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Big Dreams: From Boys to Men

By Kenny Luck – Every little boy has a dream of one day doing something great.  But by the time that boy becomes a man he will likely feel disillusioned by the mundane details and failures of everyday life.  In his new book, Dream, author Kenny Luck turns a common misconception about God’s vision for our lives on its head. 

“Reality says that 5 percent of life is extremely satisfying.  Another 5 percent is extremely disappointing,” says Luck.  “The rest—the other 90 percent—is just life, plain peanut butter and jelly.  Many men think their dreams and the glory that goes with them reside somewhere else, far away from the peanut butter-and-jelly life.  In Africa maybe.  But the truth is that God’s dream for us is not something we chaseIt’s something we become.” 

He recently discussed the book.

Dream encourages men to “reside in the glory of their reality.”  How does this idea challenge popular thinking about God’s vision for our lives?

By the millions, we see men running from their realities into alternate ones of their own making.  There doesn’t seem to be the courage and character to meet the demands of reality, so we try to find significance and satisfaction from other sources—take your pick:  careers, relationships and pursuits outside of our families, fantasy, hobbies and sport, and other assorted diversions.  Diversions from what?  The realities that require us to be more than what we have become—to change into someone different.  THAT, for millions of men, is too scary.  And yet, THAT is God’s desire: that we morph as men to meet the demands of our realities versus run from our realities and, in the process, become lesser men.

In Dream, you compare men and their dreams to the magma of a volcano.  Could you explain this metaphor?

Men and magma.  It’s so perfect.  Here’s why.  First, the magma of a volcano is a superheated substance and force seeking its way to the surface.  All geologists know it’s down there in every living but dormant volcano.  Second, it percolates and bubbles for years, decades, or even centuries in the heart of the volcano as it waits for its geological debut.  Third, it represents the energy, color, and dangerous potential of a volcano.  (Why do you think there are careers in volcanology?)  Fourth, it is a beautiful display when the right geological forces coalesce into an eruption—a bright orange spectacle.  Fifth, if the volcano erupts and the magma actually comes out, it changes the landscape forever. 

The dreams of men are like that magma.  They are deep inside, pushing from within, longing for expression, rare in experience, and when they surface—for better or for worse—they impact everyone in our blast zones

Describe the evolution that occurs as we release the dreams we have made for ourselves and embrace God’s dream for us.

Visions of being someone great and doing something great morph over the years.

When we are young we think we can be anything and do anything—just ask a little boy.  Boyhood fantasy gives way to a little reality and our dreams morph again.  We go from wanting to be Batman and Superman to wanting to be an astronaut or pro athlete.  That was me.  Then the dreams morph again, this time they are tempered by the harsher realities of earth—losses, hurts, struggles, economic, or family trauma.  Easier dreams to come by often prevail here … like simply escaping the downsides of earth and our losses.

This is where a lot of men get stuck.  They fashion their dreams as a response to their losses in life and most aren’t even aware that their pursuits reflect their broken manhood.  The hardest part of this is that there is a lot of positive reinforcement in culture telling men that they are right on track even though deep down they know something’s wrong.  We get a sense that something is wrong when our dream starts causing our relationships with God and people to fragment or begins to control our lives in unhealthy ways.  The thought we have is: “My dream is intact but my life is disintegrating.  So is this really the dream?”  That’s when most men will exchange their reality for another fantasy that doesn’t satisfy or seek deeper answers because they are tired of the pain.

How did God use your experience as the leader of a cancer support group to reveal a glimpse of reality through His glasses?

It was simply a shock to my system of belief and practice.  You can’t candycoat cancer, death, grief, and loss.  It exposed me and my faith for what it was—sanctified and shallow.  It didn’t work there.  My vision and God’s vision of a real man collided in that group every week.  You could say that I was beautifully ruined by God.  He let me see the true riches of relationship, see the most important truths of the faith applied, and see how hard realities like this are the best revealer of his visions in my life.  That was a paradigm shift for a guy who liked to rewrite reality to make myself or others feel better.  I had to become someone totally different to negotiate those meetings and to help people. 

You say in your book, “God’s Dream for our lives is not something we chase, it’s something we become.”  How did you reach that conclusion?  What significance does that have for a man’s journey through life?

Men define themselves by what they do.  That makes us chase things—careers, trophies, skirts, prizes, significance, etc.  Each successful chase has a set of connected behaviors that help us achieve the dream.  We are driven by external actions which lead to visible external results and rewards.  We engage the spiritual process in the same way which will, in the end, leave us empty and frustrated because the prize, in God’s mind, is something spiritual and internal not external.  It’s a process not a product.

The Bible is clear about God’s DREAM for every believer and it’s not something you chase externally.  God’s dream for every believer is that we conform and transform more into the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:29, II Corinthians 3:18, I Corinthians 15:4, Colossians 3:9-11).  That’s an internal and spiritual work which has everything to do with morphing our characters first, changing our thought processes and perceptions of reality, addressing our defects of the heart, and reordering them properly in Christ through the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

That’s the vision and process.  The problem for most men is that this vision and process takes too long, is too hard, and is too uncomfortable so we create our own spiritual vision and process which is less work, more like what we know, and doesn’t require new character.

Why is it so difficult for men to accept and surrender to God’s process?

Because it means painful exploratory and corrective surgeries of the heart and character.  It means ownership of what is revealed.  It means brutal honesty and self examination which requires substantial amounts of humility and faith.  It’s true spiritual warfare.  Fear and pride do not surrender their beachheads in our lives easily.  They are dug in.  To win more of Christ in our character and transform into his likeness, a man has to swallow big and decide to take some well fortified and fiercely guarded issues within.

The biggie is exchanging his vision of himself for God’s.

Discuss the importance of sacrifice for the man seeking God’s dream.

This aspect of Jesus’ character, a willingness to give up his own comfort and agenda for something greater, is the high watermark of Christlikeness.  And since Christlikeness is God’s dream for every man, we will never know what it means to be great until we sacrifice our comfort and agenda for God’s.  This is what I call a man’s turning hour in his spiritual journey, where he goes against his feelings, fears, and comfort to secure the blessing and purpose of God in his life.  We see the model for this process in a man’s life in the Garden of Gethsemane…a full surrender in the midst of conflicting emotions and desires which sought to sabotage Jesus being truly great and doing something truly great for others.

You have written a workbook to accompany Dream.  What was your purpose in doing this?

After doing men’s ministry for over twenty years, you quickly discover that men become men in the company of other men.  We pull greatness out of each other and stretch one another.  The difference between reading this book on your own versus going through the book and workbook in the company of other men is like the gap in quality between a frozen hamburger patty and a filet mignon—one’s gonna cost you more but there is no comparison.  Information without application is hallucination.  That’s what makes the workbook so important.  Going through the workbook translates the desires of a man into real actions in the context of real relationships. 

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.  You strongly encourage men to imitate Jesus Christ.  Why is Jesus the consummate man?

He is what defines a true hero.  In the arena, fighting for a worthy cause, his face covered in blood, daring greatly, free to love God and love people aggressively.  Like Lewis says of Aslan in Narnia, good AND dangerous at the same time.  That’s what every man wants to be whether he is in touch with that or not.

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Kenny Luck currently serves as the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and is also the founder and president of Every Man Ministries which helps churches worldwide develop and grow healthy men’s communities.  He is a graduate of UCLA where he met his wife Chrissy.  They have three children, Cara, Ryan, and Jenna, and live in Trabuco Canyon, California.

Interview courtesy of The B&B Media Group.


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