When I was in seventh grade, I wrote in my journal that I wanted to be an attorney when I grew up, because “attorneys get to do my three favorite things: argue, be dramatic and be right.” In that same journal entry, I also sheepishly acknowledged that being an attorney probably wasn’t a reality for me.
I grew up in south Mississippi to parents who, at times, lived in poverty. Nonetheless, my mother taught us to carry ourselves with dignity and shoot for the stars. So I did, and throughout middle school, high school and college, I worked hard to pursue one little dream at a time. Little did I know I was practicing for having a life I never thought possible.
Dream Becomes Reality
One night at the beginning of my senior year of college, I was talking with my friend and mentor Beth Cunningham, and I told her I wasn’t sure what I was going to do after I graduated. That’s when she dropped a match in the fuel of old dreams and asked me the big question: “Why don’t you go to law school?”
At first I balked, but then I thought, Why don’t I?
Within five years, I got admitted to law school, graduated with honors, got a one-year clerkship with a state supreme court justice and then landed my dream job, where I’ve been for 10 years now. It’s all so easy to write in a sentence, but there’s no way to calculate the thousands of hours of work that went into making my seventh-grade dream a reality.
You’d Better Work it
I’m not sure what your dream is, but I know this much: If it’s a dream worth having, it’s going to involve a lot of hard work, because inspiration will only take you so far. As you prayerfully move forward, consider these timeless truths from Scripture and apply them to the pursuit of your dreams:
1. Keep a singular focus. Colossians 3:23 (ESV) says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men… .” Working towards your goal can be a healthy and spiritual exercise, as long as your aim is to please the Lord, not the flawed people around you.
2. Talk is cheap. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” If all you do is talk about your dream, it’s not going anywhere. Work. Work hard. And when you get done with that, work some more.
3. Pray and be thankful. You’re going to hit speed bumps and roadblocks. The Word says to “pray without ceasing, [and] give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). It doesn’t say you have to be thankful for those roadblocks, but a person who remains prayerful and thankful in them will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
4. On a related note, don’t complain or be contentious. Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world….” Be known as a peacemaker, not a drama king or queen, and it will be one of the most effective ways to shine the light of the Gospel to those who work alongside you.
5. Be willing to do grunt work. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, it says, “[A]spire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands … so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” Following your dreams does not mean indefinitely camping out in your parents’ basement while borrowing money to bankroll your fantasies. It means being willing to work hard now and find value in whatever work you do, even if it never materializes into a dream job.
The ultimate reward in this life is not a good job or a good salary or accolades — it is the Lord himself. And no matter how successful you end up being on this side of heaven, remember that your real success is rooted in the fact that “[y]ou are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).