Joel Osteen — Be a Barrier Breaker
I want to talk to you today about "Being a barrier breaker". So often we let our environment, how we were raised, people's expectations of us, we adapt to what's around us. If you take an oak tree seed and plant it in a 2-foot pot, that oak tree will never become what it was created to be. Not because there's something wrong with the seed but because of the environment that it's in.
It's easy to just fit in, go with the crowd and be like everyone else, but God didn't create you to be average. He created you to stand out, to go beyond the norm, to leave your mark on this generation. You have seeds of greatness on the inside. You're supposed to go further than the people that raised you. You're supposed to live better, be more successful, set a new standard, and you may be in an environment where people have addictions, low self-esteem, depression, poverty.
You can't stop that but here's the key. Don't let that become normal in your thinking. If you accept that as who you are, it will keep you from your destiny. The scripture talks about how we are in the world but we you may be in a limited environment but you don't have to be of it. Don't let that environment get in you. If you see struggle, lack, poverty, long enough your mind can become conditioned to think, "This is who I am. I'll always struggle. I'll never have enough". That's not who you are, and that may be what's been normal.
The good news: you're a barrier breaker. You have the power, the favor, the talent, the ability, to break out, to go further. God breathed his life into you. He calls you the head and not the tail. Don't let your mind become conditioned for mediocrity. Don't let that change who you really are.
Sometimes people will try to put us in a box, tell us things like, "You can't start that business. You don't have the resources. You'll never afford a nice place to live, never get well, never meet the right person". Because their thinking is limited, they'll try to put their limitations on you.
You have to put your foot down and say, "I refuse to be mediocre because people around me are mediocre. I refuse to be addicted, depressed, have low expectation. I know I'm a barrier breaker. I'm going to set a new standard". It starts in our thinking. Nothing will change until you make up your mind you are not going to accept mediocrity.
Why don't you take the limitations off yourself? You have so much potential. Break out of that box and try something new. The enemy would love to keep that potential from ever coming out. He'll use bad breaks, negative comments, people, circumstances, to try to keep you from believing in yourself, believing that you can rise to the next level. Many people have let their mind become conditioned to think that they've reached their limits, they're just average, they'll never do anything great. What's happened? Instead of breaking out, they've adapted to their environment.
I saw a study researchers put all these fleas in a container and then put a lid on the top. The fleas immediately tried to fly out, but they hit the lid again and again. Before long, they realized they were stuck. At one point, the researchers removed the lid, but much to their surprise, the fleas didn't try to they had hit that lid so many times, they had become conditioned to think that they couldn't get out.
Even though the lid was off, they didn't even try, and sometimes, like these fleas, because of the environment we're in and times we've tried and failed, what people have told us, we've become conditioned to think we can't do anything great, we'll never accomplish a dream, we'll never get back in shape.
No, it may not have happened in the past, you may have tried and hit that lid a few times, but can I tell you, the lid is coming off. It's time to try again. You were not created to live contained, to get stuck. Recondition your mind.
That's what happened to a friend of mine. He got off to a rough start in life. He grew up in the projects, very poor, with hardly any guidance. His father wasn't had her own struggles, and because of this poor home situation, he was labeled by the state as a child at risk. That phrase, from the time he was a little boy, had played over and over in his mind. It had become ingrained in his thinking. There's no future for me, I'm a child at risk. And getting into trouble, doing what the rest of the crowd was doing.
Everyone around him was defeated, depressed, addicted. He fit right in. He adapted to his environment. Your life is going to follow your thoughts. He believed he was at risk, he became at risk. If you believe you've reached your limits, then you have. If you believe you'll never get well, then you won't. Because your mind has become conditioned with limitations, it will keep you from your highest potential.
You have to get rid of these thoughts that are holding you back. You may not see how you can do it in your own ability but you're not on your own. You have the most powerful force in the universe breathing in your direction. God created you to rise higher, to break barriers of the past, to overcome bad habits, to be free from generational curses, and people may have labeled you "At risk," "Average," "Less than," but God labels you "Well able," "Equipped," "Anointed," "Creative," "A masterpiece".
The good news is people don't determine your destiny; God does. What they said about you, the environment you're in now, how you were raised, cannot keep you from your purpose. God has already taken into account every detail of your life, every bad break, every negative comment, how you were raised, what somebody did. He's factored that all into his plan. If you will stay in faith, instead of holding you back, it will propel you forward. Instead of defeating you, it'll make you stronger.
God knows how to take what was meant for your harm one day this young man got in trouble in school and he was sent to the school counselor. She tried to reason with him but he wouldn't listen. She wouldn't give up. She kept on trying and trying. Finally, he said to her, "Why are you even bothering with me? I'll never do anything great. I've been told my whole life I'm a child at risk". She looked him in the eyes and said, "Listen to me. You are a child at possibility".
When he heard that, something ignited on the inside. He sat up in his chair, said to her, "What do you mean, 'at possibility'"? She said, "You are full of potential. You are smart, you are talented. There's so much you can become". His whole life he had heard just the opposite. His mind had become conditioned to think, "You'll never get out of the projects. You'll never be successful". That day, a stronghold was broken in his thinking. He reconditioned his mind.
