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Friday, December 9, 2011

Actualizing Your Dream

"I have a dream."

This is the most memorable sentence in probably the most significant American civil rights speech ever given. Of course, the oratory was delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C. by Martin Luther King, Jr. The "dream" refers to a time of racial equality in America.

Although the address has become famously known as the "I Have a Dream" speech, the actual speech King delivered that day was originally titled "Normalcy, Never Again." Toward the end of its delivery noted African American gospel singer Mahalia Jackson shouted to Dr. King from the crowd, "Tell them about the dream, Martin!"

In reply, Dr. King stopped delivering his prepared speech and started "preaching," punctuating his points with "I have a dream." This repetition (a rhetorical tool known as anaphora) is used eight times to paint a picture of a an integrated, unified America. No wonder people remember this as the "I Have a Dream" speech.

He opens this part of the speech with the following words ...

"I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

King had first delivered a speech incorporating some of the same sections in Detroit in June 1963, when he marched on Woodward Avenue with Walter Reuther and the Reverend C. L. Franklin, and he had even rehearsed other parts. But, the delivery on August 28, 1963. resounds in the heart and soul of the country.

A dream can be defined as "a visionary creation of a strongly desired goal or purpose." No one knew better than Dr. King that his dream, alone, would not take African Americans to their rightful "promised land." In order to manifest a vision, people must act, and King was one of the most famous activist leaders in history as he organized and led many of the most significant campaigns of the civil rights movement.

A Dream or Vision

A true dream, a vision for the future, will capture your entire heart and at the deepest level, your spirit and soul.

The 7 Components of Vision

Author/Evangelist Ericka Jackson outlines seven components of vision to clarify a vision and make a vision a reality. The information is very helpful for as both a working exercise and a road map for accomplishment. I have added additional ideas where deemed necessary to accomplish writing a vision statement, a mission statement, and a values statement.

Ericka Jackson's full article:
Ericka Jackson's website:

First let's review our mission. Ask yourself, "Why do we exist?"

1. Purpose

Naturally, purpose gives direction. Jackson suggests, "To uncover your purpose, ask yourself, 'If money and time were not an issue, what I would do?'"  At this stage, you can put logic aside and let the right side of your brain (the creative side) take over. Use as many senses as possible to build this vision. 

2. Desires of your heart

These desires go beyond surface-level dreams to those things you deeply long for, desire and are willing to work for. The desires of your heart compel you in a way that won’t let you go. What do you really want? Don't be afraid to have total faith in yourself.

But fulfillment of a dream requires more -- it requires total faith in your Creator. After all, He is the great designer. "Scripture tells you that God will give you the desires of your heart if you put His Kingdom first. While dreams require nothing in particular and may or may not come to pass, desires of your heart require obedience and are part of God’s grace, mercy and blessings that He has in store for you," Jackson advises.

Find a human problem to solve through the awesome power of a vision. Then, God will bless you, so that you in turn can bless others, through sharing your unique gifts. That way you are helping people, touching other lives and making a difference in the world.

You can only create significant improvement in your communities if our vision is about exactly that - the difference you want to make, the dream of our communities' highest potential.

As you plan for the common good, remember, only you have the power to kill your dreams. Be positive as you believe in your success, not swayed by those who expect you to fail. At the same time, be flexible in your thinking so that your vision reflects positive change and adaptation.

To write a concrete vision statement, you need to distill your vision into a usable form. Use the following formula to shape your vision statement:

Vision Statement

_______ (years, Months) from now, (my company or group) will ___________________ (action or achievement) by ________________________. (how, where it will be done)

3. Passion

We all understand that passion denotes excitement and requires motivation. Yet, passion, according to Jackson, consists of those things that bring you joy and fulfillment while DOING them. Operating in passion, you experience a flow and effortlessness that makes it easy to stay the course. Dreams must be backed by actions, so passion ignites actions and helps sustain them.

4. Gifts

You must use the left side of your brain (the practical side) to develop concrete and logical steps to bring a vision to fruition.

