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Category: Monticello College Comments: 8

The Importance of Being in Over YOUR HEAD

The following is an excerpt from the book  The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson.
I was eating lunch with a friend who has a PhD in leadership development.  I asked him, “Based on all your research and experience, what would you say is the most important secret to developing world-class leaders?”
He put his fork down.  “Well, it’s not a course, a lecture, or a book,” he said.  He then picked up his fork and started eating again.
His answer intrigued me.  I asked him to explain.
images (1)“The single best way to develop leaders,” he said, “is to take people out of their safe environment and away from the people they know, and throw them into a new arena they know little about. 
Way over their head, preferably.  
In fact, the more demanding their challenges, the more pressure and risk they face, the more likely a dynamic leader will emerge.”
At first his theory surprised me.  It sounded unsafe and unkind.  But on second thought, it reminded me of many of my own experiences in the Wasteland.
In Fact, God used a similar approach to raise-up a leader in the wilderness, on the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.
There’s just no way to get from Egypt to Canaan without traveling through a lot of Wasteland.  Even today, the Sinai Peninsula is one of the emptiest, bleakest places on earth.
images (2)Surviving in that kind of terrain changes you.
And the Israelites that entered the Promised Land were not the same weak-willed, complaining group that left Egypt.
For one thing, almost all of the slave-born generation had died.  Only a few remained.
After forty years, a new, desert-tested generation had grown up.
One man who saw it all from start to finish was Joshua.  During that time of trial and suffering (which he hadn’t asked for) and of endless delays (which he’d done nothing to deserve), Joshua matured.  He advanced from Moses’ assistant to spy and warrior and, finally, to the one person who was fully prepared to lead Israel after Moses’ death.
What had the desert years accomplished?  When Israel was finally about to leave the desert, Moses told the nation that God had allowed that experience to happen for an important reason: to test and reshape each person from the inside out.
The bottom line of every test in the Wasteland is this:  When God seems absent and everything is going wrong, will you still trust God enough to patiently allow Him to prepare you for what’s ahead?
I’ve noticed that the bigger the Dream, the longer the time of preparation.  Joseph spent years honing his leadership skills in prison (even though he was innocent) before he rose to rule all of Egypt.  David spent years hiding out in desert caves leading four hundred men who were in distress, in debt, or discontented before he was fully prepared to become king.
But like Joshua, Joseph and David passed the tests of the wilderness and emerged prepared for their Big Dreams.  And you can, too.
images (4)Just about every Dreamer I’ve talked to around the world who has entered the Wasteland is surprised to be there.  Why?
I’ve noticed a universal sequence of events.
After we break free of our inner obstacles – our Comfort Zone—and find a way around our outer obstacles—our Border Bullies—we’re ready for our Dream to happen.
In fact, we feel plenty tested already!  We think, like Ordinary, that our Dream is just around the corner.
But most times it isn’t.  Instead, we encounter a series of unexpected trials that never seem to end.  No one prepared us for this.  Delays and setbacks drag on.  Soon, disappointment sets in.  Eventually we begin to think we should abandon our Dream.
Does this sequence ring true in your experience?  What could the Dream Giver possibly be doing for our good with a plan like that?
I believe our unasked-for desert tests are a series of invitations to grow up–in our understanding of ourselves and of God, and in the strength of our faith in Him.
When the Dream Giver appeared to be “nowhere in sight,” Ordinary’s faith began to fade.  Before Ordinary could fight for his Dream and win, he needed to change on the inside-he needed to learn endurance and trust
The Wasteland does not happen because God isn’t paying attention, or because He’s angry at us.  It doesn’t happen because we have sinned (although we can lengthen our time there).
Instead, the Wasteland happens for a good and important reason:  It is an invaluable season of preparation.  It is the place where God transforms you into the person who can do your Dream.
The Wasteland is the Dream Giver’s loving gift to Dreamers with a future!

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Comments (8)

  • Bonnie Jones

    Exactly what I needed to hear today! I’m mucking about in the Wasteland. I feel a lot better knowing that’s what’s happening. 🙂 Thanks, Shanon!

    September 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm
  • Taylene

    Dr. Brooks:
    Thank you for this! It is exactly what I needed to hear! I have avoided the “wasteland” far too long out of fear. But now, I think I’ll take it over the safe, dull place of mediocrity!
    I’m definitely getting this book and reading it. Thanks again for your insight.

    September 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm
  • Tom

    Very interesting insight and I agree with it with the exception of “…throw them into a new arena they know little about.”
    Since this approach will work for a few people and potentially disasterous for many, I would think that strong encourgement, urging, and mentoring might be a more sucessful method. As a manager for many years, this approach seemed to work because most resist change and many are fearful. However, the overall message was right on and volunteering to experience the “wasteland” is a valuable lifelong lesson.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm
  • Sarah Coke

    Hi Shanon,
    We met several years ago when you came up to Alaska for a TJEd conference.
    This post is so very encouraging to me. My husband and I have been in over our heads deeply for the last few years, in the attempt to follow our dream.
    Thanks for posting this; we really appreciate it!

    September 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm
  • Raina Stump

    Thank you! This is just what I needed to hear! Submitting to God’s will is painful at times but also glorious. I’m learning that having joy in the journey, even going through the Wasteland is also something that is hard and stretches me but possible and needed.

    September 10, 2013 at 5:49 pm
  • Melissa

    This inspired message that you have shared with us today was a very, very direct answer to some very specific prayers this day! I am grateful for the time you took to post this. It has given fuel to a sputtering motor! Thank you!

    September 10, 2013 at 6:17 pm
  • Stacy

    I have been hearing this message over and over again…. I KNOW this is true! I love this article. One of my favorites hands down. It can be so tough day in and day out in our own wasteland, but man! to be able to come out alive and better because of it!… I’ll take it! 🙂 Thank you Shanon!

    September 11, 2013 at 10:02 pm
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