Why Dreaming Big Might Be Your Big Problem

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You say I dream too big. I say you think too small.

Think big, dream big, believe big, and the results will be big.

Dream big. Pray bigger.

These are just a few of the quotes that filled my screen when I Googled “quotes about big dreams.”

Let me quickly say that I feel inspired by these quotes, and to some degree, they’re true. Because we’re daughters of a big God, we should dream big. But often the size of our dreams is exactly what stalls us out. We don’t embrace the truth that would propel us forward…

Everything big starts small.

A loaf of bread begins as a lump of dough.

An adult starts as a baby. (In fact, the whole process starts with even smaller bits!)

A giant oak tree begins as a tiny seed.

Big dreams starts out the same way-- as something tiny.

Sometimes the reason we’re stuck, unable to step into the big thing—the job we know we’re made for, the relationship for which we long, the calling that fills our heart—is that we’re overlooking the small opportunities that will move us forward. Instead of embracing a growth mindset that allows us to take one baby step after another to our destination, we’ve bought into a fixed mindset of how the big dream will be accomplished. We’re waiting to be discovered or to be promoted or to bump into a man on a white horse.

I’ve had a dream in my heart to do international ministry since I was twelve years old. The Big Dream began with visions of living in remote, foreign villages while bringing the transforming truths of Jesus. I just knew that I could change the world with God in me and the big smile on my face. Since then, I’ve made bucket lists that include sharing the Gospel on every continent. (Look out penguins in Antarctica. Here I come!) I’ve hoped and prayed and traveled.

But can I confess to you that it’s painful that this dream hasn’t come true in a way that fulfills my childhood fantasies?

If you feel the agony of inertia, I’m right there with you. Waiting is hard, but it’s not a time of total passivity. Instead, you and I can do what Jesus’ followers did centuries ago.

In Matthew 4, Jesus called his first disciples, Peter and Andrew, two brothers simply fishing. Little did that know that Jesus was calling them to a huge dream, bigger than either of them could imagine. Eventually, they would stand in front of thousands and preach. They’d be part of a team that brought the Gospel to the known world. In fact, they’d change the whole world forever.

But that’s not where they started. They didn’t leap instantly into their destiny. “’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said” (Matthew 4:19a), and they did. One small step after another, they moved toward the bigger dream.

That’s the same call Jesus issues to us, “Come, follow me.” What small step is He calling you to today? For me, it’s been tiny acts of obedience to follow--getting a passport, going on short-term mission trips, and supporting international ministries.

Long to live your one life well? Begin your big dream with your next small step of obedience.


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Amy Carroll is a sought-after speaker, the author of Breaking Up with Perfect, and a cohost for the podcast Grit 'n' Grace. She and her husband live in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

Cheri Gregory is a frequent speaker and the coauthor, with Kathi Lipp, of You Don't Have to Try So Hard and Overwhelmed. She's also a contributor to the upcoming (in)courage devotional Bible for women. She lives with her family on the central California coast.