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Joel Osteen — Appreciate the People in Your Life


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I want to talk to you today about appreciating the people in your life. There are people around you that are making you look good, people that are using their gifts to make your life easier, people that are going out of their way, making sacrifices so you can accomplish your dreams. None of us got to where we are on our own. The more you give credit to others, the more God will bless you.

The scripture says, "Humble yourself, and God will exalt you". "I didn't get here by myself. I had awesome parents. I have an amazing wife. I've had friends that have believed in me". There's no such thing as a self made person. Even before we were born, doctors, nurses, medical staff. When we arrived, our parents, grandparents made great sacrifices to make sure we were taken care of.

We've all had friends, coaches, teachers, mentors that went the extra and then there are people that we might not think much about. They're in the shadows, but they make our life easier. We sleep better at night knowing the police officers are out patrolling. Our streets stay clean because the trash collectors come by twice a week. The grocery store shelves have just what we need because the young man keeps them stocked.

Your life is easier because somebody is serving. Somebody is investing in you. My question is are you thanking them? Are you telling them how you appreciate it, expressing your gratitude? Look good is because I have a lot of people that make me look good. I have an incredible staff, an amazing family, fantastic friends. I am quick to give them the credit.

My suit is pressed and clean today because my friend, Sam, who owns a clothing unless he first presses it. I tell him, "Sam, I've only worn it once since you pressed it last time". "Doesn't matter. Bring it over here. I want it to look perfect". The funny thing is I don't even take it to him.

My friend, Johnny, comes by the house, gets my suit, takes it to Sam's, goes back and picks it up. I stand up and look nice, but I realize it didn't happen by myself. I've got Sam. I've got Johnny, plus I didn't even pick out my suit. Victoria did. It took three people to get me in this suit. No wonder I look so good.

Don't take for granted the people that are making your life easier. Be generous with your thanks. Take time to express appreciation. Write a note. Send a text. Or the old fashioned way, pick up the telephone. "Hey, I want to tell you how much you mean to me. Thank you for making me look good".

Those simple words will go further than when you acknowledge their sacrifice, their input, their talent, it builds when they know you know they're making you look good, you realize they're making your life easier, they'll want to do even more.

See, people have no problem helping you succeed. They have no problem making your life easier as long as you give them the proper credit. As long as you acknowledge their contribution, they'll bend over backwards to help you go further. But the reason many people get stuck is they start taking people for granted. They become proud and think, "I did this on my own. Look how talented I am. Look how good my no, it says there in proverbs, "Pride goes before a fall".

One reason is, when you acknowledge those that have helped you, your team becomes weak. Lack of thanks erodes loyalty. When you don't appreciate people, they don't want to help you. They're not going to go out of their way to try to make you look good as long as you're taking all the credit.

Now, be more aware of who's making your life easier. That neighbor that swings by your house, takes your son to ball practice, make sure they know how much you appreciate them. Have them over for dinner sometime. Give them a gift certificate to go out to eat. Express your thanks. That co-worker that goes out of their way to teach you, to share what they know, take time to thank them. On a regular basis, "Hey, I appreciate you sowing into my life.

I realize you don't our children wouldn't be very smart if we didn't have great teachers and principals and coaches and educators that give their life to teach and educate them. Have you thanked those teachers lately? They're investing into your children.

I was at the hospital visiting a man a while back, and I couldn't help but notice all the doctors, nurses, hospital staff, how kind, caring, loving, this nurse came in the room with a hot towel, started rubbing this man's feet and massaging them. When she left, I said, "I didn't know you had a problem with your feet". He said, "I don't, but she comes in and does that every hour because she knows it makes me feel better". Don't take for granted the people that are making you feel better, making you look better, making you live better.

Captain Charles Plumb was a navy fighter pilot in vietnam. He flew 75 successful combat missions, but on number 76, his plane was hit by a surface to air missile and exploded. Somehow, he was able to the ground where he was captured by the enemy forces. After spending six years in a Vietnamese prison, he was released to come back to the United States, where he went on to live many years later, he was in a restaurant with his wife, and this man came up and said, "I know who you are. You're captain Charles Plumb. You flew fighter jets off the U.S. Kitty Hawk in Vietnam.

