Joel Osteen — Don't Lose Your Joy
I want to talk to you today about "Not giving away your joy". We have opportunities every day to get upset, to go around frustrated, can't find the car keys. Traffic is backed up, or maybe somebody was rude to us, or what should have taken an hour ended up taking four hours. There will always be something that can sour our day, and if we're going to live in victory, we have to have the right approach to life.
I've heard it said, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond". Some people are frustrated because they're trying to control the 10%. They're not going to be happy unless everything goes their way, and everybody treats them right, all their plans work out.
That's the wrong approach. You can't control the traffic, what your neighbor does, or how your boss treats you. All you can control is your own response, and that's where the power lies. Not in trying to control everybody and everything.
And I hear people say, "I'd be happy if my spouse treated me better. I'd be happy if my boss would move to another planet. I'd be happy if I didn't have to sit in traffic every day, Joel". No, you're allowing what you can't control to sour your life. You have to change your approach.
At the first part of the day, before we get out of bed, we need to make a decision that no matter what comes our way, we are not going to get upset. No matter what somebody says, we're not going to be offended. No matter what interruption or delay, we're not going to be sour.
The key is to decide ahead of time. Then when life happens, traffic is worse than normal, your children forget their homework at school, your wife is in one of those moods... somebody said, "'PMs' when your plans don't work out, it's no big deal. You've already decided, "This is the day the Lord has made," you're going to live it happy. But you can't wait till you're in the heat of the battle. It's too late.
You've got to decide ahead of time. Then when things come against you, you're prepared. Your mind is already made up. But too often, we think, "God, if you'd just change these people, change these circumstances, then I could be happy". But the fact is, you could take someone with the right approach and put them in your same situation. They wouldn't be upset. They wouldn't be stressed. They'd be at peace, enjoying life. Why? They know God is in control, that he's directing their steps, that all things are going to work together for their good, and they've already made this decision that no matter what comes their way, they're going to live their life happy, and if you'd just make this simple adjustment, then what's upsetting you now doesn't have to upset you any longer.
You have the power to be happy right where you are. That's what Jesus said in John 16:22: "No man can take your joy". That means other people cannot make you be unhappy. No circumstance can force you to get upset. Nothing can take your joy. You have to give it away. You're in complete control of your happiness.
Somebody is rude to you, what they're really saying is, "Give me your joy". Somebody cuts you off in traffic, "Let me have your joy". Somebody ignores you, leaves you out of a meeting, they're asking for your joy.
You have a choice. You can give it to them, go around upset, frustrated, offended, or you can make a much better decision and say, "No thanks, I need my joy". I'm not going to get upset because you were rude. I'm not going to be offended because you didn't speak to me. I'm not going to be frustrated because you cut me off in traffic. I've already made up my mind, "I'm going to live this day happy. I'll give you mercy. I'll give you understanding. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. But one thing I will not give you is my joy".
A while back, I was in a parking lot, driving around and around, looking for a parking spot. Finally, this couple came out of the store and headed toward their car. I had to guess which aisle I thought they were going to be on, and it just so happened I turned down the right one. They were parked at the very first spot, closest to the store.
Of course, I thought, "Thank you, Lord, for your favor. I was waiting there, but when they backed out, a car came from the main road, and pulled in going the wrong direction, and got that spot, and here I'd been waiting the whole time. My first inclination was to honk my horn, give them a piece of my mind, and then I remembered, "I'm a pastor of a church". I had to do what I'm asking you to do. I thought, "No, I've already made up my mind I'm not going to get upset today. I'll give them the parking spot, but I'm not going to give them my joy".
When you're tempted to be upset, somebody does you wrong, you need to ask yourself, "Is this worth me giving up my joy over? They've already done me wrong. Am I going to make it worse by letting them sour my whole day"?
Some people wonder why they're not happy. It's because they gave away joy when they couldn't find their car keys and gave away joy when they heard they had to work late and gave away more joy when they found out somebody was talking about them. It's not their circumstances that are keeping them from being happy. It's the fact that they keep giving away their joy, and friends.
