“Are you seeking great things for yourself? Don’t do it!” Jeremiah 45:5 (NLT)
I find myself cringing when I hear people say “You can be anything you set your heart to be.” It is not true. It sets people up for misguided lives fraught with unfulfilled expectations and disillusionment. I understand the reasoning behind such a statement, particularly when it is directed at children and youth. It is important to instill a dare to dream mentality and a can-do attitude in every human heart. But dreams, like everything in life have parameters and exacting conditions that are necessary for their fulfillment. And it is not just a matter of faith and hard work.
A more accurate statement to inspire young and old alike is to say “You can be anything God has created you to be.” That maxim acknowledges the requisite talents and motivations endued at birth. And it also takes into account the times and seasons in which a person is living and the necessity of divinely ordained opportunity.
Michael Jordan is a great illustration. In 1993Jordan retired as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, after leading the Chicago Bulls to three NBA championships. He quit basketball to pursue a lifelong dream of becoming a professional baseball player.
He spent two years bringing his well-documented dedication and intensity to baseball, but ended up being a journeyman player at best with a .252 batting average and never made it to the big leagues. He returned to the Bulls for the 1995-96 season and proceeded to lead the Bulls to another three-peat series of NBA championships.
What was the cause of the disparity in the outcome of Michael Jordan’s pursuit of two dream careers? Obviously the measure of inherent talent was one. Another was the contrast in experience and time for skill development. But an intangible may have been his chemistry with his teammates and his coach. Dream fulfillment is complicated business.
In the waning years leading up to the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 BC, Jeremiah the prophet was busy warning both the king and religious leaders of God’s impending judgments. He had a faithful scribe named Baruch to whom he dictated his prophecies and through whom a number of them were personally delivered.
Baruch, who’s name means “blessing” was hoping against hope that the recipients of these prophetic messages would repent and that his ministry would be successful. As a spokesperson for Jeremiah he had dreams and career aspirations of a position of influence in a reformed society. (Not unlike Jesus’ disciples.) It was not to be.
In what appears to be a parenthetical