Listening to the Right Voices
Every December, like most children in America, I looked forward to Christmas. I loved everything about the season: setting up the tree, decorating the house, dropping hints about gifts I wanted and, of course, watching the Christmas specials on television. Back then no one owned them on DVD, so we had to check the TV Guide to make sure not to miss the classics like Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and It’s a Wonderful Life. One of my all-time favorites was the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Little did I know that Charles Schultz’s dream for the Charlie Brown Special was almost squelched because of some well-positioned dream breakers.
When the special was in the last stages of production, the network executives began to express concern. Typical of dream breakers, they saw the problems instead of the possibilities. They complained about choppy animation, poor sound quality and the lack of what was then an industry standard––a laugh track. Charles Schultz believed the audience should laugh when they wanted to and did not need to be prompted. The producer’s main concern, which they felt guaranteed the program’s failure, was Linus’s now-famous rendition of the Christmas story.
The dream breakers were convinced they would lose ratings and corporate sponsors because Americans would not want to spend their prime time listening to a cartoon character quoting the King James Version of the Bible. In response to these dream breakers, Charles Schultz, in typical dream maker fashion, responded, “If we don’t tell them the real meaning of Christmas, who will?”
The CBS executives were looking to make money, not change lives. Fortunately for every child who has watched the Charlie Brown Christmas Special, Charles Schultz saw something greater than just a cartoon. He saw the possibility of impacting a nation. The scene of Linus telling the true story of Christmas was voted by TV Guide as one of the top 100 scenes in television history. On the night it aired, most of the nation watched that special. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special has won more awards and accolades than any other.
All of us will face dream breakers. Dream breakers are not always bad people. I’ll bet most of the CBS executives who were opposed to Charles Schultz at the time can now look back and see their mistake. All of us, at one time or another, have been a little off track and said words that could shatter dreams. What causes good people to break dreams? Pride, ego, jealousy, negativity and a need for control can all cause good people to become dream breakers.
Charles Schultz never lost his focus in the midst of some very powerful negative voices. His determination to tell the story of Christmas in a simple yet profound way literally made history. Your focus will determine what you listen to. I see people who live a life so far below their potential because they are listening to voices that have broken their dreams. They stay in jobs and under leaders who impress to oppress. These leaders are never happy, it’s never good enough, and they are never for anybody but themselves.
At some point we have to realize that there are always going to be people who are not for us, no matter how hard we try. We have to shake it off and refocus. Don’t chase after people who pull you down; chase after people who build you up. Choose to be around people who want to know your dreams so you can dream together. If we settle or accept our lot in life, we will never reach higher than the status quo.
In their song “Meant to Live,” by the band Switchfoot, the lead singer screams the chorus, “We were meant to live for so much more . . . have we lost ourselves?”1 Have you ever found yourself just going through the motions and not living in all that God has for you? After years of trying to please others, sometimes we give up and stop living in our true identity and purpose. We lose the identity and purpose that God gives us when we try to gain the acceptance of others. It’s always a mistake to try and make the dream breakers happy instead of seeking to please the One who gave us the dream. Dream breakers can take the form of bosses, parents, negative friends and even pastors.
When we dig down deep and ask God what we are meant to do, we discover our true identity. Our focus shifts from pleasing those who refuse to be pleased, to pleasing the One who already loves us and wants the best for us. When we find our identity as a person and leader in God, we are not as concerned about pleasing dream breakers. Dream breakers are not interested in your life; they are interested in their agenda. You do not have to settle, as a leader, for anything but God’s best. You do not have to accept what people say about you when God is for you. You can listen to a million voices or tune into an audience of One.