If we attempt to bring a dream to fruition, there is a process we must go through to make that happen.
- First we Dream: we see a goal so lofty, so amazing, so incredible, so wonderful, that we must have it, we must get there.
- Then we Plan, we figure out steps to get from where we are now to that place we have seen in our dreams.
- Then we Implement, we put into action the first of our steps that we outlined in planning.
- Unfortunately things do not always go as planned, and that is why it is important that after a while we Evaluate to check if…
- We are still on course
- It is working
- We’re making any progress
- We’re going about it in the right way
- We’re with the right people
- It is the right time.
- Then, we reaffirm our dream and destiny and Adjust where needed and then Repeat the Dream Cycle!
The difficulty in the Evaluate stage lies in the fact that early on to get going we had to set short-term goals and not all (if any) of them worked out. At this point, if you are normal, you are struggling with with a host of emotions: disappointment, frustration, anger, despair, depression, confusion, even wanting to giving up. But those short-term goals were never the point, they were just stops along the way to the final goal. And God has more ways to get from A to Z than you or I could imagine.
But even if God has another way, how do we manage our hearts when pursuing our dreams, things don’t turn out right? What do we do? How do we keep our heart vulnerable to God and our dreams while continuing to press forward?
The key to remember in all of this is that I cannot control anything in this world, except what lies beneath my skin (and not even that sometimes). I’m responsible for me. Whenever I make my happiness and wellness dependent on something outside of me to go a certain way, I am setting myself up for serious disappointment. That’s why God’s destiny for us is not some activity or destination that may or may not happen, but rather us walking in the fullness of our identity in Him.
If that is all there is, then why do anything? Why try to change anything? Why do anything? Why not sit like a rock and let the waves of life pass around you. Because God can work all things together for good! (Romans 8:28) He may not have intended the way things turned out, but He can work with it…if we’ll surrender the results to Him and ask Him for insight for change.
That’s where Evaluate and Adjust steps come in come in. Sometimes this can be scary, because these failures can seem to be an indictment of us and of our identity. If you fail, then you are a failure, at your core. But that is just the enemy, the accuser talking. He, along with the world, says what you do makes you who you are. You lie, then you are a liar. You commit adultery, you are an adulterer. You kill, then you are a murderer. While God says, I’ll tell you who you are and then you automatically do that! Just take a look at Paul and Moses, both who initially attempted to fulfill the call on their life by killing people! (, Paul God though wasn’t done with them and called them back into their destiny by affirming the call on their lives. (Moses – Exodus 2-3, Paul – Acts 9)
Failure can cause us to believe lies about ourselves, tempting us to hide from problems, rather than confront them, because we’re afraid that we are irreparably broken, that we are the problem and that there is no hope. But nothing could be farther from the truth. We must confront problems to discover that they are not us. That’s why we confess our sins to each other so that we can discover we are not what we did (James 5:16), but rather dearly loved children of our heavenly Father who carry His nature of righteousness, holiness and purity. (2 Peter 1:4).
So in each situation, we must make the discovery of our identity and our growth in living it out our goal. Our life and identity are hidden in God. (Colossians 3:3) He designed you and formed you with a purpose and that is as much a part of you as your DNA. He knew you in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13), but even though your identity is fixed there is a process where by we discover it and “flesh it out,” if you will. As a sort of analogy, our daughter was born with muscles, but only by using them can she discover that she has them and what they are good for, and so we too must discover our identity by listening to God and then trying to walk it out!
And like our daughter’s muscles at first your identity will be flabby and undefined, not looking much like what you saw in the heart of God. But if you will let God empower you to act like who you are in the face of contrary circumstances, you will discover an ever stronger and more defined identity. Until at some point it will be as obvious to those around you who you are as it is to you!
We can’t tell you the number of people who have come to us with a vision of their identity and mission, so excited, telling us how incredible they now know they are and how they are going to change the world. But when the first contrary thing happens, revealing their identity to look very little like what they saw, they run away, believing it all to be a lie.
Remember how we said there are short-term goals on the way to the ultimate goals and vision for our life. If our destiny is actually our identity, then us walking in the fullness of that identity is the final goal. So what then are the short-term goals? Us, step by step, increasingly looking like ourselves.
So as we are evaluating and adjusting, what are we first looking for? The one thing that we can control – us, so let’s ask questions like…
- In this situation, did I grow in the knowledge of who I am?
- Did I begin to manifest it more than before?
- Did it become more visible to others?
Any of these is victory. Notice we didn’t say “walking in the fullness of your identity.” That’s the end goal. Any progress in the right direction is victory right now! If the main goal in each situation is growth in our identity and consistently walking it out, no matter what happens, we can find a way to stay encouraged and on track.
But what if I do something that is absolutely contrary to my identity in Christ, like Paul or Moses killing someone? How can I be encouraged in that? The minute I come to my senses and recognize that I am NOT acting like myself, that is the moment of victory! Because I cannot realize even that in and of myself. Most people go through life thinking all these things they are doing are who they are, and you just had a revelation that they are NOT who you are! Victory Dance! See, the moment the prodigal son while still in the pig pen of his own sin, comes to his sense (Luke 15:17), that is the first moment of victory! Simply recognizing what’s not your identity is already a step on the road to your destiny.
But wait, what about actually doing something. It’s not enough to just sit around and “be”, is it? If you confidently know who you are, you will not be a lump on a log, but rather you will manifest that identity no matter where you are. Every time Jesus and the disciples encountered a storm on the Sea of Galilee the outcome was the same. The disciples, professional fisherman were terrified while Jesus a carpenter from landlocked Nazareth is completely at peace. One time He stills the storm with a word. Another time He simply walks on the waves. You see when you know who you are you will manifest it in every situation no matter how adverse the circumstances and how “unprepared” you feel.
Here is another example for life. If you find children of wealthy people going broke, invariably, they stay broke. But if a person who grew his or her wealth from nothing goes bankrupt invariably they grow it again. Why? Because they know that the ability to grow wealth is not in their circumstances, but it resides in you, no matter how contrary the winds blow.
If you know who you are and whose you are, then every circumstance is an opportunity for growth and the storm that terrifies the professional sailor will actually drive your boat before it, accelerating you into your destiny!
If your goal in each circumstance is first and foremost growth in your identity, then regardless of the choices of others you will find yourself ever nearer to your goal.
But what about the people I’m depending on for my destiny? Jesus was continually giving people opportunities to follow or reject Him. He did not manipulate or try to get them to choose Him. Sure His heart broke for the lost sheep who refused their shepherd (Luke 19:41-44), but their choices didn’t stop Him from moving forward in His calling.
So let us stay encouraged! As we continue to navigate this process of the Dream Cycle, let’s take courage from our identity so we can face problems and adjust our course and dream again!