Sometimes when we achieve the things we strive for, we find they’re not very fulfilling. As we look back we realize that our greatest joy was not in the goal we reached, but in the growth we experienced on the way to it. Scientist Koichi Tanaka describes this phenomenon and how it can come about during the enjoyable pursuit of a dream. As he worked on trying to create an ion with lasers, he says: “I failed for weeks and months before I succeeded in making an ion. Why did I continue the experiment? Because I enjoyed it. It was fun for me to come to know something that I had never known before, and that fun enabled me to persist.” That persistence helped him to win a Nobel Peace prize in chemistry. You have the potential to make many wonderful discoveries in life, and none greater than what you discover about God, and yourself.
One leadership expert writes: “The pursuit of my dream has taken me out of my comfort zone, elevated my thinking, given me confidence, and confirmed my sense of purpose. My pursuit of the dream and my personal growth have become so intertwined that I now ask myself, ‘Did I make the dream, or did the dream make me?’ When your mind accepts a new idea or learns a new truth, it’s forever changed. And once stretched, it takes on a new shape and never goes back to its original form. When that happens, you experience true fulfillment. No wonder children’s book author Elizabeth Coatsworth said, ‘When I dream, I am ageless.”
Jacques Cousteau, the famous French explorer, said, “If a man for whatever reason has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.” Jesus lived that way. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11 NKJV). To be like Him, you must live for something greater than your own interests. In his book Half Time: Changing Your Game Plan from success to significance, author Bob Buford says, “The first half of life has to do with getting and gaining, learning and earning. The second half is more risky because it has to do with living beyond the immediate.” By that he means living for a cause that is greater than yourself, and for others beyond yourself. The greater men and women of Scripture were not great because of what they earned and owned; they were great because they gave themselves to people, and causes that lived beyond them. There dream was to do something that benefited others. Only a rare minority of people are able to hold closely to their dream to make a difference, and are willing to give up everything to make that dream come true. Of people like that it will never be said that when they died, it was as though they had never lived. Their dream lives on after them, because they lived for others. And it was in living in for others and not for self that they found their greatest joy and fulfillment. The poet wrote: “Others, Lord, yes others; Let this my motto be. Help me to live for others, that I may live for Thee.”