Your gifts are those things that just come naturally to you and are not actually taught, they were deposited in you from God. According to Jackson, "If you did go to school to learn more about them, you probably excelled in them or you were bored because it came so easily to you. Gifts are sometimes challenging to identify because they are such a part of you." What gifts have God bestowed upon you, and how are you going to use your gifts to make a difference?

5. Talents

Your talent consists of those things you are naturally good at, but need to practice developing to perfect. Jackson would have us ask ourselves, "What are you good at, but need to be great at in order to effectively operate in your gifting?" Remember, you must be persistent and patient as you groom your talents to actuate the dream - blossoming doesn't come until the end of the work, and important, lasting visions require lots of time, sweat, and tears.

Jackson states, "Together, your gifts and talents create an additional dimension to understanding your specific Kingdom assignment."

6. Area of service

Vision vs. Mission Time. Consider these two words: visionary, missionary.
We certainly know what those two words mean. A visionary is someone who sees what is possible, who sees the potential. A missionary is someone who carries out that work. Mission brings vision to reality.

Your area of service is the particular target audience or group of people you were put here to serve. What is your special niche?

Jackson illustrates her point: "You are a Shepard. When you are a Shepard, your sheep recognize and respond to your voice and call. God has created you to oversee a flock that can only hear your voice. Who is your flock? Are they scattered all over the hillsides waiting for you to live your vision? Are they not being taken care of because you are in fear or are they tied up tending to the daily obligations that fill your calendar, but are not God’s purpose for you? Who were you born to serve? What does your FLOCK NEED?"

As you craft your mission statement, then, consider starting with your Vision Statement as the lead-in to your Mission Statement. Keep the Mission Statement simple, nor flowery or overblown. It should "fit on a t-shirt."

Mission Statement

Our vision is a community where ________________.  (the vision)  To bring that vision into reality, we do ______________________________ (work to be done and result of labor) for ________________ (purpose or reason for the labor) in the ___________ (place - region / area / township / etc.)

7. Calling

Your calling is your altitude. Your calling is the scope of your Kingdom assignment (within your child’s school, the city, state, region, nation or world). At this point Jackson warns, "Be careful not to confuse your calling with what you think it would be fun to do. Be careful not to covet someone else’s calling. If God did not drop that vision into your spirit, it is not for you. Focus on what God has shown you as your specific role."

You will be completely fulfilled carrying out your calling even though others may be doing similar work on a broader scale.

For being sure that your work will reflect the values you, and more importantly, all others (universal) want to see in your community, write a Values Statement. First, the Values Statement will look outside the organization, to the visionary outcomes you want to create for your community.

(a) What values will need to be present in the community for your vision to come to pass?
(b) What values would the community need to emphasize? What values would have to be the norm?

From there, your Values Statement will look inside, to see how your own work will model those values, to teach those values by example.

(a) How will your work reflect those values?
(b) How will you ensure you are modeling those values to the community?
(c) When you have a tough decision to make, will you always err on the side of those values?

These questions (and a thousand more lined up behind them) all pivot on values issues. Any discussion that focuses on the question, "What's more important - this, or that?" is a discussion of values. And without prior discussion of what values will guide decisions, each of these discussions has no context for the decision.

Values Examples

* The best decision will be the decision that provides the best end result for the highest number of our program participants and the communities they serve.

* We will favor decisions that create long term improvement for our communities over short term expediency for our group or the individuals and organizations we serve.

* Both our internal work and our work with individuals, organizations and communities will inspire and encourage cooperation.

* Our message must be positive, that we CAN make change. With a passionate optimistic message, we can change minds and move mountains.

* We can accomplish significant change if the whole community works together, focusing ALL the community's varied resources towards improving our community's quality of life. All the community must share ownership of our problems and our solutions.
All Together Now

A Mission Statement that tells what the organization does, while necessary, is incomplete. By adding the Vision Statement that explains why the organization is doing that work - where it is aiming - and the Values Statement explaining how the organization will do that work, you will have three solid tools to serve as a barometer, regardless of who is onboard at the time.

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