Steps to seeing your dreams become reality

Leaders are dreamers and always thinking about the future. Having a God-given dream or vision is one thing. Seeing it happen is quite another. Here are some practice steps from the venerable Ron Edmondson on making dreams happen:

Originally posted by Ron Edmondson

I love and encourage dreaming.

I think dreaming is healthy for our emotional well-being. It’s a process that helps us accomplish great things personally and for God.

We are told we serve a big, creative God, whose thoughts will always be bigger and better than ours. We are to walk by faith. We are to trust God into the unknown. Dreaming should be natural to believers. Dreaming stretches the vision of churches and organizations, it fuels creativity, and many great opportunities develop first as a dream.

The reality is –‘however — that more people have dreams than attain them.

Perhaps you have dreams you have yet to accomplish. I certainly do. One reason dreams never come true is that we don’t have a system in place to work towards them. I love to be an encourager for people with great dreams, so with that in mind, here are some steps to help you move towards reaching your dreams:

Identify your dream

This is where you list specifically what the dream would look like. Obviously it needs to be attainable. If your dream is to create a new moon you may be disappointed, but don’t be afraid for it to be a stretch either. For example, suppose your dream is to be to be an author. That’s a dream you can accomplish, but it may not be realistic to write the next Purpose Driven Life.

Make an action plan

Write down specific action steps you can take towards attaining your goal. (The writing down part is important.) Sticking with the the idea of being an author, perhaps you could start with a blog for which you write post regularly to build the discipline of writing. Then move to outlining chapters. Then you might set aside a few hours a week to actually write the book. Record realistic dates to begin/complete each step.

Develop accountability

Most of us work harder when we know someone is going to challenge us to do so. Consider the success of programs like Weight Watchers. Accountability works, so share your plan of action with a few people who will continue to challenge you to completion.

Share the load

Even though it is your dream, the best ideas are accomplished when people work together towards a common vision. Don’t be afraid to invite others to help you accomplish your dream as needed.

Take a risk

If you really want to succeed, you must be willing to risk failure. Every great dream has an element of risk involved and the ones who achieve their dreams are the ones wiling to assume the risk.

Stay consistent

If you want to achieve your dreams, you will have to keep at the task, even during the set backs. Push yourself to complete scheduled action steps even on days you may not want to do anything. These is how habits are developed. Many give up too soon, often just before the tipping point towards success occurs. Unless you know it’s time to try another dream, stay consistent with the one in front of you.

Get started

The longer you wait, the more you delay achievement and the less likely you are to begin. If you know the dream is worth achieving, if you are confidant it’s a God-honoring, morally right, and worthy dream, then start today!

What is one dream you have yet to attain? Why not take one meaningful step to get started today?


The Leader's Vision

Shortly after the completion of Disney World, someone said to Mike Vance, the Director of Disney Studios, "Isn’t it too bad that Walt Disney didn't live to see this!" To which the director replied, "He did see it--that's why it's here.” That’s vision in its purest sense!

George Barna writes of pastors that, “only 2% could articulate the vision for their churches.” Is it any wonder that the Christian church in the United States is in decline today? Aubrey Malphurs, from Dallas Seminary, observes that “currently 80-85% of American churches are either plateaued or dying with no revival in sight.” Could vision be the missing ingredient? I think it is. As someone jokingly misquoted Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people look for another parish.” Due to visionless ministry and churches, people are looking around. What will they find if they show up on your church’s doorstep?

 A vision is a clear, challenging picture of the future of ministry as it can and must be. Can be because God has given it, and must be because he has laid the dream and the burden on the heart of a leader. I believe that people today are looking for a cause, a mountain to climb and a leader to follow into new and exciting territory. The key in motivating people to a cause is having a vision that is strong and compelling. There are many churches and organizations that have vision on paper but no vision in practice. Leaders with a vision possess a picture of what they see as they peer into the future. They carry, as it were, a visual snapshot in their mental wallets.

A little girl was sailing with her father from Long Beach (California) to Catalina Island. It was an unusually clear day and, in her excitement, she exclaimed, “Daddy, I can look further than I can see!” Leaders with vision look beyond what is apparent to human eyes. They often see further than others see and before others see. Some leaders are more managers than visionaries. But even if you are not a dreamer and visionary by nature and gifting, you can develop skill in crafting a vision and leading people into the future. Retired baseball manager Sparky Anderson said, “I’ve got my faults, but living in the past isn’t one of them. There ain’t no future in it!” Vision is about the future.

There is a step-by-step process in having a “vision-based and vision-oriented” ministry.

