Hi Sweet Friends,
Kevin and I recently had a long, introspective discussion about dreaming and purpose and vision. It came from me asking my son, Caleb, a discussion question from a study I had done. I asked him what dream he might pursue if he knew he couldn’t fail. He replied, “I don’t really think that way. I’m not much of a dreamer.” Caleb is very much like his dad, and that’s when it hit me: I’m not married to a dreamer, I’m married to a maintainer. Guess which one I am. I’m a dreamer, and Kevin is a maintainer. Sounds like a perfect match, right? Like Chip and Joanna Gaines. Certainly, our differences complement each other, and we work and live and get more done because of what we each bring to the other. That sounds perfect on paper. The truth is, dreamers and maintainers think differently and approach life differently. We desperately need each other; and at the same time, we are constantly getting in each other’s way or blocking each other’s goals with our different perspectives.
As a dreamer, I love to look at recipe books with pictures and plan the great fellowships where I will serve the food. I love to look at a place and redecorate it in my mind. I often fanaticize about times with my family and replay the movie going on in my head. The problem? Everyone has to have the same movie in their head that I do and play the roles I have assigned to them correctly for me not to be disappointed. Everyone has to embrace my glorious ideas and help me make them happen. And when they don’t, they are dream crushers and obviously don’t care about me. A dreamer can feel lonely, frustrated, and misunderstood.
And what about the poor maintainer? He’s just trying to get the job done and keep all the plates in his life spinning. He can evaluate a situation and come up with an estimate of time, money, responsibility, storage, and burden before the dreamer has finished explaining how wonderful life will be when a dream is a reality. The maintainer works hard to keep life under control and doesn’t need any sprinkles, fringe, or glitter thrown into the mix. He will often say the words, “Good enough,” or, “If it ain’t broke…” Throwing more balls into his juggling act just makes life harder, no matter how pretty the balls are. Accused of being a dream crusher, he often feels frustrated, unappreciated, and alone.
Dreams, visions, and creativity are beautiful reflections of the character of God. Maintenance, endurance, and faithfulness are beautiful reflections of the character of God. They are all important and necessary. God gifted us differently on purpose. Living and leading and worshiping with people with different giftings is a challenge, but it is as God intended. I must sacrifice and love and defer my will for the sake of others. The characteristics of God would never be called out in me and matured if I only had people that agreed with me and thought like I do in my world. I would struggle to see the character and glory of God in others if my own will was never challenged and asked to compromise for someone’s sake other than my own. Our differences show us what God is like.
I’ve made it a sport to diagnose people as dreamers or maintainers and watch how they relate with each other. Sometimes it’s humorous. Sometimes it’s hurtful. Sometimes it’s just baffling. How can people assess a situation and come up with such different perspectives? When it comes to staying in a hotel, Kevin is like Mr. Darlin’ from Andy Griffith, “Just a bed ‘n a Bible, please.” I need some fluff to go with my bed and Bible. Kevin and I recently met at a restaurant for lunch and then were going to a car dealership. We hopped in our cars and then made completely opposite decisions three times on our way to the dealership. When I turned right, he turned left. When he waited for a light, I turned right on red. I was amazed that he kept making such obviously wrong decisions. He’s a Fedex driver for cryin’ out loud! It was another awakening for me of how differently we think. Were either of us wrong in the routes we chose to the car lot? Of course not. Kevin might have been a little wrong, but mostly not. It was just another reminder that as believers in Christ, we have the same destination, but our journeys may look very different. If we’re all holding to the truth of Scripture, we can’t just label each other as wrong. Sometimes it’s just different. I may think that your choices are whacky, and you may be light years away from my train of thought. And yet, God has asked us to be together and work, live, plan, and serve in harmony with each other knowing it will be so hard. Why would He ask something so difficult of us? Because it requires selflessness, sacrifice, putting other’s needs ahead of our own, laying down a life for a friend, characteristics that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share in their relationship that They have invited us into.
Scripture tells us that we are made in the image of God and also tells us that God has given us gifts and talents to bear His image and reflect His glory. You have gifts that shout of characteristics of God in you. So do I. And it takes us being together to portray that image more fully and clearly. My dreamy, romantic, emotional heart needs to walk with a heart that is steadfast and unmovable in the truth of God. A person who lives in black and white with barbed wire boundaries needs to walk with someone who eats chips in the car, hugs the mangy dog, and laughs uncontrollably in church.
As in all things, our enemy is plotting against us. He would have us look at our neighbor and either despise or envy their personality type or gifting. Even more cruel, he would have us hate our own, feeling we are horribly deficient in who we are. Why is it that we can remember with such clarity where we were standing or what we were wearing when we heard words that pierced us? I’ve had plenty of words of affirmation, but the words that are the loudest in my head are the ones that cause me to question my worth. I’ve been told that I talk too much. I’ve been told I’m just too much, period. By the same token, I’ve been told that I don’t do enough, and I don’t do it well. You’ve probably received similar messages somewhere in your life. How do we live in the struggle of being both too much and not enough? If I’m made in God’s image, surely there is an instruction sheet, picture, or example somewhere of how I’m supposed to be. There is. His name is Jesus. He speaks clearly to us in Scripture of how to live, obey, give, feed, befriend, pray, love, and glorify God. But here’s the kicker: we get to do it in ways that are unique to our personalities and giftings that God gave us to glorify Him. All of us will follow God’s leading to do all of those things differently. Here are just a few reminders from Paul as he instructed believers in living differently but together: I Corinthians 16:14 says, “Do everything in love,” 1Corinthians 10:31 says, “Do all to the glory of God,” and Philippians 4:8 reminds us to keep our minds on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. And don’t forget to heed Ephesians 4:15 and speak the truth in love. Remember, God is both. These admonitions are for all of us, regardless of our gifts. I will never be a worship leader, but I can make more lasagna than you can shake a stick at to feed a bunch of men battling addiction. Kevin can’t make flower arrangements, but he can sing and teach and pray at a nursing home and give comfort, hope, and love to those so close to shedding their skin and going home. We do it differently, friends. God gave us different expressions of Himself so that we can see Him in each other and glorify Him together.
The battle between the differences in thinking and personalities, the dreamer and the maintainer, is when our wills intersect, where my will meets yours and they don’t match. Aha, there’s the rub. Assuming we’re all Christ followers, we learn to love the other more than ourselves. We defer, we submit, we lay down our life for a friend, we live in the context of sacrifice. Why? Because this is the relationship of the Trinity. So this is what living in difference is all about; laying down my will. This is how the Trinity loves and glorifies each other. This bought our salvation. This is the very heart of God and life of Christ in us. This is how Jesus taught us to pray. This shows the world what God is like.
So let’s learn to love our own gifts and submit them to the will of God and the love of Christ and the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Let’s join them in the relationship that They are always inviting us into and for which They sacrificed everything to make happen. Let’s seek to recognize and appreciate the characteristics of God that we see in each other. God knows what He is doing in making us different. If it weren’t for dreamers, nothing would be pretty or smell good or be funny or shiny. We would have spam and ramen noodles every night for supper. There would be no sprinkles on cookies. If it weren’t for maintainers, we would all be in our pajamas eating powdered donuts (with sprinkles) with no electricity or running water because we were looking at a recipe book and forgot to go to work to make the money to pay the bills. Thankfully, we’re not that extreme, but you get my point. Whatever your diagnosis, dreamer or maintainer, you are made to be an image bearer and to do everything in love and to the glory of God. So glad I get to do it with you. Do I have powdered donut on my mouth?