I just attended my 14th Global Leadership Summit (GLS). Every year I have implemented at least one big insight into my leadership and our church. I’ve always had a number of personal things I was able to put into practice to help me be a better person and leader. Regardless of the conference you choose, pick at least one really good leadership conference to attend every year. The “break” from work and the infusion of leadership insights is vital if we are to continue to grow as leaders. I’ve included the link to my friend Josh Reich’s blog where he recorded 202 Favorite Quotes from the 2019 Leadership Summit.
Words for My Experience
Often a speaker or preacher will state a principle or idea that you know immediately rings true. You know it’s true because they put words to what you experienced. When you hear the idea or principle there’s this immediate reaction of “Yes!” inside. That was my experience on Thursday morning of the GLS.
Start Somewhere…Just Start!
Liz Bohannon (author of Beginner’s Pluck) shared her story, journey, and the principles that helped her see a huge dream become reality. One key part of her journey was that she had to go from dreaming big to dreaming small. That is counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. I’ll bet you have never heard anyone tell you to dream small! I had never heard that idea even floated. She said before your big dream can become real, you need to dream small. A big dream can immobilize you, overwhelm you, and keep you stuck. Big dreams easily bring out the naysayers and cause us to doubt, find and listen to excuses, and allow fear to immobilize us.
To get unstuck and move toward your dream you have to do something… anything that might take a step toward your dream. You have to start somewhere. Liz Bohannon said be a doer, not just a dreamer, or dream small first. The question you and I must ask ourselves is what is the next step toward the dream that God has given me. Determine what God wants you to do, not what others want, or think you should do.
My Big Dream
Then as I reflected on what she was saying it hit me that I have actually put that very principle into action. Sometime around 1986, God gave me a big dream. I wanted to have a part in reaching the 1.2 billion Muslims (now 1.8 billion) with the good news of Jesus. I gathered a group of folks at my church and every week we prayed. That was the first step toward my dream.
Then, I connected with a mission agency (Team Expansion) that also had a parallel dream. However, it is interesting that I had never met a real Muslim, at least not that I was aware of. Honestly, I figured the best that might happen is we provide prayer and financial support for someone who would go to a Muslim people group.
Doug Lucas, my friend and leader of Team Expansion, traveled to Moscow in 1990, in what was the Soviet Union, to try to meet folks from what we called Soviet Central Asia (or the “Stans” – Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, etc.). However, he “failed” and didn’t make a connection. He did meet leaders of a church in southern Ukraine from the city of Kherson, which was seated right above the Crimea. We had never heard of the place. But the church wanted help to learn to do ministry. And we discovered there was an unreached Muslim group a couple of hours from them – The Crimean Tatar. So it was time to take the next step.
Explore and Evaluate
Doug and I visited to see what the situation looked like in Ukraine. I was blown away by the desire these Christians in Kherson had to reach people. They had been persecuted in the Soviet system for seventy years but were ready to use their newfound freedoms (Ukraine became an independent country in 1991) for Christ.
The next step? I asked our church in Cincinnati to send me and my family for ten months to see what was realistic and to figure out the next steps. The ten months spent there confirmed we needed to go further. So we recruited another family and together served there for four more years. I had to learn the Russian language and culture. We helped start new churches. We helped them develop programs to serve their community. Eventually, we helped them send the first Ukrainian missionaries to the Tatars. We helped start a training institute called Tavriski Christian Institute (TCI) in 1997. Today TCI is a government accredited college and they are helping support and fuel church planting movements in Central Asia (no names for the safety of those in the countries).
What’s Your Small Dream?
The big dream of reaching Muslims in the heart of the old Soviet Union felt like an overwhelming and impossible task. Honestly, it was. I just had to take a step at a time. It started with years of prayer, followed by a short visit, followed by a ten-month exploratory time, followed by a four-year investment. When we left in 1998, I could have never imagined the impact God was having in the hardest to reach and most dangerous places in the world. Yes, there was always fear. There were huge challenges. There were all kinds of reasons why this should have never worked. But we chose to walk through each fear and challenge.
This story is repeated over and over in our Bible! God had a HUGE dream for Abraham. He would be the father of a great nation so huge that no one could take a complete census! But at first, he only had to do one thing – “Go…to the land I will show you.” The first step was to move his family. Yes, it was hard and there were lots of unknowns. But that was the action that would allow God to continue to make the big dream a reality. It is interesting that Abraham didn’t get to see the dream and promise fully completed in his own lifetime. But his obedience ultimately led to Israel becoming a nation that brought us the Messiah and you and me having faith and eternal hope.
What’s your “big” dream? Has God put one on your heart? Don’t ignore it. But don’t get stuck there either. What do you do with big dreams? You start small. To move toward your dream you have to do something. You have to start somewhere. Be a doer, not just a dreamer. You have to take a step toward your dream. Dream small before you’ll ever hope to live your big dream. What’s that step? Pray about it. Tell others what it is. Do it!