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FIRST-PERSON: God uses those with a dream

LAKE FOREST, Calif. (BP)–Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind. It started off as a dream, as a vision, a goal.

Therefore, the first task of leadership is to set the vision for the organization. If you don’t set the vision, you’re not the leader. Whoever is establishing the vision and goals in your church is the leader of that particular church. A church will never outgrow its vision and the vision of a church will never outgrow the vision of the pastor.

So I want to challenge you to dream great dreams for God.

The Bible says, “God is able to do far more than anything we would ever dare to ask or even dream of, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes” (Ephesians 3:20, Living Bible).

That’s an amazing verse. In it God tells us, “Think up the biggest thing you think I can do in your life, in your ministry, in your church, and I can top that; I can beat it.”

So you need to ask yourself this question, “What would I attempt for God if I knew I couldn’t fail?”

Let that expand your horizons. Let it expand your dreams. Let it expand your vision into God’s unlimited vision for your ministry. But how do you find God’s vision for your ministry?


When God reveals His vision for your ministry, the FIRST THING He shows you is the WHAT. He shows you what He’s going to do. The big mistake is, Once God has shown you what He’s going to do in your life and ministry, there is a tendency in all of us to immediately run out and assume we can accomplish it any way we wish.

So we go out and try to accomplish it under our own power, in our own way, and through our own efforts. And inevitably, we fall flat on our face, and it’s then that we come crawling back to God.

“Oh, God, I’m so sorry,” we say. “What did I do? Did I miss the vision? You told me what You were going to do, and I went out and tried to accomplish it and fell flat on my face. Did I miss the vision?”


And God will say to you, “No, you didn’t. You just didn’t wait for Part Two. I told you what I was going to do, but you didn’t wait to find out HOW I was going to do it.” God’s HOW is always in the exact opposite way that you thought.

You say, “I’ll grow the church this way….” And God will say, “No, let’s do it My way,” because He wants the glory.


Once you see the WHAT and the HOW, you’re still not finished. There’s a third part of the vision: God shows you WHEN. The longer I walk with the Lord and the longer I’m in ministry, the more I’m convinced that God’s timing is perfect. He is never a minute early; He is never a minute late; He is always right on time. And His timing is as important as the WHAT and HOW of His vision. You must wait for all three parts for God to work in your life.


Have you ever taken a Polaroid picture? You take it and the longer you look at it, the clearer it gets. That’s true in my life. When I first started Saddleback Community Church, I didn’t know what it was going to end up like. All I knew was that God had called me to this spot, and I had a bunch of ideas in a bag, and I wanted to build it on the five purposes of God. That’s all I knew. As I have walked with the Lord and worked with the Lord over the years, the vision has gotten clearer and clearer.

Or you could say that God’s vision is like a scroll. When you unroll a scroll, you don’t see the whole thing from beginning to end. You just see what’s right in front of you.

Then you roll it up a little bit and unroll a little bit more. That’s the way God’s will is in our lives. He doesn’t lay His full plan before you all at once. If you knew what would happen the rest of your life, you might contemplate suicide. Some tough points are coming up along with some turning points, rough edges, difficulties and crises that you probably don’t think you can handle.

And the truth is you can’t. But God’s grace is sufficient for each day and when you get there, the grace will be there.

So don’t borrow trouble by worrying about what might lie ahead.

Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34, NIV).

Instead, you should seek God’s vision day-by-day. You get God’s vision by asking, “WHAT do You want me to do? HOW do You want me to do it? And WHEN do You want me to do it?”

You need to stop praying, “God, bless what I’m doing,” and start praying, “God, help me to do what You’re blessing.”

I get up in the morning, and I pray this prayer every day: “God, I know You’re going to do some very exciting things in the world today. Would You give me the privilege of just being in on some of them? I just want to be in on what You’re doing. I want to do what You’re blessing.”
Adapted from a message by Rick Warren titled, “Authentic Leadership,” from a Purpose-Driven Church Conference. Warren is pastor of Saddleback Community Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of the best-selling “The Purpose-Driven Life.”

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  • Rick Warren