I remember when you got shot down, and you had to parachute to the ground". Captain Plumb was amazed that he knew so many details. He said, "Who are you, and how do you know all that"? He said, "I was in the navy, a sailor on that same ship where you would take off from. I was the one that packed your parachute".

Captain Plumb got up and gave him a big hug, and they talked and reminisced for a few minutes. Then they said goodbye that night, captain Plumb couldn't sleep. He kept thinking about the man he had met in the restaurant. He wondered what he might have looked like years ago in a sailor uniform. He thought about how many times he must have passed him on the ship and never acknowledged him, never said, "Hello. Good morning. How are you"?

See, captain Plumb was a fighter pilot. He was at the top everyone looked up to him. This other man, nothing wrong with him. He was fine, but he was a sailor. He wasn't at captain Plumb's same level, so, back then, captain Plumb didn't give him the time of day.

Now, it grated on his conscience. He thought about all the lonely hours that sailor must have spent in the hull of the ship, carefully sewing the fabric together, making sure the parachute was just right, then folding it perfectly, going to great lengths to make sure it was as precise as could be, knowing that somebody's life could depend on it.

Now, captain Plumb has a new appreciation for this man. He goes around the world asking people, "Who's packing your parachute? Who's behind the scenes making you look good? Who's making your life easier"? Like captain Plumb, are you walking by people every day at the house, at the office, at the school, and you don't realize how instrumental they are in your life?

They seem kind of insignificant, but if you didn't have them, if they didn't do a good job, if they weren't there, your life would be don't see them as secondary. You didn't get here by yourself. All along the way, people have been packing your parachute.

Have you told your parents lately thank you for all that they did? They got up early in the morning to make you breakfast. They ran you to ball practice, made sure you had what you needed, stayed up late to help you do your homework. They didn't do it because they had to. They did it because they love you, because they want your life to be better than theirs. Have you told your mom lately, "Hey, mom, thanks for packing my parachute. Hey, dad, thanks for making me better".

You say, "Joel, my parents didn't raise me right. They didn't do this. They should have done more of that". I'm not saying they were perfect. They probably made mistakes. We all have, but keep it in perspective. Your mother changed your diaper, fed you when you were hungry, kept you warm when you were cold, stayed up all night when you didn't feel well. The good far outweighs the bad. You wouldn't be where you are if she didn't make sacrifices.

Take time to thank those that have made you better. I know people that are at odds with their parents, not speaking, at odds with the people that raised them. But I've found, when you humble yourself and say thank you, healing takes place. When you appreciate people, relationships can be restored. You've got to quit focusing on everything they did wrong and find something they did right. "Hey, mom. Hey, dad, thanks for investing in me".

Get in this habit of appreciating the tell that cousin, that uncle that took you under his wing how much he means to you. Tell that friend that's always watching after you, "Thanks for your friendship. I am so blessed that God put every one of us has people that are packing our parachutes.

Look around this week. Who's helped make you into who you are? Who's been there to comfort you in a time of loss? Who encourages you when you're down? Who can you count on when nobody else is around? Those are some of the people that are packing your parachute.

Years ago, my brother, Paul, went through a very difficult time in his life. He was the chief of surgery at the hospital. His medical profession was booming, but his personal life was falling apart. His marriage didn't make it. It was a few days before Christmas. He was so heartbroken, so devastated.

To make matters worse, that Christmas, he couldn't come home to be with our family because of his work schedule. He was at his home, alone in another state, and like most men, to try to bury the pain, he went out in the backyard, and he started a project, hammering and sawing away.

His next door neighbor came over and asked Paul innocently what he was going to do for Christmas. He knew nothing about what was going on, and Paul made some kind of excuse, saying that he had plans. But that made the loneliness even greater. As he was out there hammering away, feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders, thoughts telling him, "You're a failure. Nobody even cares about you. You're never going to be happy again," he heard the gate to the backyard open.

He looked over and saw the ups man coming around the corner, handed Paul a package. It was a box of chocolates sent to him from my sister, Tamara. The note read, "Paul, we love you and miss you so much. Can't wait to see you soon". Paul said those chocolates were one of the greatest Christmas gifts he had ever received. What was Tamara doing? Packing his parachute.

