I have a friend who’s a tragic dreamer. He’s constantly flitting between obsessions. One month he wants to open a bar, the next he wants to be a male model. With each new obsession, I hear about how it’s his greatest dream. And with each new obsession, he invests a ton of money.
Unfortunately, these dreams never turn out to be lucrative. Worse, he has a family that suffers each time he pursues his half-baked schemes.
We all know someone like that. And I think the temptation is to worry that our dreams might be as silly as that guy’s. I know I’ve worried about that. I have dreams, and I know that’s good. But what if my dreams are silly? What if they’re turning me into that guy?
How do you know when it’s time to walk away from a dream? If the dream changes each month, it isn’t as scary to walk away from one and embrace another. But if you’ve devoted time, money and emotional energy into a certain dream, it can feel like a death in the family to give it up.
How do you know when it’s time to move on?
Obviously a decision as big as this needs loads of prayer. Only God can give you the green light to walk away from a dream. But I see three scenarios that might indicate it’s time.
When It Goes Against Your Nature
I love George Clooney’s character in the movie Up in the Air. He’s a confident, ruthless operator who has made it his job to fire people. He’s surgical in his approach. It’s the exact opposite of who I am.
As much as I admire his ability to do something like that, if I were to try it I’d become depressed. I couldn’t handle the gut wrench that comes along with firing people. It’s against my nature. I’m a gentle, empathetic soul. I don’t know that I’d be able to separate my emotions from those of the person I’m firing.
So if I had a dream to become the next Ryan Bingham (Clooney’s character), I should probably walk away.
A great dream should tap into the core of who you are. If it doesn’t line up with that, it’s probably a sign it’s not the right dream for you.
When It Causes You to Neglect a Dream From God
Part of what makes my dreamer friend such a piteous character is that he’s neglecting the responsibility of his family. A long time ago, God gave him a dream to be a husband and father that provides. But now, his secondary dreams are often causing him to neglect the primary one—a dream directly from God.
I believe we have no business pursuing our dreams if they conflict with God-given ones.
There are three things that are necessary to find out if God gave you the dream. A dream from God will:
1. Ultimately bring glory to God.
2. Bless and benefit others.
3. Seem bigger than what you can handle on your own.
If your dream doesn’t fall into those categories and it’s causing you to neglect a dream that is from God, it’s definitely time to walk away. There are better and bigger dreams to pursue.
When You Have to Compromise Your Beliefs to Make It Happen
Finally, a dream worth pursuing shouldn’t require compromising your morals. We see an example of this in the life of Abraham.
In Genesis 15, Abraham was given a dream that he and his wife would have a son. Abraham’s offspring were supposed to bless and benefit others. But the dream seemed impossible, because Sarah was growing old and hadn’t had any children yet.
Time was ticking away, and the dream wasn’t getting any closer to being fulfilled. So Abraham and his wife had the opportunity to compromise. While, technically, Abraham could impregnate another woman and have sort of surrogate pregnancy, it wasn’t the dream God had given them. It was the easy way out.
That’s what they chose to do. They took matters into their own hands, disobeying what God had told them. Instead, Abraham should have surrendered to God’s timing for his dream to come to fruition.
Often, when God gives you a big dream, there will come a time when it seems impossible. In a sense, the dream will die, because it doesn’t look like it will ever happen. That can be extremely frustrating to us, and it opens the door to compromise. But sometimes, if we choose not to force it, God will bring the dream back to life and accomplish it through His power.
By walking away from the dream and surrendering our plans to God, we let God make it happen, so He gets all the glory.
I’m not normally the type to tell you to walk away from a dream. In fact, I think far too many people walk away from dreams they should fight to fulfill. But if God will get the glory from your walking away, it’s the best thing you can do. Walk away from one dream and discover the dream God has for you—one greater than you could possibly imagine.