Encouraging the people in our lives to fulfill our vision for them is not doing them any favors.

chrysalis butterfly transformation

Do you know any true visionaries? They are few and far between in our world. It is an impressive gift to be able to see with clarity what could be and then know with certainty that it should be and then cast a vision with such passion that people believe it will be. Very few of us are gifted in that way. Thankfully, when it comes to encouraging friends and family toward the wonderful possibilities in their lives, we don’t have to be visionaries. In fact, it is probably best that we are not. Here’s why…

Despite all the clichés about leopards and spots and people never changing, people can and actually do often change. Not always. But often. Genuine transformation really is possible in people’s lives. There are people you knew in high school that have undergone (or will undergo) radical physical, emotional or spiritual transformation in their lives, rendering them almost unrecognizable 10 years later. And in many of those cases, NOBODY saw the change coming back in high school.

This reality is especially true when the transformation is spiritual in nature. When the God who created the universe with all its variety and diversity transforms someone, there simply is no predicting the final product. It really is a caterpillar-to-butterfly kind of thing. The transformation of which God is possible defies our wildest imagination. Scripture says it this way:

You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant. You could never guess what a tomato would look like by looking at a tomato seed. What we plant in the soil and what grows out of it don’t look anything alike. 1 Corinthians 15:37 (The Message)

And so, learning to encourage a friend or family member toward the possibilities before them, is much less about your specific vision for them and much more about cheering them toward a variety of wonderful possibilities. Helping our children grow up into a God-ordained calling is not about them fulfilling our vision for them. Rather, it is about helping them move toward the God whose vision for them matters most. We can either push them to become what our own imagination can muster for them, or we can encourage them to grow into God’s vision for them, which is way, way better than ours.

In a way, it makes us feel a little sorry for those true visionaries in the world. After all, if they work and achieve what they were able to envision on their own (without God), then they may well have missed out on achieving much greater visions with God. And when it comes to the important relationships in our lives, we can either help them achieve our own vision for them, or we can help them achieve God’s vision for them. The difference is large.

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