As a child, I wanted to be so many different things. There was a season where I wanted to be a world-famous magician. I wasted hundreds of dollars at magic shops and I nearly drove all my friends away because I couldn’t help but show them the latest illusion I mastered.
Thankfully, that vision for my life only lasted a year or two.
Then there was a time I wanted to be a stuntman. I killed many brain cells rolling down large hills and jumping out of moving vehicles.
That dream lasted until my mom put an end to it.
I wanted to be a comedian. A rock star. A circus lion tamer.
Yes, those ambitions were childish. No, I don’t think God placed those dreams in my heart. But I do believe there was a thin line connecting each of those silly professions that spoke to the real dream God had for me. He had put certain drives and dispositions inside me that would ultimately lead to the plans He had for me.
So the obvious question is, “How do I know my dream for my life is from God?”
It’s an important question. If your dream isn’t from God, it isn’t worth pursuing. It would be a waste of time and energy. It would ultimately lead to frustration and discouragement.
It’s not always easy to disentangle our selfish ambitions from our God-given dreams and desires, but there are a few filters you can run your idea through to begin to figure out if it’s really from God:
1. It Will Ultimately Bring Glory to God.
God made everything for His glory. So a God-given dream will bring Him glory in the end.
That doesn’t mean your dream has to be labeled with the Christian fish or cluttered with crucifixes. But it also means your dream won’t reflect poorly on God.
For instance, a dream that skirts legal lines and flirts with something unethical isn’t from God. God will never ask you to do something contrary to His Word. But a dream that demonstrates hope, love, peace—God gets glory in that.
“For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen” (Romans 11:36).
2. It Will Benefit Others.
God’s heartbeat is people, and He’s more concerned with how we treat others than with material success.
Any dream that involves taking advantage of people or capitalizing on someone else’s misfortune isn’t from God. Stay away from any business endeavor or plan like that.
Instead, God will ask you to do something that meets people’s needs. That might mean writing a book that offers hope. It might mean creating a truly decaffeinated cup of coffee. It might mean becoming a foster parent.
Look for ways others can benefit from your dream, and you’re one step closer to reaching the dreams and plans God has for you.
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows” (Isaiah 1:17).
3. It Will Seem Bigger Than What You Can Handle On Your Own.
God doesn’t give little dreams. God loves doing significant things through seemingly insignificant people.
For some, an audacious dream would be to raise godly children. For others, it might be to love their spouse in a way they never saw their parents love. Still for another, it could be to write a book. To make a movie. To start an orphanage. God loves giving us big dreams so that when we see them come to pass, we know it was because of God’s hand and not our own.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).
Take a moment to evaluate the dream that’s in your heart right now. Does your dream fulfill these qualities? I’m willing to bet it does if you think about it. And I’m willing to bet that scares you a little bit. Doesn’t it? Knowing God has given you a dream increases your level of responsibility in the matter.
A dream from God is not trivial. It’s vital. It’s not childish. It’s powerful.
If God gave you a dream, you should pursue it. You should fight for it. Don’t ignore a dream God has given you. Your dream matters.