“So, I have an idea to make a magazine just like RELEVANT. How’d you do it? Is there a book? Where’d you get money?” Those rapid-fire questions were the first words out of his mouth after we shook hands.
It wasn’t that this college student was wanting my help to make a magazine “just like RELEVANT“ that got me (they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I guess). I can overlook the fact he was wanting my help to make a competitor.
What got me was the idea that there’s some sort of cheat sheet he thought I was privy to—a step-by-step guide to launching a magazine or a database of free money. He wanted the quickest and easiest path to accomplishing his idea. So he thinks: This guy’s done it. I’ll just copy what he learned.
I wish I could say it was the first time I’ve gotten this question, but every week I get emails from twentysomethings pitching me their big plans. All they need is some free marketing, some funding or, sometimes, for me to write them back detailing what I did. Then they could see their dream happen. What they’re really looking for is a shortcut.
While it may sound harsh to say that, there is a sense of entitlement and urgency that saturates our generation. We’ve grown up hearing nothing but yes. We’re going to be the best. We’re going to change the world. We’re going to surpass our parents’ generation.
We haven’t had to wait for anything. If we want something, we get it on demand. Our lives are filled with drive-thru Starbucks, one-click ordering and Netflix instant streaming.
We’ve had things handed to us, and when it comes to our dreams, we’ve been told God will give us the desires of our hearts. But are we actually willing to pay the price?
The truth is, it was eight years after I first said, “This is something God has called me to do,” that I finally got to see RELEVANT become a reality. In that time, I had to face disappointment and frustration because my plan wasn’t happening how I wanted. I had to take other jobs (turns out it’s hard to launch a magazine with no money); I had to keep refining my plan; I had to keep learning this business. But above all, I had to grow. In hindsight, I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did.
I thought I was ready, but I wasn’t prepared for what He was calling me to do yet. I needed to struggle. I needed to doubt. I needed to let go of the controls. If God called me to do this, He would open the doors, not me. And at the same time, somewhat paradoxically, I needed to have unwavering resolve to pursue the vision He put in me.
What happens when your dreams don’t happen easily, quickly or how you thought they would? How do you deal with the delay? It’s in those seasons our foundation is laid. Our response determines everything else.
A lot of people give up. They get distracted. They get packed social schedules. They choose an easier path and eventually the dream that once consumed them fades away.
If something comes easily and without sacrifice, it’s rarely significant.
In this issue, we spotlight several people who didn’t waver in the pursuit of their God-given vision. In a section we dubbed “The Art of Faith,” for example, we look at critically acclaimed New York-based artist Makoto Fujimura—who not only has conquered the New York art scene, but is doing amazing work that reflects his deep personal faith.
Max McLean is similar. He had a vision to adapt C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters for the theater, which he’s done with critical and commercial success. It’s unlike anything else on the stage. The list goes on.
In March, we’ll celebrate the 50th issue of RELEVANT. In those eight years, we’ve talked to countless people who said yes to God and ventured into uncharted territory with their lives. Each tells a unique story of vision and sacrifice, because the two go hand-in-hand.
God has put dreams in each of us, something we can contribute to the world that no one else can. What’s yours? And what are you doing today to pursue it?
If your dream is worth doing, it won’t be easy. But rather than give up when obstacles arise, push through. Embrace the process. Embrace how you’ll change. Be teachable, passionate, humble and determined.
Remember, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).
God has a purpose for each of our lives. Choose to make a difference with yours. If your dream is truly God-given, it will happen.
Just don’t go looking for a cheat sheet.