When Steve Cauthen was nine, his job was helping his father on the farm. In between pitching hay, he liked jumping on the packed bales, pretending he was on a racehorse. Once, when his father said, “Stop daydreaming, boy, and put the bale in the truck.” Steve answered, “I will as soon as I win the Belmont Stakes.” And sure enough, the young man who was riding a bale of hay did go on to win, not just the Belmont Stakes, but the Triple Crown - at age eighteen. His dream at the age of nine propelled Steve Cauthen to become one of the most successful jockeys in the world. (1)
You gotta love it!
Vision is a Motivator! We began discussing Proverbs 29:18 yesterday. The verse tells us that where there is no vision or dream, we will perish. The word from which perish comes, para is rich with meaning. We saw the following three definitions yesterday: unbridled, unprotected, and unready for an opportunity. Let’s look now at a few more results of dreamlessness.
The fourth meaning of para is “to withdraw.” In Exodus 5:4, para is used in the context of withdrawing from or being unwilling to work. Dreams motivate us, whereas lacking a dream will cause us to be unmotivated.
It may come as a surprise to you that the greatest motivator in life is not need. If that were the case, the most motivated people would always be those in poverty. Sadly, this sometimes isn’t the case. Without a dream to work toward, some individuals living in poverty are unmotivated and unwilling to work.
Typically, the hardest worker in a company, at least in the start-up days, is the owner of the dream, not his or her employees. There is no greater motivator for hard work than a dream.
Wilma Rudolph was the twentieth of twenty-two children. She was born prematurely, and her survival was doubtful. When she was four, Wilma contracted double pneumonia, scarlet fever, and polio, which left her with a paralyzed left leg. But Wilma had a dream. At age nine, she removed the metal brace she had been dependent on and began walking without it. By thirteen, she had developed a rhythmic walk, which doctors said was a miracle.
It wasn’t. Miracles are sudden, supernatural events accomplished by God and God alone. That wasn’t His plan for Wilma. He wanted her to dream of walking without a brace and, through courage, tenacity, and hard work, chase her dream. How else could she model greatness for the rest of us?
But walking wasn’t enough for Wilma. That same year she decided to become a runner. I suppose if you’re going to dream, you may as well go for the gold! She entered a race and came in last. For the next few years, in every race Wilma entered, she came in last. Would the dream survive? Everyone told her to quit, but Wilma kept on running.
One day she broke her “sound barrier” - she actually won a race. And then another. From then on, she won every race she entered. Eventually, this little girl, who had been told she would never walk again, went on to win three Olympic gold medals. “My mother taught me very early to believe I could achieve any accomplishment I wanted to,” Wilma explained. “The first was to walk without braces.” (2)
Thank you, Wilma, and thank you, Mom, for demonstrating the power of a dream. Wilma took off a brace and strapped on a dream. Dreams heal.
The fifth thing that can occur when we’re without a dream came as somewhat of a surprise when I discovered it. Para is used elsewhere in Scripture to describe rejecting counsel (see Proverbs 1:25; 8:33; 13:18; 15:32). Interesting. Where there is no vision, people are unteachable.
Perhaps the opposite is easier to see. One who is pursuing a dream is constantly looking for new and fresh ideas to help them on their journey. They realize that “without consultation, plans are frustrated, but with many counselors, they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). Proverbs 29:18 tells us to “prepare plans by consultation.” The wise dreamer knows the importance of this and pursues wisdom, counsel, and creative new ideas.
A stubborn, arrogant, and very obstinate man I met years ago embodied the concept of being unteachable. He made lots of money and had a beautiful wife and three wonderful children, but he was one of the most selfish individuals I had ever known. Over the years, people had tried to address his attitudes and issues, only to be rejected and insulted.
Then one day, things began to unravel. His business was suffering, his kids were rebellious, and his wife had had enough of his cruel, selfish ways. She told him she was leaving.
This individual did something few men in his condition are willing to do: He took a long and honest look into his own heart. The only truthful conclusion was that his problems were self-inflicted. In a move that surprised everyone, he sought help. Over the next weeks and months, he ruthlessly dealt with his issues. Allowing the Lord - with the help of a wise, discerning counselor - to break his hard, prideful heart, he was able to truly change and eventually win back his wife and kids. Ultimately, his business also recovered, and once again, he became very prosperous. When asked what it was that finally opened his heart to receive instruction and produce a willingness to change, his response was profoundly simple: “That's easy. It was the dream of having my family back.”
Dreams soften the heart and open the mind.
The sixth and final definition of para relates especially to two or more people sharing a dream. Though corporate dreams are not our primary subject in this teaching, they are certainly worth mentioning. Leaders especially will find it interesting and helpful. Para means to let down or unbraid hair. To unbraid is to separate or unravel. Where there is no common vision, people disconnect. The commonality of cause and vision, however, brings people and their labors together. Whether the context is world evangelization, civil rights, saving babies, or saving whales, shared dreams motivate people to forget their differences, come together, and work for the cause.
When God created us with our dreaming nature, He knew how powerful a force it would be. He was also very aware of the crippling results of losing this precious gift. He stands ready to lead each of us into the purposes He created for us and to birth in us the vision sufficient to accomplish them. And as we shall see, He has already placed within us the gifts and abilities we will need to succeed.
Take our coonhound, Gracie Mae, for example…tomorrow she’ll teach us.
Pray with me:
Father, America has lost her vision, her dream of representing You on the earth, and things have come unraveled. Submitting to demonic lifestyles and activities has also caused our culture to fray and our strength to wane. In many ways, evil prevails in our nation. We are also “unbraided” in the sense that we have become divided, separated, and disunified.
The only hope for recovery is a true spiritual awakening. We have asked for this, and You have said You would give us one. Scripture confirms this, stating that You always want to save, not judge. You are dreaming of a great worldwide harvest, and Your dream for America is to play a significant role in it.
So we lay hold of this now by faith. You have told us that appealing to You still works. And we are more than confident that this is true. So we birth this dream of Yours through our intercession, partnering with You to save the world. Your Kingdom IS coming forth, Your will IS being done, and these things will NOT be stopped. Amen.
We decree that the tide is turning, the purposes of God are being accomplished, and our prayers are part of the solution. We will not waver.
Today’s post was taken from my book Dream.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
[Dutch Sheets Dream, Discovering God’s Purpose for Your Life (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2012), pp 47, 65-70.]
Denis Waitley and Reni L. Witt, The Joy of Working (New York: Ballantine Books, 1985), p 33.
Adapted from Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1995), pp 254-255.