repeating that there is NOTHING wrong with self-interest and pursuing your goals, provided they don't involve harming or exploting others - they're the sort of thing that tend to annoy the man upstairs.

    ATB and God Bless


    1. Wow; where do I start on such a wonderful comment! Yes, we all know about elitism don't we?!

      I think life is a balance, and being, or trying to be, righteous is also a balance. We all need to eat, we have to get on in someway, and yet God demands we don't rip people off or exploiut others ruthlessly and so on. Thanks for the comment.

    2. Thanks for the considered reply.

      You're absolutely right in the sense that life is a balance of all the different demands that are put on an individual. Being obsessed with money and material things to the point where your bank account is loaded but your soul is bankrupt is of course unhealthy and ultimately leaves people lost and unfulfilled.

      The trouble with constantly wanting more is that nothing is ever enough!!

      Conversely, a man who sees poverty as something righteous in itself is nothing but a fool.

      Does God hate rich people and love poor people per se? My understanding was that it's not your wealth or lack of, but what you do with them, and what they do to you.

      I think that was my point...


    3. And you're point is eloquently made Daz. I also feel God doesn't necessarily side with the poor against the rich, but if He does side with people, it is those who try to be righteous and those who treat others with consideration and respect.

  2. Hi Tim,
    Just read your post and just want to encourage you along the way you are heading. Yes, there is a danger about too much negative thinking, like the very things Job feared coming upon him. Someone once said that fear stands for 'false evidece appearing real, and it can cause a lack of faith. I think one of our greatest enemies can be our own reasoning which can bring negative fears of what might be, and which can cancel out the FACT that all things are possible with God and that He gives us our heart's desire. I was brought up in a council house, my dad died when I was eleven, making it very hard for my mother to provide for us, but she coped. One thing that stayed in my mind that my father said was, in order to settle arguements 'Let's see what the Lord says', and this has always been with me in the thirty years that I have been a christian. It doesn't matter what your mind tells you. My thirty years are full of God's ability to give us our heart's desire in ways which winning the lottery could never do. I have not only learned to be content with little or much, but also been given things that I desired in ways that have shown me only the Lord could have brought it about. Keep putting Him first. Who knows maybe 'Life begins at 40-ish is prophetic' eh? God bless you with your heart's desire.

  3. Another great comment, really a post in itself Brenda!

    Yes, I agree entirely, negative thinking is not good, certainly constant thinking that is negative can't be good for an individual; their health and their well-being even.

    I'm sorry about your hardships in life; that sounds very hard to deal with.

    We have so much to teach and tell each other, that's why I love these blogs so much; we all have so much to learn from each other.

    'Keep putting Him first': I couldn't have put it better myself!

  4. Dear T-Childs,
    I did submit a comment to this article at the weekend, but I believe the website itself had failed to post it, perhaps some bug or hitch.
    But just to recap, you were spot when you stated that the benefit of making time for what you really want to achieve.
    Writing is something I enjoy doing, but for many years I recoiled from submitting any manuscripts to the publisher because of the high rate of rejections. In fact, back in the 90s, I did submit something to a publisher, and sure enough, it was rejected. I did not try that any more. At least I was not alone. Catherene Cookson, my Mum's favourite novelist, had her work rejected many times at first, yet she is one of the best fiction authors today.
    But now I thank God for the Internet. Here I can write short articles meant to build up the faith in others and at the same time glorify God. I firmly believe that the Internet was a Godsend to give people like us a chance to have our idea and thoughts read by others.
    But unfortunately, there are a number of Christians who knows me personally who would not read my blogs. After all, what does a window cleaner have to offer anyway?
    A great post.
    God bless,

  5. For some curious reason Frank, I sort of remember seeing another comment on here and wonder where it's gone; or am I imagining it?

    I have had shedloads of rejection slips but nothing will stop me just writing. Yes, the Internet is wonderful and it means we can keep writing whether we get published or not; that is a great thing in itself. The 'writers and artists yearbook' has lots of addresses of publishers in it; I've got an old copy from way back anyway.

    You have so much to offer Frank; amongst the best blog posts I've read quite honestly; keep writing!

  6. Hi Tim,
    Just checked your blog and noticed Frank's comment. Two things came into my mind as I read. Jesus was rejected by His own because He was a carpenter, and we are told that persecution can come from within our own houshold. Sometimes that can be our 'spiritual household'. We can take comfort as Christians from Jesus saying 'If they did it to me, they will do it to you.' I too believe that the Internet is a wonderful way of sharing what you believe without the usual 'editing' taking place by those who might have a different view, that is what 'comments' are for and why blogs are a wonderful way of sharing what you write. That way we can be built up by one another and share our views.
    God bless both

  7. Yes Jesus was rejected by His very own people, some of them anyway. He was certainly rejected by the 'powers-that-be' and the religious authorities of the day.

    Yes absolutely Brenda; one of the things I love about blogs is that we don't need to edit, we don't need to modify, and we can be as honest and as frank as we like; that's a kind of freedom in itself. And as you say, we can build up each other and encourage each other all the time and preach the Gospel even online; that is a blessing!

    Thanks for the comment; it's always appreciated.