Dreams are powerful. Dreams and those who dream them can change cultures, redirect nations and move mountains. Dreams animate our hearts with passionate energy, spur us to action, and offer the hope that a better future is not only possible but imperative. Dreams are the images of our passion overlaid on the future. Dreams and vision are important for our lives.
In the context of coaching, dreams can be defined as “pictures of the future we hope to live in someday.” They are snapshots of what we desire life to look like.
Since goals are a big part of coaching, it is helpful to clearly distinguish between dreams and goals. A goal is an end that you have committed to accomplishing. Dreams simply look at the future and say, “This is what I wish for.” Dreams and vision are important in setting goals.
A dream becomes a goal when you commit to reaching in within a certain time frame. But part of the power of dreams is that you don’t have to have practical plans to reach them. You don’t have to be committed to making a dream happen—it is simply a picture of what the future might look like if it is in accord with your desires. The fact that we don’t have to have a realistic plan frees us to imagine what we really want, instead of being bound by what we feel is possible.
“Vision” is another term that gets confused with dreams. A vision is a dream-goal that reaches out to capture others to work for its fulfillment. It is a visual picture of a desired future that a visionary has committed to make happen by bringing others on board to help. That means a visionary has no business recruiting people to a vision if he is not personally committed to seeing it through. If your visions are simply ideas for a neat future, you are a dreamer, not a visionary. The currency of dreams is hope; visions run instead on faith, the substance of things hoped for. So you see dreams and vision are related yet different.
If a vision is truly from God, it exists to bring into being the greatest of the three, agape love. A biblical vision is a picture of a future God passionately desires and calls us to reach. Therefore, Biblical visionaries are not vision-owners whom others serve to get the Kingdom work done: they are bondservants to God’s desires for the sake of others. So if you hear a leader say something like, “You are here to serve my vision,” run in the opposite direction. That’s a leader who is most likely building a personal empire, not the Kingdom of God.
A pioneer in Christian leadership coaching, Tony Stoltzfus has trained thousands of coaches, founded several leadership- and coaching schools and created a wide range of leadership resources used around the world.