Walt Disney messed me up, and it appears I’m not the only one.
Not long ago I was perusing the books at our local Christian bookstore, and began to notice a troubling theme in many of the nonfiction works. A large number of them boasted subject matter along these lines:
- “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
- “If we dream big, God will bless us.”
- “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
- “God gives you big dreams so He can fill the gap.”
- “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
- “God never does anything small.”
And on and on it went.
I walked away troubled, though I couldn’t put my finger on why. After a little while, it hit me. Our Christian culture has fallen victim to Disney theology.
Let me explain.
God doesn’t tell us in His Word that His purpose for our lives is to give us ‘dreams’ and see them fulfilled. No, He has plans for us. Not dreams. A subtle but important difference.
“All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old.” ~Psalm 139:16
God has a plan for each of us, but not a plan designed to put another notch on our belt for our own sake. His plans have everything to do with bringing glory to His Name…not our own.
Disney theology is a warped, twisted version of the gospel too many of us are buying into. It’s a combination of the American dream, feel-good theology and pursue-what-makes-you-happy, all in the name of following God. (Just so you know, I double checked a few of the above quotes. Quotes #1, #3, and #5 are direct quotes from Walt Disney himself, all them used in some variation by popular Christian speakers, preachers and authors of the day.)
God doesn’t call us to dream big. He calls us to know and walk with Him.
“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” ~Micah 6:8 AMP
The problem with spending all of our time reaching and achieving our dreams, is that our focus can shift from the Dream Giver to the dream itself. If we aren’t careful, our dreams can become idols. If I wake up each day more intent on pursuing my dream than pursuing Him, I’ve lost sight of what’s truly important.
For too many of us, we get caught up in a dream BIG, think BIG, live BIG mentality. But what if God calls you to a small mission field? I don’t mean small as in unimportant, but small in the sense of numbers. What is more important to you…quantity or depth?
Too many of us are wonder junkies for God. We want to hang with Him when He does the big stuff like parting the Red Sea or raising the dead. But what if He were to call you to minister to a tiny congregation of twenty people? Would that be enough? What if, instead of the huge children’s ministry you’d always envisioned for yourself, He asked you to homeschool your three small children instead? What if you were busy looking for a big platform, but God kept asking you to mentor just one woman who desperately needed accountability and guidance? Would you consider that a failure, or living your life well? A dream achieved?
God can call us into big things, but we should also be careful not to spurn His plan when He calls into the seemingly small things. Even Joseph, a man who was given a glimpse into his future with dreams, spent years living in heartache and agony before God brought the plans He had for him to fruition. And there’s something very important to realize in Joseph’s story: he didn’t have to pursue those dreams. There was no striving or chasing after them because when God declares something to be, it will be. That’s the nice thing about God’s plans versus a Disney dream. There’s no stopping what He sets in motion.
There’s no need to wish upon a star.