What comes to mind when you hear the word dreamcatcher? I immediately picture the over-commercialized relic of Native American culture. They are found in southwestern gift shops, dangling from earlobes, hung around necks as jewelry, and printed on t-shirts. It is said that dreamcatchers spread amongst Native American tribes as intermarriage occurred, thus becoming a symbol of unity among Native Americans. These dreamcatchers are quite enchanting in beauty and origin.
Ojibwe legend tells the story of the Spider Woman, Asibikaasi. Asibikaasi took care of Ojibwe children and people of the land. It became more and more difficult for her to take care of the little ones as the people spread across North America. So the women began to weave magical looms for the children that would filter nightmares out. Only good dreams were believed to be caught, drift down the feathers, and fill sleeping children’s minds.
Though I have never owned a dreamcatcher, I cannot help but find parallel between its purpose and my purpose as a leader. Catching a God given dream and filtering it down to those entrusted to my care is the essence of leadership. While dreams are caught, the art of casting the dream is taught.
During the North Texas District Council I had the privilege of having dinner with Pastors Elwyn and Regina Johnston, whom I regard as mentors in my life. I seized the moment to be taught how to better cast God dreams. I asked them, in essence, “How can I be an effective dreamcatcher who cultivates catchers of the dream?”
What I heard them share with me was this:
- TAKE A TRIP TO EXPERIENCE IT.
Invite those you lead to partake in an experience similar to what you dream. Words can only carry us so far, and they offer limited clarity. Experience ignites the soul. Before you expect others to adopt a dream as their own, allow them to experience the dream in action.
- GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT.
Discovery happens when exploration is engaged, and every great exploration begins with great questions. Let your trip companions lead the experience, and let your questions lead them.
- SEIZE THE MOMENT.
Do not miss divine opportunities. Chances are that your people will begin to ask great questions, dream out loud, and see glimmers of the Promised Land! Often leaders are afraid to seize those moments for momentum because we fear being pushy.
It is much worse to watch a spark fizzle out than to fan the flame with gusto.
- INNOVATION IS THE PRODUCT OF EXPERIMENTATION.
A failed experiment does not equate to failure or a bad idea. Do not be afraid to experiment with ideas until you discover the right fit. Dreams are clarified through time, hard work, and experimentation. Create a culture and value of experimentation to learn what works best; that is where innovation is revealed.
(dreamcatcher image, creative commons, Lara)