1)     Developing the vision

2)     Communicating the vision

3)     Implementing the vision

4)     Maintaining the vision

There were once two men, both seriously ill, in the same small room of a great hospital. Quite a small room, it had one window looking out on the world.  One of the men, as part of his treatment, was allowed to sit up in bed for an hour in the afternoon (something to do with draining the fluid from his lungs). His bed was next to the window. But the other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

Every afternoon when the man next to the window was propped up for his hour, he would pass the time by describing what he could see outside.  The window apparently overlooked a park where there was a lake. There were ducks and swans in the lake, and children came to throw them bread and sail model boats. Young lovers walked hand in hand beneath the trees. Behind the fringe of trees was a fine view of the city skyline. The man on his back would listen to the other man describe all of this, enjoying every minute.  He heard how a child nearly fell into the lake, and how beautiful the girls were in their summer dresses. His roommate’s descriptions eventually made him feel he could almost see what was happening outside. Then one fine afternoon, the thought struck him. Why should the man next to the window have all the pleasure of seeing what was going on? Why shouldn't he get the chance? He felt ashamed, but the more he tried not to think like that, the worse he wanted a change. He'd do anything!

One night as he stared at the ceiling, the other man suddenly woke up, coughing and choking, his hands groping for the button that would bring the nurse running. But the man watched without moving--even when the sound of breathing stopped. In the morning, the nurse found the other man dead and quietly took his body away. As soon as it seemed decent, the man asked if he could be switched to the bed next to the window.  So they moved him, tucked him in and made him quite comfortable. The minute they left, he propped himself up on one elbow, painfully and laboriously, and looked out the window. It faced a blank wall!




What does it take to attract younger leaders?

Every pastor and leader understands that for the church to continue on in health and growth, younger leaders need to be identified, recruited and developed to accept responsibility and lead. Here is Brad Lomenick with 12 keys to attracting younger leaders.

Originally posted by Brad Lomenick

Let’s face it- young leaders are the future of your organization. Whether you like it or not, they will soon take over and be running the show. Your show. My show. If you aren’t attracting young talent, then the days are numbered for your influence and the legacy of your organization.

So why are there certain organizations and certain leaders who always seem to attract younger leaders to their team? Whether a pastor, entrepreneur, CEO or non-profit Executive Director, there are certain leaders, certain teams and certain organizations that EVERY young and ambitious leader wants to be a part of.

What is it about THIS leader and the organization they lead that attracts young leaders? Such a draw that young guns are willing to jump on board with them and storm the castle. Regardless of pay, structure, environment, city, setting, or future opportunities, young leaders want to be around these types of leaders and be a part of what they are doing.

You want young leaders on your team? Here are a few KEYS I think young leaders are drawn to:

1. Humility, combined with incredible passion and skill. Realizing it’s not about you. Jim Collins writes about this as the key characteristic of a level 5 leader.

2. Unwavering commitment to reaching their desired audience and accomplishing the mission. Know the hill they are climbing and willing to fight to get to the top.

3. The IT factor- hard to explain, but easy to spot. Young leaders can sense it and want to be tied to leaders with IT.

4. Collaboration and not competition. A leader who celebrates others’ victories along with their own.

5. Willing to give over responsibility and authority, vs. a “wait your turn” mentality. This kind of perspective and organizational culture will allow young leaders to lead – given they are qualified and can handle it.

6. Authenticity. They keep it real. Young leaders clamor towards authentic and honest leaders.

7. Open to change. This is a big deal. If you as a leader are not open to change, no one worth their salt will probably be willing to follow you, especially younger leaders. (thanks to Shinabarger on this one)

8. Can have at least a little fun. Like attracts like. It’s a reality= regardless of age, demographic, and style. The next generation wants a family environment that is fun and experiential.

9. Confident risk taking. Passionately create a culture that takes risks, allows for failure, and thinks outside the box.

10. BIG vision. Young leaders want to change the world, and want to follow leaders who think BIG and dream big.

11. Hustle and Hungry. The next generation expects you to be beside them in the trenches, not in the corner office sipping on Spritzers. Hustle and hungry, not arrogant and entitled. Besides your team, not out in front of them.

12. BEST at what they do. Regardless of industry or profession or organization, young leaders want to be part of a culture and organization built on excellence with a desire to be great. This is why Google and Facebook and Apple have hundreds of thousands of college graduates clamoring for a chance to be on the team.

What else would you add to the list of those leaders who are drawing young leaders to be part of their teams?



Simplicity. When less is more!

