July 16


To Dream or Not to Dream

By Tresta Neil

Called to Learn, Curiosity, Principles, Record Keeping, Teaching, Word Study

Dream Big!” the gurus tell you.

After attending a seminar where they spoke of dreaming big, they brought out the latest cars, phones, and other new electronics. I went home confused. Why was everyone pushing big dreams? Why did all of that “stuff” matter? I had gotten my hopes up with many different ventures only to see them crash. I soon decided (it sadly, took me years) that dreaming was not for me. Getting my hopes up, planning all these wonderful trips to just to have them all shot down. I was tired and stopped dreaming. 

Recently, James Ritchie, a mentor of mine, sent me an email all about the importance of “Dreaming Big!” All my concerns about dreaming came back. I was confused. I couldn’t understand how he, a man of high moral character, would promote dreaming.  You see, I had convinced myself that dreaming was bad. 

I decided it was time I confronted my beliefs and asked him, “Is there any proof in the scriptures about ‘Dreaming Big?’” His response sent me on a long research journey through the scriptures. I was determined to find proof for or against - instead - I found both! 

You know when you ask a question God sends you on a journey and you start seeing answers everywhere? This was no exception. I heard, “dream” in two of my favorite show tunes songs, “To Dream the Impossible Dream” and “Over the Rainbow.” Again, as we sang a patriotic hymn during home church, ‘America The Beautiful.’ The lyrics, “May God thy gold refine,Till all success be nobleness, And every gain divine!” Implies dreaming, right? 

Then I heard an audio book talk about the importance of giving yourself challenges and wondered if that was like dreaming.

I knew that I needed to ask a question to get my engine (mind) moving so God could steer me in the right direction. 

I asked, “What is dreaming?” 

I knew I needed to ponder more on what he’d already given me, so He could give me more. 

I pondered what it meant to dream big.

Through Brother Ritchie’s response I received a new definition. To Dream Big is goal setting, developing ideas, strengthening a good attitude. It is not wishful hoping (for “stuff”) and it is not without work (God always requires a sacrifice). 

The next question, “Is it found in the scriptures?” 

Through my husband God suggested I study my hero, Abraham. Sure enough, he did Dream Big!


  1. Sought to preside in the priesthood (Abraham 1:2-4)
  2. He desired to be a father of many nations and a prince of peace (Abraham 1:2)
  3. He desired greater knowledge, to be a recorder of all records - a prophet (Abraham 1:2, 31)

Are not these Big Dreams? Have you ever desired big things like this?

As a youth in seminary I remember saying, “I want to be strong enough to be an apostles wife.” I knew they didn’t get to see their husbands very often and they were ridiculed by the world and not very known. My response was shunned, I was teased the rest of the year for being a “Molly Mormon”, for wanting high standing in the church. I never shared my dreams again (more on this later). 

I wonder if Abraham ever shared his dreams? Did he get teased for Dreaming Big? Did Abraham get what he dreamed? 

Yes! He received them all, however, many of these desires were not realized until late in life (he was “old”) and into the next life. He was patient with the Lord. He never used the excuse of being too old or too tired or worn out.

Abraham had no extended family, no settled home, no posterity, no church throughout his whole life - and then - he had it all!  

Remember, I found evidence of dreaming big and how not to dream big in the scriptures? Here is how NOT to Dream Big:  

Alma dreamed to be an angel “to cry repentance” and “declare” the “plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.” That’s a Big Dream! Yet, in the next verse he says he “sin[s] is [his] wish.” He explains that he does not want the “glory of [him]self, but [to] glory in that which the Lord hath commanded [him].” Alma desired to be “an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance.” Through his and the sons of Mosiah’s mission his big dream did come true. “I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.” (Alma 29:10)

New question, “What am I to learn from this? What am I to DO with this insight, with these two examples?” How would you answer these questions?

For me, Abraham pushes me! He is the Father of nations, the prince of peace, he understood how to Dream Big. Alma also desired big things, but he knew, he couldn’t go beyond what God wanted for him and he became content, even found great joy, in what the Lord was giving him. 

My take aways:

  • A new definition of “Dream Big” - It is thinking about what God wants you to accomplish in this life time. It is a powerful brainstorming activity to help you see the bigger picture of what God has in store for you. It means having high standards for your life and setting the bar high for you and God to accomplish His goals. It is NOT going beyond the mark of what God asks of us. It is NOT wishful hoping for things of this world that will not further God’s work. 
  • An action - to spend more time with God learning what He wants me to do in His plan. To spend more time pondering the revelation He gives me. To hear, hearken, and heed what He shows me. To challenge myself more, have make monthly and quarterly mini goals to keep myself motivated in dreaming big for the Lord.

How about you? How will you dream for the Lord? 

With Increasing Light and Learning, 

Tresta Neil

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