How do you measure success? For many, it is a nice house, functional car(s), and a well-stocked refrigerator and pantry. Just to have these things makes us richer than the majority of people in the world. Of course, we don’t stop there. We would like our share of electronics, opportunities to eat out on a regular basis, a few “toys” (name your favorite), and a variety of entertainment options. If we are a bit more introspective, we will share our desire for personal health, good family or friend relationships, a challenging vocation, and a growing relationship with God.
If I asked you to prepare a list of things that make one successful, you would pretty quickly come up some of the things I have already noted. In doing this exercise, we describe our preferred reality, the type of life we work to create despite economic downturns, sickness, catastrophes, and relocations. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but this perception of reality can become a box that limits us from becoming what we might as followers of Christ.
In Growing an Engaged Church, one of the questions that Albert Winseman suggests that spiritual leaders should ask congregants is, “If money and time were no object, what would you do for God?” I have used this question in a number of different settings with various audiences over the years. If the audience is made up of well-established median adults, I often pick up puzzled reactions and cynical remarks like, “Well, it’s a little late for that!” But I have also seen skeptical looks on the faces of young adults when I have asked this question of them. They have already picked their “box” (or had it picked for them by parents or respected leaders) and are busy reinforcing it. One group that is often energized by the question are older adults who are about to retire or have already retired, but perhaps it is because they have built up some resources and have the flexibility to try something new!
No matter what the age of the person being questioned, each believer needs to ask himself or herself this question from time to time as a reality check—where am I, how did I get here, and is this where I really want to be? This provides us the chance to reflect on whether the life we are living is the one that best honors God and uses our gifts for God’s service.
One of most memorable statements by Martin Luther King, Jr., was “I have a dream.” King’s dream was a reality check for people in the 1960’s who still struggled with the place of African-Americans in society. The dream was not based on financial or temporal resources but a preferred future for all Americans—no matter their race or status in society. We continue to be challenged by that dream.
Have you lost your dream of following God’s calling? I encourage you to recover it.