Commentary: For The Sake Of The Call – Dreams vs Calling

Commentary: For The Sake Of The Call – Dreams vs Calling

Phil Vischer, the co-creator of the wildy popular VeggieTales franchise, recently addressed in World Magazine what he saw as his own mistake in how he approached the message within the children’s series. In his own words:

I looked back at the previous 10 years and realized I had spent 10 years trying to convince kids to behave Christianly without actually teaching them Christianity. And that was a pretty serious conviction. You can say, ‘Hey kids, be more forgiving because the Bible says so,’ or, ‘Hey kids, be more kind because the Bible says so!’ But that isn’t Christianity, it’s morality.

While he does have a valid point (and any future gospel songwriters would be wise to heed his warning, as well), Vischer goes on to address what he saw as his own downfall – following his own dream…

American Christian[s]… are drinking a cocktail that’s a mix of the Protestant work ethic, the American dream, and the gospel. And we’ve intertwined them so completely that we can’t tell them apart anymore. Our gospel has become a gospel of following your dreams and being good so God will make all your dreams come true. […] I mean, we walk away from marriages to follow our dreams. We abandon children to follow our dreams. We hurt people in the name of our dreams, which as a Christian is just preposterous.

Those final sentences really struck a chord with me, as it goes along quite strongly with an article I wrote recently regarding the divorce rate among gospel artists “for the sake of the call.” In my article, I touched briefly on the concept of some gospel artists seeking less of a ministry and more of fame and recognition. Vischer actually puts the two together with his analysis, to the point where it’s difficult to differentiate the two.

Again, I’m not pointing any fingers here. As I said in my previous commentary, there are indeed artists who are seeking to follow God in a genuine ministry, often with much sacrifice. The problem arises when we start chasing our own dreams and aspirations and begin calling them God’s will. “Well, God allowed me to pursue my dream, so it must be His calling on my life!”

Vischer found out the hard way that just because we have dreams (and follow them), there’s not always a pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. Despite the immense success of VeggieTales, Big Idea (Vischer’s production company) wound up in bankruptcy, and ultimately he lost both control and ownership of his creations. Everything he’d worked for in his adult life was taken away from him, despite his belief that God was allowing him to follow his dream.

Today, Vischer freely admits that he made a mistake when it came to pursuing a dream. In fact, in assessing the downfall of Big Idea, he points to a mission statement from 1997 that stated a goal of becoming “a top 4 family media brand within 20 years.” In his own words, it was “[a] statement that, even at the time, I was pretty sure had emanated suspiciously rom my own noggin…as opposed to from God after much prayer and reflection.”

Ironically, part of what led to the downfall of Big Idea was their feature-length theater release, Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. Like the prophet Jonah, Vischer had his own “big ideas” about where to take his company. And like Jonah, he was set straight through some rather harsh corrective measures.

The question I pose (both in my previous entry and now) is this: how many gospel artists today are simply following their own dream rather than what God has truly called them to do? And if that is the case, are they prepared for the consequences when God finally turns them around?

Kyle Boreing

Kyle has been writing for MusicScribe since 2008. He is a gospel music soloist, occasional quartet singer, and church music director who pays way too much attention to recordings. He is an alumni of Stamps-Baxter School of Music and has shared the stage with artists such as Mercy's Mark, the Dove Brothers Band, and The Oak Ridge Boys. Visit his website at www.kyleboreing.com, or follow him on Twitter @kyleboreing.

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3 Comments

  1. Scotty Ray Searan
    Reply September 22, 20:35 #1 Scotty Ray Searan

    I am on Christian musician. I love to sing. I am also a Preacher (God-called). I have pastored a church. I have sang in some groups.

    I have and had a dream of being a successful Preacher and musician.

    I had to face some tough decisions in my life. Everyone has. We make them and accept the consequences.

    My father taught me long ago. To put God first in your life. That being said I didn’t put God first in all my decisions.

    When a person says they are being called into the singing ministry or the preaching of the Gospel. Being a single person will benefit the calls greatly.

    If a person who is married are having such dreams, they must remember that taking care of the family is first in this life.

    1 Cor. 7:32-34

    1 Tim. 3:1-7

    1 Tim. 5:8

    Many a person, as you stated went after their dreams and did not follow these scriptures.

    Let’s take a look at the Southern Gospel industry.

    Was it started as a ministry? For the most part I don’t think so.

    I believe that the groups were working for the Song Book Publishers as a job, not as a ministry. Though I do believe that maybe some were involved in ministry.

    What about the Al-nite sings & concerts. The concept was not created as a ministry, Even though there may be some that used it as a ministry. God is not in the competitor business, which most concerts are.

    Do I go to them? Yes. But I have seen very few ministering concerts. Sometimes I wonder if the feeling that we feel is the real annointing of the Holy Spirit. God could be using despite our human frailties.

    I will point out that one of the innovators of Al-nite sings was a very big crook.. I will call not names.

    Also there have been a lot of pastors take advantage of singing groups to. I know that for a fact. There are crooked pastors..

    So keep on dreaming, but if you’re a Christian, God has ways of making the dream come true or ways for you to satisfied with what is in your hand. Moses rod did not look like like much, but it work when used according to God’s plan.




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  2. yankeegospelgirl
    Reply September 25, 17:41 #2 yankeegospelgirl

    It’s very important for people to seek the counsel of wise friends who understand the craft, yet also have their best interests at heart. If those kinds of friends are taking an aspiring artist aside and saying, “This pursuit isn’t right for you,” they should listen to that warning instead of persisting in the belief that God has called them to this and that’s all there is to it. Perhaps God is speaking through those friends.




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  3. Sony Elise
    Reply September 27, 14:12 #3 Sony Elise

    The title of this post caught my attention, as I used to try to explain the difference to my sisters. My dream since I was a teenager was to be a singer but I fully believe I am doing what God has called me to do. God has, in fact, fulfilled my dreams but I didn’t know they were my dreams at the start. I have the blessing of traveling all over the country with my brother, who is a church and conference speaker. I handle his bookings, make sure he knows where he needs to be on any given night, and I run the product table. I am not behind the scenes necessarily because I like being there but there is satisfaction in knowing that my job makes my brother’s job easier. He may be more known but his job is no more important than mine. (Yes, I have to remind myself of this quite a bit.) I also edit on the side. I love my work. I love working with family. I’m blessed with a family that loves me, as well as others that God has put in my life to encourage me when I need it, and I hope I’m an encouragement back to them. I believe I am living my calling and, honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for any other dream I’ve had.




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