Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dream Bigger!

You can do it all, have it all, and be it all!  At least if you believe all the hype bombarding women in today’s culture.  Women have more opportunities today than ever before.  Women fought for the right to vote, equal opportunities in sports, and equal employment opportunities. We can now have a lucrative career, a well-adjusted family, fashions from around the world, relaxing vacations, and the latest and greatest technology toys.  We’re grateful for the progress women have made over the years – so much so that we often forget the struggle and take our opportunities for granted – but trying to have it all is a lot of pressure!

With opportunities come challenges.

What we can have isn’t necessarily what we should have.  Who we can be isn’t necessarily who we should be.  What we want isn’t necessarily what we should want. We’re in a constant struggle with who the world says we should be and who God created us to be - between what the world says we deserve and what God desires for us.

With a few tips and tools, you can meet the challenges that come your way today.  As you learn to meet challenges on a daily basis, you’ll begin to develop habits for long-term healthy decisions – decisions that will help you become the woman God intends you to be, which is way more important than the woman the world has said you can be.

You can be powerful.  Whether you call it power, influence or leadership, we’re basically talking about the impact we have on other people’s lives.  And we all have it! Some of us embrace it more fully than others; some of us are proud and even brag it.  If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that someone watches what we’re doing to get our approval, asks for our opinion or follows our advice.  Leadership influences people and impacts lives. Leadership has power.

The world says the more power you have, the better.  I agree…but not exactly in the same way the world promotes.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Cor. 2:4-5, NIV).

Ask yourself: Where do I have power in my life?  Once you identify areas of leadership and influence, rank yourself in each role on a scale from 1 to 10 with 1 indicating the roles in which the power is “all about me” and 10 indicating roles in which the power is “all about God.”

The power you have because of your work position, family, or elected position can easily become about you, and it’s fleeting.  You might have worked really hard to acquire it or it might have come easily to you. Either way, it’s fleeting.  You can be stripped of it in an instant.  But when you rid yourself of self, and you access God’s power, you’ll have the influence God intends you to have, and He’ll maximize the impact you’ll have on people’s lives.  It’s not about today.  It’s about eternity.

You can balance it all.  Women are stereotypically good at multi-tasking, so we can juggle a dozen things at once, balancing everything with grace, organization, and excellence. Really?  Then I must be an epic failure at being a woman.  I like organization and multi-tasking, but I certainly can’t balance everything the world throws at me.

First, realize we can’t do it all.  There aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week. We must prioritize and make choices.  Even when you’re not prioritizing, feeling spontaneous and uninhibited, you’re making choices to live that way!

Second, you can’t do many things at once and do them well.  You can certainly do several things at once, but your effectiveness will suffer as you multiply your to-do list.

The struggle is knowing what’s supposed to be on your list and what isn’t.

The purpose of this command is for people to have love, a love that comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a true faith (1 Tim. 1:5, NCV).

This verse isn’t specifically about finding the purpose of your life, but it provides a few guidelines to help you determine what should be on your to-do list and what shouldn’t (or at least what can fall way down the prioritized list).

So take a look at your to-do list and ask yourself:
Am I doing this out of a pure heart? (as opposed to selfish ambitions, desires, or guilt)
Can I do this in good conscience? (without excuses and rationalizations)
Am I being faithful? (in this moment and in my relationship with God)

It’s going to take some practice to relearn how to make your daily and weekly to-do lists, but one step at a time, you’ll develop new, better habits.

You can be who you want to be.  My dad was great at dreaming up possibilities for me. He could imagine just about any role, career, or adventure.  The reality is I couldn’t do all the things he said I could, but he taught me to dream.

We’ve been taught that if we imagine it, we can become it.  Not so.  I imagined many dreams as a child that, while I won’t say were impossible, they certainly weren’t practical, and I’m glad I didn’t chase every single one.  If I had, I doubt I would have ever fully accomplished a single one, because I’d always be chasing another dream!  Imagining something doesn’t make it reality.  But if we never imagine it, it won’t happen either!

We put the brakes on what God can accomplish through us, and we pursue things God didn’t include in His plans for us.  Sure, He’ll work through all the choices we make, but it doesn’t mean there wasn’t a better way…His way.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11, NIV).

This is perhaps one of the most misconstrued verses in Scripture.  We rationalize that God has only great, positive, warm and fuzzy things planned for us.  Take another look at the same verse in context.

This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you” (Jer. 29:10-13, NIV).

1.     The plans to “prosper us” follow a time of distance.  Guess what?  We’re not the first ones that have chosen something that distances us from God!
2.     Despite the time of distance, God listens to us as we call on Him.  I’m so thankful we can always restore our relationship with God.

What does this tell you about God’s purpose and plan for you?
What do you need to change in your life – today – in order to be the person God wants you to be?

You can be the person you want to be…as long as your “want to be” is the woman God created you to be.  When you untangle your worldly desires from the desires of God’s heart, you’ll be and have it all…right in the center of God’s will.

So take a hard look at who you’re listening to.  As accommodating as the world around you is in assuring you the world is yours for the taking, it’s essential you’re honest with the inundating pressures surrounding you.  The sooner you face the reality of what tangled messes you might have in your life, the sooner you can accept the dreams God created you to have and live out!


Susan Lawrence
Contributing Author

4 comments:

  1. Wow, this article is an answer to prayer. I've been feeling overwhelmed with commitments and increasingly distanced from God. I now have an idea of where to look at making changes in my life. Thank you, thank you.

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  2. Thanks for permission and reasoning to say "no."

    It's fun to read your post here!

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  3. The tangled messes in my life are a direct result of my own choices.....not God's. This is a great reminder to stay focused on God's purpose and plan for my life.........thank you !

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  4. Something my mom always tells me, "No is a complete sentence." Thank you for addressing something I think we women don't do enough of. We let guilt rule us and over commit to too much. Great article!!

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

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