Jentezen Franklin - Be Great Before It's Too Late
Today, I want to talk about "Be Great Before It's Too Late". I want to speak specifically on the subject of greatness because he talks about in a great house there are vessels of honor and dishonor, vessels that are great and some that are not great. Great house, being in a great house does not make you great. It's one thing to have great parents, but that doesn't make you great. It's one thing to work for a great company, corporation that's great, but that doesn't mean you're great because you're in that house or that great corporation or that great church or that great family that you're a member of. You're either adding to the greatness of that family or you're diminishing it. And it said it's possible to be in a great house, but you not be great, you not be gold, you not even be silver, you not be brass, you just be dirt or clay.
So being in a great house does not ensure that you will become great. We shouldn't look at people on levels of greatness, some people say, but I would remind you that Jesus did. Jesus compared people and said some people are great and some people are not. He said of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:11, referring to John, He said, "John the Baptist of men born of women, he is the greatest". On another occasion, in Matthew 18, the disciples came to Jesus and they said, "Who will be greatest in Your kingdom," and Jesus said, "Except you become converted and repent".
Notice two things. You repent. That's giving your heart to Christ. But then, you have to be converted. And converted is the renewing of the mind. It's, it takes some time to be converted. You repent instantly and you're forgiven, but the conversion, those who go on from repentance to conversion, the turning away from and the turning into what God has called you and purposed you to be. And He said that when you become humble as a little child, you can be great. So I made a list of things that greatness is not; and this is a real simple message, but I want to give you what greatness is not and then a few things that greatness is... How many of you sense that there's greatness in you? It's not egotistical to say that, but how many of you believe that there's greatness in you?
And let me tell you what greatness is not. Number one, greatness is not inherited. It's not the result of birth, in other words. You cannot inherit greatness. You can be born high and live low, or you can be born low but you can still live high. Your greatness is not determined by your pedigree or the family that you are born into. Your parents can be great and you can be a dummy, or you can be born into a family where your father and mother were terrible, less than great people and you can become great. You can't be great because of people who gave birth to you. You can't be eliminated from greatness because of people who gave birth to you. Greatness is not inherited.
Secondly, greatness is not income. A lot of people think that wealth makes you great. But it's a lot of wealthy people who are not great people. On the other hand, poverty is equated to greatness in a lot of people; that if they have nothing, they must be great. And neither one is true. You're not great because you're poor. You're not great because you're rich. You're not greatness - Your greatness is not based upon your income. It's not based upon inheritance. Greatness is not talent.
Now, this is very important, so listen. Greatness is not talent. There are some people who are good at doing, but they're not good at being. We see this all the time in fields like athletics and stuff. They're great, they're talented, they're great at doing something, but they're not great at being someone. And talent is not greatness. They do something great, but they're not great. I don't just want to do something great. I want to be a great person; a great father, a great husband, a great pastor, a great preacher. I don't want to just do that; I want to be it. There's a difference between doing something great and being great.
Let me give you another one. Greatness is not popularity. It's not how many Twitter followers you have. It's not how many Instagram people you have. How many of you know some of the celebrities have millions and millions, but they're not great because of their popularity? Never sacrifice greatness for popularity. If you get busy worrying about does everybody know how good I am and how great I am, you'll sacrifice your greatness for popularity. Greatness just does what it does and people discover the greatness, they see it in you.
Greatness is not cheap. Greatness will cost you something. Greatness will cost you something, not somebody else. It'll cost you something. It's going to cost you some time. It's going to cost you some energy. It's going to cost you some sacrifice. It's going to cost you some resources. It's going to cost you some hours of your life, laying down, paying the price, going the extra mile, doing what other people are not willing to do. Greatness is not cheap. Greatness always costs more. That's why there's not many people who achieve greatness. They're not willing to pay the price.
Greatness is not immediate. This is so important. In other words, greatness takes time to develop. You can't just run in your room and come out great. You can't just go to church one Sunday and expect to be great because you went to the altar and prayed and you got all kinds of stuff going on but you prayed and now I'm supposed to be a great Christian. It doesn't work that way. You can repent instantly, but the conversion's going to take a while. And greatness is not immediate. Greatness takes some time.
When I first started playing the saxophone, my daddy said I sounded like a wild goose dying. I would squeak. That horn is - It's a woodwind instrument. It's very hard. And if you, any of you who've been through band with your kids, it's awful. Those beginning years, whether it's a trumpet or a - They all sound the same. It's just - You're listening to that and you think, "They don't have the talent. It's not there". And I thought about how that when I was in college, I had students that I taught saxophone to that, you know, gave me extra money, and so I had several days where I'd have three and four hours back to back, 30 minute lessons. And those students would come through and many times they were nine, ten, 11 years old, little bitty kids.
I think some of 'em didn't practice the lesson I gave 'em until they came back that week on the spot there, 'cause they had not improved at all. And I would listen some days for four hours to squeaky squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak. And I was thinking about that this week, how that greatness is not immediate. You have to go through the squeaky phase with anything. Some of you, your marriage is not great yet and you're about ready to give up on it. You're just in the squeaky phase. Greatness is not immediate. You've got to stay with it. you've got to stay at it. you've got to keep working on it. We give up too quickly.
