People are often encouraged to “dream big dreams”, but whilst there is a place for that, sometimes a huge dream actually gets in the way of the small steps you need to start on a journey. This applies to your career, a business you might want to start, a relationship, and even to a church or ministry you may be trying to establish.
And though your beginning was small, your latter days will be very great. (Job 8:7, ESV)
A tiny acorn has all the programming inside it to become a mighty oak tree. If you plant one not much happens at all in the first few years. But the lesson of the giant oak is that we often over estimate what can happen in a year but underestimate what can happen in a decade, and have no clue about the impact we can make in a life time, leaving behind a massive legacy that may continue to grow for hundreds of years after you are gone. What you need is a small acorn dream, that whilst it has the potential to become huge is for now focussed on being small. Every giant tree was planted by someone who knew they would never enjoy its shade.
Jesus encourages us to have little faith. In a way small faith is all we can have. A small dream if inspired by God is unstoppable and can even move a mountain.
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” (Matthew 17:20)
Given time your acorn sized dream may turn out to be unstoppable. It can push obstacles out of the way gradually as it grows. One day the small dream you are nursing now might become something formidable and enormous.
Do not despise your little job
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin (Zechariah 4:10, NLT)
A big dream might be “I want to be a millionaire” or “I want to be the CEO of this company”. Sometimes at an interview an entry level person is asked “What do you want to be doing in five years”. Believe it or not the answer “doing your job and running the company” is not likely to get you the role. Most successful careers start with a small step taken because of a small dream. Why not dream with a lazar – like focus on doing well at the small thing in front of me?
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, (Ecclesiastes 9:10, NIV)
Before I was a doctor working in the NHS I had worked a number of other jobs in hospitals . I started as a cleaner (I wasn’t very good at that one), a kitchen porter putting away food orders and taking baby milk to the wards, a vegetable cook, and I also worked as a health care assistant (at the time we called them auxiliary nurses). These jobs would be despised by many an aspiring doctor. But I gained an understanding of the workings of the hospital and a deep appreciation of the vital role played by those doing the jobs which don’t tend to get the glory. My small dream was to work in a hospital in any way possible. This helped open the way for my big dream to be fulfilled.
Your small business may one day become a big business
Big dreamers when it comes to business often spend years writing the perfect business plan to launch the next global enterprise. They give up their day job with no income to replace it. They apply for eye-watering business loans, and fully expect to make huge losses for the first few years before finally getting to break even point. Someone with a small dream might instead start a side hustle with almost no capital, begin to make a little bit of money immediately, make a few errors along the way, but see their little business grow to the point that the side hustle becomes an all encompassing new career for them. Some entrepreneurs grow big businesses without the need to borrow any money at all for years.
Every relationship begins with a small step
Do you worry that you do not have many friends? Do you long for a network of work colleagues? Are you wishing you could find your life partner and get married? Sometimes it is possible to feel paralysed by fear which prevents us from meeting anyone. Have you ever stopped to consider that every relationship begin as two strangers meeting for the first time. Even a mother carrying their baby in their arms for the first time has no idea what will come from that first encounter. Lay aside your fears, for a moment do not think about what you are ultimately looking for, but resolve that the next time you meet someone new you will be gracious, kind, enquire about them and leave the encounter with a small seed of possible friendship having been sown. Kindness goes a long way in every sphere of life. Being focussed on the person in front of you and what small way you can be a blessing to them is a great small dream. Every journey starts with a small step. If you want to grow a friendship, why not focus on what steps you need to go through to feel comfortable asking them out for a coffee? If you want to find a life partner, why not join an online dating site and start “liking” a few profiles, and being open for a conversation or two. Remember that acorn as you think about your relationships in every sphere of your life.
Don’t try and copy the megachurch when you have a congregation of twenty
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants; it grows into a tree, and birds come and make nests in its branches. (Matthew 13:31-32, NLT)
When it comes to starting “your” ministry or pastoring a church, I am convinced we pay far too much attention to the “big” success stories. If you dream too big then you risk missing the small opportunity for growth and service in front of your nose. I have news for you: you are not the next Billy Graham. But you can look for imaginative ways to share your love for Jesus with a neighbour or a friend. Do not despise the small things God may be calling you to do. If you want to be a preacher, start by being a regular contributor at a small group Bible study and listening to and learning from others. If you want to be a worship leader, start by learning to play and sing for God in your own room alone. If you are a pastor of a small church do not treat it as you would a large church. Nurture it. Delight in its smallness do not despise it.
God seems to delight in the small.
He is looking for those who are faithful in small things in every area of life so that he can entrust big things to them.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” (Luke 16:10, NLT)
More on dreaming small