By Mark Hamby
Dreaming is a gift, a delightful part of childhood. Dreaming of being a teacher, a fireman, a policeman, an astronaut—and even a superhero—is essential to the preparation of a child’s future. However, without clear direction, focused cultivation, and consideration for others, dreaming will lead a child to wander aimlessly.
Ever since I was a child, I was told that I was a dreamer, and it is true—I really was a daydreamer. My dreams reached their pinnacle in math class, history class, science class, and English class. The only class in which I was not daydreaming was gym class! As a child, dreaming was merely a way for me to escape. With no direction, I wandered; with no focus, life was a blur. My dreams remained a muddle of wishful thinking that benefited no one. Years later, through the influence of the Word of God, daydreaming merged into a visionary gift that opened doors of unimaginable proportions.
If you have a child who is a dreamer, he possesses a gift that needs a little direction and a lot of training. In the book of Genesis we read about another dreamer. His name was Joseph. In chapter 37 we read, “A man found Joseph wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, ‘What are you seeking?’” As a youth, God had given Joseph a unique gift: the ability to see the future. Yet Joseph, like most youth even in modern times, spent quite a bit of time “wandering” before he was able to skillfully exercise his God-giftedness for the benefit of others.
Joseph’s self-centeredness got him into a lot of trouble; not only did his brothers hate him, but even his father became unsettled when he realized that Joseph may be taking his air of superiority too far (Gen 37:10). But in my opinion it was Joseph’s dad who was partly to blame because he encouraged his son’s prideful self-centeredness through partiality (Gen 37:3-4). It is important that parents do not flatter their children when they observe obvious talents in them. Rather than emphasizing a child’s talents, parents should celebrate a child’s hard work and effort.
Even today children who are recognized as possessing extraordinary abilities—as opposed to extraordinary effort—have a greater tendency to become prideful and apathetic, relaxing their effort as they reach their adult years. This tendency hinders the advancement of their giftedness. In order to substantiate this conjecture, Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck gave 400 seventh graders a set of relatively easy puzzles to assemble and then divided the students into two groups. The first group was told, “You must be smart at this!” The second group was told, “You must have worked really hard!” Then each child was offered the opportunity to take a follow-up test that included either another set of easy puzzles or a much harder set of puzzles. More than fifty percent of the kids praised for their intelligence chose the easy set of puzzles, and an astounding ninety percent of the kids praised for their hard work chose the more difficult puzzles.
When God’s gifts are used to build our own self-centered dreams, without the foundation of mature spiritual discernment and persevering practice, we wander from the plan and purpose that God has designed. Hebrews 5:13-14 states, “. . . [E]veryone who lives on milk is unskilled in the Word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Joseph possessed a gift to see the future, but he lacked the spiritual discernment to know how to use this gift for God’s glory and the benefit of others.
So how does God help wandering dreamers to see clearly? Like Joseph, when we enroll in the school of testing, our inner directional compass begins to realign. Our clouded vision is no longer obscured. In Psalm 105 David writes that God “sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the Word of the Lord tested him.” The Hebrew word for “tested” here means “to fuse metal” or “to refine, purify, or purge away like a goldsmith.” As a metaphor it carries the idea of proving or examining someone.
Only after years of discipline and suffering could Joseph understand that the “bowing down” of his brothers (Gen. 42:6) was an opportunity to provide and protect, not to lord over them. God used abandonment, imprisonment, and betrayal to refine Joseph’s vision for the future. Once he realized that his dreams were God-given gifts for the benefit of others, the vision for his future ministry became clear. Through his gift of dreaming, Joseph would now pave the way for his family and nation to see God’s redeeming love!
Dreams coupled with discernment lead to deliverance. When we use our gifts for the benefit of others, our dreams will come true in ways we never dreamed possible.
Mark Hamby is the founder and president of Lamplighter Ministries, where he serves with a dedicated staff to make Lamplighter Publishing, Lamplighter Theatre, Lamplighter Guild, Lamplighter Life-Transforming Seminars, and Lamplighter Moments Daily Radio Broadcast a reality. It is his mission to make ready a people prepared for the Lord by building Christ-like character—one story at a time. You can read or listen to the most recent Lamplighter production at www.lamplighter.net and www.lamplighterguild.com. Mark will be a keynote speaker at the 2013 THSC Southwest Convention & Family Conference this August in The Woodlands.
Books to Read:
For Children 6-11
The Bible (Hebrews 5)
Basil: Honesty and Industry by Charlotte O’Brien
Jack the Conqueror by Mrs. C.E. Bowen
For Children 10-13
The Bible (Hebrews 5)
Brave Heart by Franz Hoffman
The Lamplighter by Maria S. Cummins
For Teens and Adults
The Bible (Hebrews 5)
Hand on the Bridle by Kathleen M. Macleod
Ishmael and Self-Raised by E.D.E.N. Southworth
That Printer of Udell’s by Harold Bell Wright
Falsely Accused by Frederick Vining Fisher
Videos to Watch:
The Experience of a Lifetime
 The Genius in All of Us by David Shenk. In his book Shank dismantles the controversy of natural ability versus extraordinary effort through a myriad of examples and convincing research.
 Gesenius’s Lexicon; Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance H6884; E-Sword H6884