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Dying to Self Doesn’t Always Mean Dying to Dreams

There’s a myth out there that says the Christian life means setting aside ambition. Giving up dreams. But that’s lacking nuance — and missing the point.

Here’s where I have to check myself often on social media. I’ll stumble upon a woman whose sense of fashion or home décor style draws me in. I create mental notes about what it is that I like about her style and an updated shopping list runs in the back of my mind every time I enter Target or the mall. If I’m not careful, my wardrobe or home patterns after her particular taste rather than a mixture of all the eclectic styles I appreciate. I start conforming into her image, and I start dreaming the way she does. 

The same sort of thing is true of people we actually know in real life. As you grew up, you likely picked up the habits of your close friends—talking how they talked, listening to what they listened to, eating the same sort of foods they ate, and sometimes wanting the same dream job they did. You can’t help but become like a person you are constantly around. 

This is true with us and the Lord. 

As we spend time with Jesus, we pick up his habits and his ways of thinking. We start talking like he talks and acting like he acts. The Bible calls this becoming like him, or conforming to his image. And as we conform more into the image of Christ, so do our dreams conform to God’s will. We start dreaming about the things he desires. We long to see his name promoted, his glory shine, and his kingdom built up. This can happen in a million different ways in a million different industries.

Dying to ourselves doesn’t always eliminate our dreams, but it does reshape the way that we dream, how much we value it, and how we handle the outcome of the dream. We can and should still go before God with our ideas and excitements, but our greatest excitement should be for the ways God is working all of it for his own good purposes. Our dreams can be good, but they should not be driving the sole force behind our prayers.  

This reflection was adapted from A Holy Pursuit: How the Gospel Frees Us to Follow and Lay Down Our Dreams (B&H 2020, $17.99). 

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