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  • Writer's pictureJack Selcher

The False Gospel of Living the Dream

a cross on a church at sunset

Before track practice started, I asked a fellow high school track coach, “How are you today?”

He said, “I am living the dream.”

He loved coaching. I do also, but for me, it isn’t living the dream. Some would say that is okay. Living the dream is different for different people. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”1

Our dreams flesh out what we value most. For some adults, living the dream is retiring early. For others, it might be a happy home life. For a kid, it might be playing a sport professionally. There is nothing wrong with having a goal, but thinking that achieving it will bring lasting satisfaction is a delusion.

Our dreams usually describe an imagined ideal, self-focused existence. We prioritize what we can become, do, or achieve to validate and give meaning to our earthly existence and make it all it can be. The reality, however, is that we live in a God-centered universe. He made and governs everything. Life isn’t about us. It’s about Him.

Knowing that, Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33, NIV). Seeking what we value most usually competes with pursuing what God values most. God wants us to love Him with all of our being and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).

When we chase our dreams, we are benching ourselves in the Superbowl to play a football video game. When we try to maximize personal success, we aren’t fully available for the good works God has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Pursuing our dream distracts us and hurts all the people we could be helping if we weren’t following our agenda. We are wasting our God-given resources.

Achieving my dreams didn’t deliver all the benefits I expected. I repeatedly experienced letdowns. Those who say they are living their dream are rarely honest enough with themselves and others to admit that it isn’t as wonderful as they imagined it would be. Perhaps, not enough time has passed since fulfilling their dreams to experience the inevitable contentment’s inevitable waning.

To think life is about living our dream is like trying to fill a colander with water instead of using it to drain cooked vegetables. The colander is designed to let the water run through it, not hold it. God designed us to live for Him and find lasting satisfaction only in Him (John 10:10). We look elsewhere in vain.

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1. 100 Dream Quotes to Motivate You to Achieve Your Goals (

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