The word keeps popping up! It comes up in conversations I’ve been having, I see it addressed in movies and in books. It’s something people desire but have given up hope of experiencing. Maybe it’s wishful thinking--as old fashioned and antiquated as Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch. But I long for it--long to live a simple, uncomplicated and focused life.

A life that is not moving too fast, trying to do too much. A life that is not allowing the Tyranny of the Urgent to take over and run me ragged physically and emotionally.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about living simply--keeping my life and ministry simple. Recently, the concept of simplicity has quietly and forcefully surfaced in my Bible reading. Here are a few examples from “The Message” by Eugene Peterson.

 “…if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” Luke 14:11

 “…I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple:…I Corinthians 2:1,2

 “…so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple… I Corinthians 7:20

 “…be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation.” I Timothy 2:2

 “A devout life does bring wealth, but it’s the rich simplicity of being yourself before God.”

   I Timothy 6:6

 “…so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.II Timothy 4:2

When I think of simply being myself, of operating simply in life and ministry, I’m not thinking of being semi-retired, or of joining Henry David Thoreau on Walden.

My mind runs more toward focusing on a few things in ministry and in life and practicing the advice of Steven Covey: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” It has to do with priorities and concentration.

Leaders I work with, and others I mentor, struggle to consistently keep things simple--to clearly know what they are about, what they are called and gifted to do. They seem to bounce from one thing to the next, filling their schedules with lots of activities, being more reactive than proactive.

Author Fred Smith says that busyness is the new spirituality. Many leaders are not content with who they are, where they are and what they are doing.

They long to be someone else, be somewhere else and do something else. Whatever happened to simple contentment? Life seems to hurl a lot at us. Go there, do this, buy that, help with this, commit to that. I find it so easy to be distracted from the simplicity of who I am and what I’m about.

I’m often tempted to cave in to the expectations and demands of others--especially those whose opinions matter deeply to me.  At times it’s difficult to hear the voice of God in the midst of all the noise of life.

Here are a few things I’m doing to simplify my life and ministry:

1.  Turning down opportunities that might be a good use of who I am but not the best use of who I am. Just last week I said no to two people who offered me a great chance to do something.

2.  Never saying yes to anything over the phone, but buying time to think and pray about it.

 3.  Practicing the theology of enough. I have no list of things that fall into the category of: I would be happy if______.

4.  Asking God to deliver me from an unhealthy appetite for acclaim, approval, position, power and honor that would push me to do more and more for the wrong reasons.

5.  Praying to be released from the restless, gnawing greed for more money and more stuff.

6.  Daily reminding myself of who I am and who I am not and being content to be me.

7.  Carving out sufficient time alone with God for humble contemplation--to give Him opportunity to quiet my anxious heart and keep me focused on my “few themes.”

It’s not easy living “simply” in a culture that demands more, rewards competition and admires power and position. But, by God’s grace, I’m going to live in biblical simplicity. 

How are YOU doing?  Do you need to do some spring-cleaning in your life and ministry?  How about a retreat to think through some things and be reminded of who you are and the “few themes” He wants you to be about?









Attributes of successful change agents

What attributes do those who are successful change agents share in common?  You may be surprised.

Originally posted On August 26, 2014 by Dan Rockwell

Jobs are boring dead things that suck the life out of you, but a person with a mission has found a new lens for life.

The greater the thing you live for the richer life becomes.

Noble mission always answers one simple question. How can I serve?

The most beautiful people are on a mission to serve.


Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, one of the world’s top executive search consultants, has a mission not a job. I didn’t ask Claudio for his mission, but within the first three minutes of our conversation, he said,

I really believe the world would be a better place if the right people were at the top, and if we could become better at identifying our high potentials, and if we could become much better at motivating and developing them.

Claudio’s book “It’s Not the How or the What but the Who: Succeed by Surrounding Yourself with the Best,” lists four qualities of high potentials – people who consistently create value.

The top four:

#1. Curiosity – persistent learning. What are you learning? What are you reading? How do you process feedback?

Curiosity is probably the most important one of the four. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

#2. Insight – the ability to connect the dots. Can you determine what really matters and put together a vision that makes sense, one that others can follow? Can you keep your feet on the ground and see possibilities at the same time?

#3. Engagement – the ability to convince and persuade others about the vision. Can you touch minds and hearts? Are you influencing without authority?

You can have all the insight in the world but if you are not able to persuade others you are as good as dead. Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

#4. Determination – the ability to continue striving toward high and challenging objectives regardless of the circumstances.

What qualities do you look for in top talent?