Greatness is not common. Greatness is not something that you see a lot. It distinguishes you from the crowd. It makes you stick out when you become great. Greatness does not have to have the approval of everyone. And if you are the kind of person that will have to have the approval of everyone and understanding of everyone, you'll never achieve greatness. Greatness is uncommon. Greatness takes tremendous focus. It takes decisions that you make and you can't always have everybody approving of what you know you're supposed to do. You cannot have the approval of everyone and be great. And the sooner you understand that, the sooner you'll do great in life. You're always going to live your life at the lowest common denominator of your friends if you don't watch it. And the more you get involved, people - You get a bunch of people in the room and you start out with an idea like this and they'll keep bringing it down to the common denominator that's down here somewhere and you begin to compromise and lose the force of greatness in your life.
No one can be great by living below their potential. Somebody else can be great doing the same thing you're doing because for them, that's great. But if you're not giving it all that you have, all that you, the talent that you have to achieve it, then that's not greatness for you, even though someone else can be doing it, and for them, that's great. But for you, it's almost effortless; therefore, you're not living at a level of greatness because you're not living at the fullness of your potential. You can't believe one way and live another way and be great. Greatness is living what you believe and living up to your potential.
Now, listen. Hidden greatness is usually revealed during hardships. Usually you will not discover greatness in a person until they go through hardship. The hardship, the crisis that brings greatness out of people, the hard places reveal hidden greatness. Hidden greatness will get in trouble and rise to the occasion. That's when you start seeing greatness. It's not - Watch what people do in trouble. Watch what people do in crisis. And if they fold up, there's no greatness there. But if there's greatness there, it'll come out in the hard places. There's something inside, an internal reservoir, that won't lie down and stay down and whine and call their most three defeated friends and have a pity party. But there's something about a person that when the waters get troubled and all hell's breaking loose, greatness will step up to the crisis. People are not born great. They discover greatness through hardships.
Now, here's what you have to do to be great. Number one, you have to be teachable. The Bible said in Proverbs, "A fool despises instructions". Everybody say this out loud, I must be teachable or I will never be great. If you're a know it all, if you are somebody who doesn't listen to wisdom, if you're somebody who's got to argue with wisdom all the time and have it your way, you'll never achieve greatness. The Bible talks about a fool despises instructions. You learn in life the lessons of life two ways, mentors or mistakes. And when you've got people like parents and family and grandparents that have lived life a long time, been around it all, seen it all, and they're mentoring you, you're either going to listen to those mentors or you're going to live and make mistakes sometimes that will set you back ten, 15 years; or you can listen to that advice and it can catapult you to a place of greatness.
It's up to you. But you must be teachable to be great. You never come to a place that you cease from learning. Great people never stop learning. People who are very skilled at what they do, they still want to learn. "How do I get better? How do I get better"? One of the qualities of greatness is it's always wanting to get better, wanting to learn more, wanting - People who are not good are not open to instruction. The Bible said the Lord, in Isaiah, will give us the tongue of the learned, but it also goes on to say He'll give you the ear of the learned. Morning by morning, He wakens your ear to hear. And if you will ask God, He will help you to become great by being teachable and learning, continual learning, morning by morning.
To be great, you have to be able to receive correction. You have to be able to be told, "You're not doing this right". And you have to be able to be told that with a good attitude. Keep a good attitude when you're told that. Most people had rather you pat them on the head than tell them they're great. They'd rather tell them that they're great than have you correct them, I should say. Receiving correction is not hearing it. Receiving correction is receiving it. Listening to it and walking away and mumbling under your breath after you've been given correction is not receiving correction. Touch somebody and say, "Everybody needs some correction". Come on. Just touch 'em. Say, "Everybody" Come on.
You know they need it. We don't like correction, because, it causes your soul to feel bad, and that's a kind way of saying, "it hurts your feelings". But, we've gotta learn how to receive correction without getting our feelings hurt. You know, you give correction to people, and next thing you know they get with their friends, and tell how bad they'd been done, start a small group, oh. How bad we've all been done... Do you know how many people are struggling because they had nobody to correct them? Do you know how many people are in prison today 'cause they didn't have a daddy that would correct them? Do you know how many churches and ministries have been dwarfed because they wouldn't listen to the correction? When we get it and we hear it, we ought to receive it.
And sometimes, God will require of you to take your Isaac, your gift, your talent and lay it on the altar and be willing for it to die. Your singing ability, your preaching ability, or whatever it is that God's gifted you to do, lay it on the altar and say, "God, kill it if You have to. I want to be great in Your eyes". That's greatness to God. That stuff matters to God. And receiving correction. Greatness, listen, is a tool, not a weapon. Have you ever noticed that some people, if they achieve greatness, can God trust you with greatness? Will you use it as a weapon against all the people who said you couldn't and beat the living daylights out of 'em with your greatness when you get it? What do you mean? You can't. If you put some people over the water cooler, they start requiring a doctor's note to get water because... You put 'em over the pencils and suddenly they've got a list of rules and they like to, "I'm over the pencils".
