“Fear will tell you that you’re in this season forever.” – Jon Acuff, The 2012 Quitter Conference
Sometimes I feel guilt for not having fully executed on my dream. Clearly there are times when it seems that life itself is getting in the way. Is that an excuse?
Last month I attended Jon Acuff’s Quitter Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. Jon offered extremely honest advice and lessons he learned along the way as he has navigated the development of his insightful writing and speaking career.
Jon shared generously from his personal experiences setting the tone of integrity with his very sincere candor. His selection of speakers was excellent, for they also carried out this tone of openness. Jon Acuff is very approachable and conveys a genuine interest to see us all succeed in what we feel called to do.
Though he spent considerable time motivating and inspiring us to discover and define our dreams, Jon also provided a concrete framework for how to imagine, capture and execute on these dreams. What sets him apart from other authors and speakers is that he didn’t end it there. Sure, that would have been good enough. However, Jon is not “on the road to average” but truly “on the road to AWESOME,” as he defines Quitters to be.
Jon offers a holistic and realistic perspective. He recognizes that one size does not fit all when it comes to achieving our dreams and he recommends we don’t get stuck on a timeline. “One of the greatest things you can give your dream is the gift of patience.”
To pursue a dream with an all or nothing attitude can lead to a destructive outcome. The reality is that we cannot be deliberate in the pursuit of our dreams if we are not also deliberate in attending to the rest of what is in our life—the priorities and relationships that matter to us.
Jon asks us to extend grace to ourselves when our current season isn’t the right time to fully execute on our dreams. He used the example of a parent with small children who finds it difficult to make time to work on her dream, and wistfully reflects, “But I want to make an impact in this world.”
As a single mom, I often find myself so exhausted from parenting and a demanding day job that it can feel overwhelming trying to make time for my dream. That’s when guilt shows up to remind me, “But I want to make an impact in this world.” Meanwhile, raising a self-confidant, purpose driven, loving teen with integrity, is making an impact in this world.
Sometimes we get tunnel vision and cannot see that we are making a difference where we are presently planted.
Could it be that feeling guilt is a reflection of my own pride? If this dream is truly God-breathed, then it will have its time, even if it’s later than I’d prefer. Guilt can also undermine my clarity and prevent me from seeing these distractions as my practice field—Preparing me for what will come. If I cannot do God’s work in the immediate, how can I bring integrity and honor to a fulfilled dream in the future?
I spoke recently to my dear friend who decided to pursue her dream of attending law school, now that her children are grown. As she was about to set her dream into motion, life threw her a curve ball. Her son, now in the middle of a custody battle to protect his children from their drug-addicted mother, has together with his kids moved back home. My friend now finds herself raising children all over again. Devastating and a huge interruption to her plans, this can appear to be a major distraction from her dream.
Sometimes God overrides our plans when He matches us to a task more significant than our own. What seems like an interruption may well be God’s intended purpose for us in this season. As long as it’s not due to our own lack of discipline, be reassured that God knocks on our hearts to be an instrument for His healing and love, to those in our practice field.
This heartfelt desire to be present in the life of another, is the heartbeat of making a difference in this world. This heartbeat must always be the undercurrent of our dreams. And as Jon Acuff reminds us, “the dream is never about you.”
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