Every one of us has people in our life like that, that have been there in a time of need, a family member, a friend, a co-worker. When everybody else was too busy, they were the ones to stop by and encourage us. They were the ones that took time to mail the box of chocolates. They went out of their way to make sure we were okay. Don't take them for granted. Tell them how much you love them, how much you value their friendship.

You and I are winning today because somebody helped us to win. Somebody packed in the scripture, Joshua and his men were out fighting a battle, and they were having great success, defeating the enemy. Everything was going perfect, but what Joshua didn't realize is he was winning because Moses was up on a hill, and as long as Moses had his hands in the air, Joshua would win. When Moses got tired, Aaron and Hur came over and helped him hold his hands in the air.

Now, Joshua is winning because of three other people that he can't see. People that are behind the scenes are making a difference. Could it be, like Joshua, there are people that we're not aware of, people that we're not paying attention to that are helping us to win? We don't realize we're winning because our grandmother's praying for us every day. Thank her for packing your parachute. We're being blessed because our spouse is making great sacrifices, taking care of children, never complaining, never putting pressure on us so that we can accomplish our dreams. Don't take them for granted. Thank them for helping you to win.

A year or so after my father died and I started ministering, I sat down one day and wrote about 15 thank you letters to ministers that I had grown up with, the Haagans, the Copelands, the Sevilles, the Deplannises, the Shambaughs. These were people that came through Lakewood on a regular basis when I was younger, friends of our family, and I never dreamed that I would be a minister one day.

When I would prepare my sermons, I realized how much they had impacted me and what great examples they had been. I didn't know at the time, but they were packing my parachute. They were investing in me. Now, I'm winning because they helped me to win. Take time to thank the people that have made you better.

My friend, Bink, drives over from Austin every sunday morning, two and a half hours, to adjust these cameras. He's the best there is, in demand all over. He doesn't have to come. He's got plenty of work. Plus he's had his hip replaced, doesn't get around like he used to, but every sunday, as faithful as can be, there's bink, making me look good, packing my parachute, helping me to win.

I realize there were people in this facility hours before the first service, making sure the lights were adjusted, the sound was perfect, the building was the right temperature. Thank you to the technicians. Thank you to the building engineers.

Before Jonathan learned how to drive, some sundays, he needed to be at church early. I would bring him at 7 in the morning, an hour and a half I was always so amazed when I pulled up to see hundreds of volunteers streaming in from the parking lot on their day off, 7:00 in the morning, nobody's paying them. We didn't beg them to do it. They're doing it because they love God, and they want to help other people to win.

Our ushers seat thousands of people every weekend. The head ushers will come to the early service and study the parking lot so they can get prepared how to seat people for the 11:00 service. I'm winning because somebody's making me look good. Somebody's packing my parachute. Now, I'm going to do my part to thank them and tell them how much I value what they're doing.

Let's don't be like captain Plumb and overlook the very people that are keeping it all together, the ones that are with us day in and day out, making our lives better. Thank you to all the incredible volunteers at Lakewood. What an amazing job you do. Sometimes I get the credit, but I know, like with Joshua, like with Moses, I'm winning because you're holding up my hands. You're giving. You're serving. You're coming early. You're volunteering.

Friends, our lives have been divinely linked together. I can't write my life story without including you. You can't write yours without including me. God connected us together proverbs says, "As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another". Thank you for making me sharper. Thank you for making me better. Thank you for believing in me, for praying for me, for being here each week, for watching each week. See, learn to express your appreciation. A lot of times, we feel appreciation.

We think, "Wow, I love them. They're amazing. They mean the world to me," but here's the key. Nobody knows what you're thinking. Your thoughts don't bless anybody. I can think all day long how much I love you, how much I value you, but love is not love until it's expressed, until it's given away. You've got to pick up the phone, tell them, "Hey, you mean the world to me. I'm thinking about you," or go give them a hug. Buy them dinner. Do something to express that love.

I stand down here during the praise and worship, the first part of our services, and so often, I think these worship leaders we have are fantastic. Steve, D'Adra, Cindy, Israel, they are second to none. When they sing, they give me goose bumps, but I have to remind myself what I'm telling you. My thoughts aren't blessing them. They don't know what I'm thinking, so, every month or so, I'll send them a text, "You are amazing. You are anointed. Thanks for being a part of our team".

