Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Our dreams reveal who we are. They expose our hopes, what scares us, and our desires. To tell someone our dreams is to open our self up to the potential pain of judgment. Sharing our dreams with others can create conflict – which is fine as long as it is handled well. We only share our dreams with those we feel we are accepted by. In Mathew Kelly’s book he says, “Intimacy is the mutual self-revelation that causes us to know and be known.” Can we get there safely in a group such as a congregation?
So the questions that Mathew Kelly poses in his book are intended for couples but are apropos for groups as well. Which dreams will help the group become the best version of their self? How does the group decide which dreams to implement? The book indicates that the most important discipline in achieving dreams is the ability to delay gratification. How an individual does this affects the whole group. It can take a while to hear everyone’s dreams. Can you wait until everyone has shared and then work together? Or do you get so excited about what you dream that you are sure it’s the dream everyone should adopt?
Delayed gratification can be painful, excruciating even. Think of those you know who have achieved their dreams. Did it happen over night? One of the important points made in the chapter in the book on this topic is that mediocre masses spend time trying to avoid pain – those who excel learn to endure it. Lance Armstrong is quoted as saying, “Pain is temporary. But quitting lasts forever.”
You may need to change your outlook on the purpose of a relationship. Relationships are not supposed to exist only as a pleasantry of life. Relationships put a magnifying glass on those places in us that need polishing – and polishing can hurt. The attributes mentioned earlier, delayed gratification and the ability to listen to the dreams of others, can always be further developed. Can you practice delaying gratification and listening to others when you most want to satisfy your self or speak up? This is even more difficult when you are working within a group because there are many more voices, dreams, and hopes.
If you truly want to develop great group cohesion the group will have to practice these disciplines. Listening to others helps bring understanding about their passion, what energizes them, and what sparks their enthusiasm. Knowing what jazzes someone is to know what drives them and is part of a deep level of intimacy.
So what are the dream killers? Judgment, dismissal, minimizing, and destructive criticism to name a few. Just because our dreams aren’t the same doesn’t mean we can’t come to common ground. But we will never come to common ground if we can’t share. It doesn’t take long for someone to realize that they can’t share their dreams because they will be put down. Be sure you don’t have a case of the ‘yeah, buts’. That’s the disease where every dream is written off as impossible because someone can think of a reason that it won’t work. Other dream killer statements: we’ve tried that before, let me play the devil’s advocate (he really doesn’t need any help you know), that’ll never happen, that makes no sense. I’m sure you could add to the list.
Dream big. Dream together.