The Dream and the Joy
“Then they said
to one another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let
us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say that
some wild beast has devoured him. We shall see what will become of
his dreams!” (Genesis 37:19-20)
We just attended yet another Christian
leadership conference. This one was an excellent session for pastors
and spouses, presented by Focus on the Family. The speaker, H. P.
London, Jr., told of the WONDER of ministry, that God calls us, and
His call is like a remarkable dream. The "dream" becomes a growing
ache that is never satisfied until His will is done. He quoted a
song, "The dream never stops, just the
dreamer; the song never stops, just the singer."
He said, "If
God has given you a dream, it's likely an impossible dream, one that
you can't complete by yourself." He continued, "A big dream
is proportionate to your faith in Him." But he also cautioned that,
“ministry is filled with rejection; trust
somebody and they (often) betray
The statistics he cited about the
ministry are disquieting: “1,000
pastors are lost every month in the U.S.
– they opt out… 50% of those in seminary leave the ministry within
five years after graduation… 50% of ‘church plants’ don’t survive
the first few years… 50-70% of clergy spouses work outside of the
home… 33% of all pastors have been fired at least one time… The
average church in the U.S. has 90 people in attendance or fewer…
Pastors spend up to 40% of their time dealing with the ‘negative’…
51% of churches in the U.S. have had a major conflict that has
resulted in a reduction in attendance…
Seven people or less in a local church
can cause disharmony and it only takes one week of contention to
destroy a decade of church contentment.”
Some of his
words brought smiles from those in attendance, especially his
experiences during decades in ministry. We especially enjoyed his
phrase “Joy Sucker,” as applied to
those who rob others of their joy.
He told about
one man early in his ministry, who stood in the lobby waiting for
him after church services. He would gaze into the pastor’s face and
utter statements about his sermons, such as, “Who
cares?” or “So what?” or he
would look at his watch and drive an emotional spear into the
pastor’s heart, by snarling, “You wasted
admitted he had very mixed feelings some years later, when he
officiated at the man’s funeral. He said he was appropriately
somber: “I did a pretty fair job with the
funeral, but I smiled inside. The man was in heaven; that was a good
thing. We were happy he was gone, and that was a good thing, too.”
In the Book of
Genesis Chapter 37, we see that Joseph was given a dream from the
Lord. His brothers were annoyed by the dream and they spurned him.
Usually, when people do or say rejecting things, we don’t know what
their motives are really all about. But God knows our thoughts
(Psalm 139:2) and He will reveal us, as He did Joseph’s brothers in
Genesis 37:19-20 - “They said to one
another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now
kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say that some wild
beast has devoured him. We shall see what will become of his
they could harm him and get away with it, but God had other ideas.
God’s dream included that Joseph would save the very brothers who
had become “Joy Suckers” in his
life. They would indeed SEE “what
of his dreams!”
Joseph, in the
Book of Genesis, became a “type” for many, including those who are
sidetracked in the accomplishment of God’s will. But note that
where God gives a dream to one of His “little ones,” He will bring
it to pass, no matter what the opposition, even if the opposition is
I was given a
dream of ministry at 16-years of age, and promptly ran away from His
purposes for fifteen years, becoming my own “Joy
Sucker.” However, in God’s time, decades later, He began to
unfold the dream in ways I did not expect.
given earlier, that “50% of those in
seminary leave the ministry within five years after graduation”
is a special concern. While in college, years ago, I met those who
had no intention of a life of ministry, though the college was a
“religious” institution. One of the men was an ordained pastor who
declined a life of ministry, to instead be a “funeral director.” We
have met many who want out of ministry. Some of those who opt out,
probably never had a true “call” from the Lord, and any dream they
had was not His. But others (like me when I was young), simply lack
the faith to continue, not understanding that when God calls, He
will make it happen.
We tend to look
at our human shortcomings, which are very real, indeed. But we must
also look to the Lord, who said in many ways and places in
Scripture, “I am the Lord; I speak, and the
word which I speak will come to pass” (Ezekiel 12:25).
If we think that
all this is in OUR strength and not His, we tend to become like the
two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who “had
trusted” or who “had hoped”
(note the past tense) that Jesus would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21).
They were looking at the circumstances of Jesus’ death, not
understanding that the apparent “death” of the dream is not the end,
because God gives life to the dead. Their faith only went so far,
whereas God’s faithfulness is without limit. When all seems lost,
He will bring you through.
Joseph had a
dream, which was thrown into a pit with him. He was then sold into
slavery, lost his reputation, and went to jail. All was lost, but
was it? Actually, nothing was lost because the dream was given by
God, who subsequently brought it to pass.
Do you have a
dream? Do you know someone (like your pastor) that has a dream?
Don’t focus on the problems - They may be real, but so is God.
Lord, we turn to
You right now. We trust in Your dream for our lives – You will
bring it to pass. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"