See, learn to give flowers while people are still living. Don't wait till somebody dies before you decide to tell them how much they mean to you. I've been to a lot of funerals, and I hear so many great things, and I always think, "I wish this person was still here to hear what's being said". Listen, if you've got something good to say about me, say it now. Say it while I'm alive. If you've got something bad, wait till I'm dead.

Earlier this year, we were in Chicago at the White Sox baseball stadium, preparing to have a night of hope. The first person we met in the parking lot was a gentleman named Joe. We drove in a couple of months before our event, and it was a little bit cold, rainy, windy, but there was Joe, waving us in, big smile, happy as could be. I didn't think much about it, just a friendly parking lot attendant.

We went back three or four times before our event, Joe was there, greeting us the same say, happy, friendly. When we left the night of hope late saturday night, driving out of the stadium, the last one I saw waving goodbye to us with a big smile was Joe.

2006, the Chicago White Sox won the world series. Normally, just the coaches and the players get the world championship ring that's so valuable. Sometimes higher level staff will get a less expensive version of the ring, but Mr. Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the White Sox, a fine gentleman, he understands this principle. He knows who's packing his parachute.

It's not just the players, just the coaches, the people out front. He knows the behind the scenes people are making him a winner as well, and he gave the most expensive world series championship ring to every parking lot attendant, every ticket taker, everyone everyone that ran the building, from the most important to the seemingly least important. He was saying, "I realize who's making this team great. Now, no wonder Joe is out there with a smile every day, giving it his best. He knows he's not seen as secondary. He's not just filling a position. He's appreciated by the owner.

Today Joe wears his championship ring. When you value people, they'll go the extra mile. You and I may not own a professional sports team, but we all have people that are making our life better, people that are making our life easier. They're the behind the scenes people. They're the people that assist you at the office. They pick up your children at school when you're too busy. They mow the lawn. They wash your clothes. They press your suit.

Make sure you're giving them the championship ring. Make sure they know how much you value and appreciate what they're doing. They're packing your parachute. Don't just pass by them and never say thank you. They're in the hull of the ship, so to speak, behind the scenes, keeping it all together. Be generous with your thanks. Really, this appreciation should start in our own home with our own family.

Sometimes we take for granted the people that are helping us the most. That's why I always give credit, give honor to my mother. I realize I'm reaping many of the seeds that she's sown down through the years. I wouldn't be half of who I am today Victoria has not only packed my parachute. She pushed me out of the plane. She encouraged me to take big steps of faith.

Our two children, Jonathan and Alexandra, travel with us everywhere we go. They never complain, always have an smile. I don't take that for granted. That are instrumental in running the ministry. Don and Kevin are incredible at what they do. I'm winning today because they're helping me to win.

My sister, Lisa, has worked at the ministry when my father was alive, she used to sit behind my dad in the services, and she would always remind daddy of what he needed to announce. She would keep him up to speed on everything that's going on. Lisa's very organized, very efficient. Two weeks I was sitting in his chair, about to go up and minister. Lisa was behind me. She leaned over to whisper something in my ear like she had done with my father all that time.

When she leaned back, she heard God speak something to her, not out loud but right down in here. He said, "Lisa, just as you've served your father all these years, now, you are to serve your brother". The last 12 years, Lisa's been an incredible friend, an incredible support, an amazing bible teacher.

When my dad died, my brother, Paul, as you know, gave up his medical practice to come back and help us pastor the church. He told my mother, "Joel used to be just my younger brother, but now, he's my pastor as well". You wouldn't think that I'd make fun of him so much, don't take for granted the people that are closest to you. Here's your assignment this week.

As you go out, identify who's making your life better. Who's packing your parachute? Identify who's helping you to win, and then number two, very important, don't just think about it. Write them a note. Call them and take them out to dinner. Pick up the phone. Tell them how much they mean to you. When you take time to appreciate the people in your life, they will be more loyal. They will do a better job. Plus, you will feel rewarded.

There's a satisfaction that comes from lifting others up. When you express love, the other person is blessed, and your own life will be enriched. Remember, none of us got to where we are on our own. If you'll develop this habit of appreciating the people in your life, you'll not only have better relationships, not only enjoy your life more, but you'll go further. And I believe and declare, you'll become everything that God's created you to be, amen?
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