I’ve learned a few things in my [insert largish number] of years on this planet. Perhaps the most important is not to follow my dreams. Does that make me sound like a glass-is-half empty kinda guy? Actually, there’s a part two that makes me more of a glass-is-overflowing kinda guy: Instead, follow the One who made your dreams.
The problem isn’t pursuing our dreams, it’s doing so with no sense of how to attain them—or what they should really look like. A surprisingly high percentage of the world’s most “successful” people are profoundly dissatisfied. This, I believe, is because they’ve succeeded not in fulfilling their dreams, but in procuring a crude imitation of them.
God plants a dream inside each of us while we’re still in the womb. But it’s only a seedling. And it’s not until we look back that we fully grasp what it–and we ourselves–were truly meant to be. If we’ve followed the Dream Maker’s plan, it will be something beautiful and unique. If we’ve followed our imitation of that plan, it will be a deeply disappointing counterfeit.
I was 23 when my father died, and was busily trying to construct a makeshift version of my dreams. So when my mother asked if I wanted the franchise my father had invested in—for a patented security system that makes alarms go off when store tags are not removed—I said, “No! I’m not a businessman, I’m a moviemaker!” I was determined to follow not just my dream, but my idea of how it would be fulfilled.
But movies are expensive. I tried for thirty years to raise the money to make my movies, but never could. Along the way, some wonderful things happened—I met the Dream Maker, met my wife, and met the two little girls who had been waiting patiently for us to get together so they could be born. But I never managed to make those movies.
Then one day I found out the franchise I’d rejected was now worth $600 million dollars, and I thought, Whoa, I could have financed a lot of movies with that money. But the Dream Maker knows an infinite number of ways to accomplish his plans.
I gave up the movie dream in 2005, moved my family to Cincinnati, Ohio; served at a church until the recession decimated their budget; formed a production company funded by church members; became friends with a businessman who asked if I had any unfulfilled dreams, and replied, “Funny you should ask…”
I’ve since written, directed and produced two feature films, Over-the-Rhine and Notzilla (additional projects are in the works). “God [really does] work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
So my wish for you is that you would learn more and more every day not to follow your dreams, but instead to follow…
The One who made your dreams.