This Sunday, September 30, Dave’s latest book,Mistakes Leaders Make, comes out. In it, he catalogs 10 mistakes, while closing with a suggested list of what the next 10 mistakes would be. Curious, we asked him about these “Vol. 2” mistakes, and he was happy to oblige. This post is the first of this mini three-part series from him on three of those “other” mistakes.


We make a mistake when we allow discouragement to replace dreaming.

It is noteworthy that in the middle of a chapter on shepherding and leadership in 1 Peter 5, we find this: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (v. 8).

Satan is after leaders first and foremost. Leaders are his prime targets.

The devil has many tools in his bag of tricks: sexual temptation, financial greed, pride, for starters. When he can’t trip us up with obvious and blatant temptations, he will throw something more subtle our way, like discouragement.


When a strong dose of discouragement afflicts our soul, it can quickly dampen or curtail any adventurous dreams God may give us. Discouragement rains on our dreaming parade.

Joseph received a God-given vision (dream), but his brothers were the devil’s emissaries to discourage him. Nehemiah also had a God-given vision (dream): a clear sense of what God wanted him to do for Jerusalem. He also had more than his share of detractors from within and from without. So did Moses, so did Paul . . . so did a lot of God’s leaders, maybe most of them. Start being discouraged, and soon you may stop following the dream God gave you regarding what he desires to do through you.

My wife, Susan, and I spent eight years in Sweden with the Navigators. During our second four-year assignment there, I was hit with a strong season of discouragement. In my mind, I purchased my ticket home numerous times. Then I got very sick and things went from bad to worse. I had never been sicker or been in more pain. My thoughts and outlook went very bleak. The enemy had me against the ropes. My imagination went to dark places.

What was I doing here? Did I really think I had anything to offer? What about my awful past? Could Jesus really use a sinful, fearful, shameful person like me? Who was I kidding?

When discouragement set in, dreaming went out the proverbial window. I lost all hope, lost track of the promises of God that had led us to Sweden in the first place.

One day when I was as low as I have ever been, God met me and encouraged me through 2 Chronicles 15:7: “But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work will be rewarded.” The heaviness lifted, the clouds dissipated, the joy came back. Grace won out over discouragement. The enemy was defeated.

Run to the cross. Remember the resurrection.

This was the first of many times Jesus defeated the enemy of discouragement in my life and got me on the dreaming pathway again. Some of those times took longer than others. It usually boils down to having my value and worth in Jesus and in nothing else or no one else.

Here are some of the things that can still open the door for discouragement in my life:

  • When I am criticized
  • When I am tired and on the edge of exhaustion
  • When I am misunderstood
  • When my expectations are dashed and not realized . . . according to my time-table

What about you? Has discouragement replaced dreaming in your life? Does the evil one have you in the corner as he pounds you with his lies? You’re no good. You don’t have what it takes. God will never forgive you for____. Again, these are lies.

Run to the cross.

Remember the resurrection.

Rejoice in the promises he made to you.

Embrace Jesus’ victory over discouragement.

Begin again to follow the dream he’s given you!



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