Today, this young man owns his own business, very successful. Plus, he goes around to schools and speaks to other students who are considered to be at risk. He tells them what the counselor told him: "You're not at risk. You're at possibility".
My friend, Delatorro McNeal, is right here on the front row. But like with him, people around you may accept mediocrity. They may be fine with being average, having little goals, and working at an okay job, but don't let that spirit rub off on you. That is not who you are. You're the exception. You're a barrier breaker. You are not limited by your education, by how you were raised, by that environment. God has destined you to rise higher.
He's destined you to go this is what happened with my father. He was raised very poor on a cotton farm during the great depression. At Christmastime, his family was the one that received the Christmas basket that went to the poorest family in the school. He could never drink a full glass of milk. They couldn't afford it; only a fourth of a glass. Plus, they would pour water in it to make it last longer.
My dad gave his life to Christ, the first one in the family. He told me, "Joel, I made a decision that day that my children would never be raised in the poverty and lack that I was raised in". He changed his mind. Everyone around him, they were good people but they were limited. Their mind had become conditioned to accept not having enough, struggle, lack, and the problem is if you accept it, you won't do anything about it, and it's easy to get comfortable with mediocrity and just adapt to our environment.
But as a teenager, my father felt something it was those seeds of greatness. Every circumstance said he was stuck. He'd have to stay on the farm, pick cotton the rest of his life. But instead of adapting to that environment, his attitude was: "This is not my destiny. I am better than this. I'll refuse to live mediocre, wearing the Christmas basket. I know I have seeds of greatness, I have potential, I have creativity. The most high God breathed life into me".
And as a teenager he had to hitchhike but he went out and started ministering in the jails, in the senior citizens' homes, making a difference wherever he went. He went on to break the curse of poverty in our family, and he took us to a new level. He was a barrier breaker. Instead of just fitting in, be like everyone else, why don't you start seeing yourself as a barrier breaker, as the exception? You're supposed to stand out. You're supposed to rise higher.
Maybe everyone in your family is depressed except you. You broke out. You're happy. You're full of joy. Everyone is addicted except you. You're free, you're clean, you're helping others. Everyone is struggling, can't make ends meet, can't get ahead, except you. You're blessed, good breaks are chasing you down, opportunities are looking for you. Your gifts and talents are coming out in greater ways. Why is that? You're the exception. Not arrogantly, like you're better than someone else, but a quiet confidence knowing that you were made for more. See, if my father would have accepted that as his lot in life, I wouldn't be standing here today.
Are you accepting things that are less than God's best? Have you adapted to a limited environment? You have big dreams in your heart. You know there's a new business in you: a management position, a book, a better house. But you're doing as good as your friends. You've gone as far as your family. No, don't settle there. Break out of that mold. Nothing will be more sad than to come to the end of life and realize what we could have become. "If I'd have just lived with an 'at possibility' mind-set instead of this 'at risk' mentality".
A couple of years before my dad went to be with the Lord, we drove back to Paris, daddy wanted to reminisce and show me where he had grown up, and we went out onto the land where his farm used to be. The house was no longer there but we found the well and he showed me where he used to pick cotton and where he went to school, and before we left town we drove around to see if we could find any of his friends.
Rundown house. Really, it was nothing more than a shack. Didn't even look livable. There was this older gentleman on the front porch, not wearing a shirt, just kind of killing time. My father went up and said, "I'm John Osteen. Are you so-and-so"? It was his friend. They hadn't seen each other in over 60 years.
He invited us inside and the place was very dilapidated. There were buckets on the ground to catch the water dripping from the ceiling, and broken windows boarded up. We went and found several other of his friends. It was the same situation: extreme poverty, defeat, mediocrity, and they were good people but it hit me how they had not made anything out of their lives.
They had made the mistake of adapting to their environment. They accepted the limitations one man told how he had worked a little here and there and had odd jobs, worked down at the boat docks, barely making it. Another had been laid off 28 years earlier, not able to find any more work, lived off of handouts, no goals, no dreams, no resources.
Now, they were at they had not tapped into their potential, and that day made such an impression upon me. I thought about how my father was raised in the same environment. He came out of the same mold, same depression, same poverty, same school, but daddy went on to touch the world, pastored great churches, and he made a difference with his life. I saw firsthand what would have happened if my father had accepted the life of defeat he was born into. If he had not put his foot down and said, "I may have been born into mediocrity but I'm not settling here". If he had not reconditioned his mind, he would have been sitting right there with the rest of those men.
Friends, don't go through life and miss your destiny. You weren't created to get stuck, to settle, stay at the same place year after year. You were created to excel. There is potential in you right now just waiting to come out. You have gifts that will cause new doors to open, talent that will bring new opportunities. Get rid of low expectations. Quit making excuses to settle where you are.
You may be in some kind of limited environment, dysfunction, addictions, depression. The good news: you don't have to stay there. That is not your destiny. Somebody may have labeled you "At risk," but the Creator of the universe labels you've gone as far as your family, as your friends, that's good, but don't settle there. You're the exception. You're supposed to go further.