There is an obvious and important distinction between the two. If we were looking for someone to do a job for us—put in a new sidewalk, or repair our furnace, or put in a new kitchen—we wouldn’t be looking for a dreamer. We would seek out a DOER, someone who would take the job and DO it. The dreamer might give us a beautiful sketch and a lot of dreamy ideals, but we wouldn’t see them as meeting our need. We want the job DONE.
Sooner rather than later.
Where does the thought of being doers take us in Scripture? I’m sure you are with us in turning to the little book of James. As someone has said, James never leaves you wondering what he said. As soon as you hear him, you know.
This passage is about the man who looked in the mirror and saw what he was, but didn’t act on it. He was somewhat comfortable with what he saw.
James 1:22 22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Picture the man standing in front of the mirror, saying to himself, “I think I’m a pretty good looking fellow, don’t you think so? A spot or two, but I’m not all that bad!”
What did James say about that man?
James 1:23–24 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
The “hearer” is the dreamer! But he isn’t alone in James’ illustration. There is another one who also looked at himself in the mirror:
James 1:25 25But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
The dreamer promptly FORGETS what he saw; the DOER acts on it.
The dreamer FORGETS his dirty face. The DOER gets his cloth and WASHES it.
This distinction between doers and dreamers was made recently by a man who is highly respected in the business community. Warren Buffett, at age 90, is still giving advice so realistic that, as someone has said, it makes you mumble to yourself, “why didn’t I think of that?”
His down to earth thinking is not only legendary but in agreement with the simple yet profound realities of life. Even the Christian life.
What can we glean from Mr. Buffett’s advice? Below are four statements. All common sense, yes. But to many of us these points still need to be converted to common practice. Until that happens, WE are the dreamers!
Not until we ACT on them with positive intent do we show that we believe them, and that they actually work.
They are useless until we use them, showing that WE are DOERS, not DREAMERS.
Mr. Buffett’s first point of advice to separate DOERS from DREAMERS is:
Point #1: Pick your friends wisely.
We don’t need Mr. Buffett to tell us this. Let’s hear from the apostle Paul first. Paul says regarding as master more than a friend, but the same is true of each. The New English Bible says it well.
Romans 6:16 (NEB) 16You know well enough that if you put yourselves at the disposal of a master, to obey him, you are slaves of the master whom you obey; and this is true whether you serve sin, with death as its result; or obedience, with righteousness as its result.
Our associate – our attachment – our “master” MAKES us what we are. It is the all but irresistible power of influence.
A condensed wording of Mr. Warren’s point is:
Pick your friends wisely, because you will move in the direction of the people you associate with. Associate with people who are better than yourself, because the friends you have will form you. Be sure your friends are people that you admire as well as like.”
Didn’t the great Apostle do exactly that? He could not afford friends who would pull him away from His calling. He was constantly inspiring others to follow him. His first friend was Jesus, and that is why he would say,
1 Corinthians 11:1 1Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
In other words, copy me as I copy my friend Jesus Christ! He could also say:
Philippians 4:9 9The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Mr. Buffett’s second point of advice for doers is:
Point #2: Go to bed a little smarter each day.
In other words, LEARN SOMETHING every day. Don’t stay where you are.
It is the key to your success, go to bed a little smarter. That is how knowledge builds up, Like compound interest.
What is the underlying key? It is what you choose to read. Choose the BEST.
Can’t we say that as part of our Christian resolve? We go where we take our minds, our minds go toward what we read. Or observe. Or ponder. Plant the good seed, and it will grow. But it must be good seed. Because whatever we plant WILL grow. Mr. Buffett says:
Make reading a part of your daily routine. Whether you think you have time for it is largely irrelevant. If you want to improve your life on a daily basis, you will find the time.
Do you recall the first set of virtues in Brother Nichols’ general letter? It is exactly this:
Human nature is weak and needs stimulating. It requires reading, daily reading of the Word, careful meditation, prayerful self-criticism…
It starts with READING. It was what Paul advised as the direct route to understanding:
Ephesians 3:4 4by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),
It is the beginning of Jesus’ message in Revelations:
Revelation 1:3 3Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.
We read to learn, to refresh, to meditate, to remember.
Mr. Buffett’s third point is:
Point #3: Improve your communication skills.
Here is our duty to one another: exhort one another, encourage one another, strengthen one another, help one another. It is ALL about communications with one another! There is no other way. Take it from Hebrews;
Hebrews 10:24–25 24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Take it from Romans 12:
Romans 12:9–10 9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
How could we do any of these without communicating?
How can we have love that is without hypocrisy? Isn’t it about doing what we have promised, making our LIFE match what we profess to be?
Then “abhor” evil and “cling to” the good.
It all comes down to DOING:
Romans 12:11–12 11not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
It doesn’t matter if it is email, or phone, or one-to-one (which is limited at the moment), but DO it. Don’t just THINK about it. Remember this is separating the DOERS from the DREAMERS; those who INTEND from those who actually make it happen.
Then there is a point #4:
Point #4: Say NO.
Of course Mr. Buffett doesn’t tell anyone what to say NO to, that is for US to line up with our commitments, our loyalties, our loves.
But he says:
I learned long ago that the greatest commodity of all is TIME.
We all know how easily time is spent, lost, or squandered. Mr. Buffett said he decided early that he had to set boundaries for himself. That’s why this quote remains a powerful life lesson:
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say NO to almost everything.
For us as Christians aspiring to LIFE eternal, it means saying NO over and over again to anything that does not push us toward our goal, saying NO to the unimportant things that fly in our direction every day, to keep focused on the FEW things that truly matter.
What could be MORE important. This is why Paul said,
Ephesians 5:15–16 15See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Or as phrased in the New English Bible:
Ephesians 5:15–16 (NEB) 15Be most careful then how you conduct yourselves: like sensible men, not like simpletons. 16Use the present opportunity to the full, for these are evil days.
How we use our time will determine whether we are a DREAMER or a DOER.
Our time—these ordinary days and hours—are priceless! It is the only currency we have to purchase ETERNITY!