You ever met people like that? You can't put 'em over nothing 'cause it goes to their head and they get crazy. If you were all of a sudden great, how would it be on the people around you? Would they be able to stand you? Would you be humble? Would you use your greatness as a weapon, or would you use it to bless? David, the Bible said, became king of Israel, the greatest king of Israel. And when he reached his place of greatness, he didn't use his greatness as a weapon against all of the enemies that had fought him on the way up, but he said, "Is there anyone of the household of Saul". Who was Saul? The man who tried to destroy him. And he said, "Is there anyone of his household that I can bless"? That's greatness.
Joseph, when he got to the right hand of the king, of Pharaoh and was put over all the corn of Egypt and all the food in the world, he didn't use that greatness as a weapon against his own family and against the butler and the baker and all the people who had done him wrong and thrown him into prison. he didn't use his greatness as a weapon. He used it as a tool to bless people. And that's when you know there's greatness is when you can look at the people that tried to stop you, and when you're in that place of greatness and you can turn around and say, "I have nothing against - Matter of fact, I'm going to bless my enemies. As a matter of fact, you meant it for my evil, but God meant it for my God and He used it to bring out of the hardships greatness in me, for His glory".
You're not great until you release greatness into someone else. The ability to recognize and relate, to see someone and release greatness in them and through them is a true characteristic of greatness. And if you're not careful, you'll minimize and try to equalize. But one of the greatest things you can do is find someone and pour it into them. That's a sign of greatness. The ability to maintain honor is a characteristic of greatness. Honor your father and your mother. You can see the humanness in others, but you can maintain the honor. That's a great thing. And so, today, I couldn't help but think that God wants greatness to come out of us. But it takes a humility to handle greatness. Can God trust you with greatness? Can God take you from where you are to places you've never dreamed you could go and do things that you never imagined you could do?
It's unlimited what God can do in your life. I don't care who you are, listening to me right now. God says, "I have a place of greatness". Your greatness is not someone else's greatness. And in a great house - Here's the deal. In a great house... we're in a great house today... there's vessels of honor and dishonor, there's vessels of dirt and there's vessels of gold. And God says, "The ones that I can trust greatness with in the great house are the ones who will purge themselves, cleanse themselves, set themselves aside and say, "God, I want to be great for You. I want You to touch my life with Your grace and I want to see greatness break forth in my life for the glory of my King".
Something inside of every person doesn't want to be mediocre, average, get by, but they want to be great. And there's nothing wrong with that. But you can't do it without God. He's the source of greatness. Going across this room today is the call to greatness. He's not calling you to average. He's not calling you to be common. He's not calling you to be normal. He's not calling you to settle for low things, normal things, average things. He's calling you today to greatness. Will you be a vessel of honor? Can God trust you today with greatness and you use it to bless others? And then turn around and pour it back into others? If so, He'll make you great. He'll make your name great. He told Abraham, "You will be great and I'll make your name great". Isn't that powerful?
God has the power to do it. He raises one up. He pulls another down. He can do it. Will you submit your life to Him? I want to be very specific. I feel in my heart that there are many people who are running from a call to greatness because you're not an honorable vessel right now. The truth is, you're living a life and you know you're not living for Christ. You talk the talk, but you don't walk the walk. And when you get off with your little friends, you just think you're going - It'll just go worse until you get enough of Jesus for yourself to say, "I'm going to be great. No matter what environment I'm put in, I'm His vessel of honor".
"Pastor, I want you to pray for me. Today, I feel a call to greatness. I've known for a long time I was born for something greater than what I'm doing, but sin and the enemy has sidetracked me and I would love to surrender my life to Jesus Christ today. I've been looking for a chance to change, and I want to give Him my life today. Would you pray for me"? I will pray for you; and Jesus will touch you today, if you'll invite Him in. "Pastor, pray for me. I want to receive His great mercy, grace, and forgiveness". You'll never be great until you get the greater One on the inside of you. Greater is He that is in you - That's what's missing in your life. "Pastor, pray for me. I want to get right with God today". If that's you, Pray right now.
Lord Jesus, I surrender my life to You. I believe You died on the cross. It was a great cross that You carried to Calvary. And You nailed my sins, everything I've ever thought, everything I've ever done, everything that I have ever sinned, You nailed it to the cross. And I just want to thank You that I'll never face the judgment for what I did because You have forgiven me and I put my faith in You and Your blood cleanses me from all of my sins. I'm not a vessel of dirt. I'm a vessel of gold. I have great value because of what You did for me. And today, I receive Your honor, I receive Your grace, I receive Your forgiveness. And today, I thank You that You're releasing into me a spirit of greatness. I will be great before it's too late. And God, I thank You for greater One that lives in me, Jesus Christ.
Now, lift your hands high and let's praise Him just a minute. We've got to rejoice over this. I see tears. I see people broken. I see miracles happening. I see people being set free. Lord, fill them. Fill these vessels of honor with the Holy Spirit and set them free from every addiction and every bondage, in Jesus mighty name.