Life is way too short to let these interruptions and irritations to keep us from being happy. We're never going to get away from them. You can't just pray them away. It's a part of life, and it's very freeing when you learn this principle: "I don't have to give away my joy. There's nothing people can say, nothing they can do. No circumstance can keep me from living this day happy".
Now, take inventory of your life. What are you allowing to upset you? What's causing you to be stressed? Identify what it is, and then make the decision to change your approach. A lot of times it's a small thing that we're making a big deal out of. Keep the right perspective. Is it really worth losing your joy because you couldn't find the remote control to the television, or your spouse didn't pick up his clothes like you asked him to? Your child forgot his lunch, you had to run back to the school. You're going to be inconvenienced for 15 minutes. That's a small thing. Don't give up your joy over that.
I love this story my brother, Paul, told. He and his wife, Jennifer, have four beautiful children, and a few years back, they were all under the age of seven. If you have small children, you know how hectic and stressful that can be, and one of Paul's pet peeves is he always likes to be on time. He does not want to be late, and one day, they had this important event to go to and Paul started way early, an hour before, helping to get the kids dressed and ready to go.
But when it came time to leave, everything that could go wrong, did. One of the children spilled something on their dress. They had to turn around, go back, and change. Then the dog got out. He had to chase him down. He got a phone call, had to deal with something else. He could feel his blood pressure rising higher and higher, and just before he lost his cool, he went in the den, sat on the couch, and said to himself, "You know, it's not really that big a deal to be five minutes late to chuck e. Cheese".
Don't make a big deal out of something that's not a big deal, and that's not the only dumb thing he's done, either. But I wonder how many things last week we let upset us that were small things. How many times did we get stressed over something that in the big picture didn't really matter? You didn't get news that you have a major illness. You just found out you had to work late one night, or your ballgame was canceled, or there was a detour and you had to take the long way home. There are enough big issues in life to deal with.
Make sure you're not giving away your joy over something small. Says in proverbs, "A relaxed attitude will lengthen your life". But when we're uptight and everything's got to be perfect, got to go our way on our schedule, if not, we're going to get all stressed out, that not only sours our day, but it could be shortening our life. Learn to relax. Go with the flow. Know that God is directing your steps. Don't fight against everything that doesn't go your way.
One time, Victoria and I were at Disneyland with our children and it was 10 o'clock at night. We'd been at the park all day long, and as we were leaving, Victoria wanted to go into the gift shop with our son, Jonathan, and pick up a few souvenirs, and I was carrying our daughter, Alexandra. She was two years old and she was asleep on my shoulder, and I was hot, tired, been walking around all day.
I said, "Victoria, no, I don't want to stop at this gift shop". She said, "Come on, Joel, it's just going to take me a minute". I said, "All right," and I went out, sat on the bench at the entryway to Disneyland. Just so happened there was a big clock up in front of me. I waited 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. You know how when you're waiting, things seem to take a lot longer than it really is.
And the longer I waited, the more frustrated I got. I not only gave away my joy, I gave away my peace, my strength, everything I had. I was hot and Alexandra was making more hot as I was holding her, and what was my big problem? Had a major accident? Lost my job? No, I just had to wait an extra half hour at Disneyland. I got up, went in the gift shop, said, "Victoria, that's it. I've had it. I'm going to the car, just meet me there". She said, "No, no, Joel, wait, we're just about to check out". I said, "No, no, I'm tired, Victoria, I'm going to go to the car," and I knew I should've waited for her, but I was just too irritated, and when we're upset, stressed, frustrated, we don't make good decisions.
Now, I got on the tram, still carrying Alexandra, took the 15-minute ride to the parking lot. The only problem was, I couldn't remember where we had parked. We were driving a white rental car. Do you know how many white rental cars there are at Disneyland in the summer? I bet there's 10,000. I went up and down aisle after aisle after aisle, so tired, totally sweaty.
Finally, I had to do what no grown man likes to do. I had to go to the tram station and say, "I can't find my car". Might as well have said, "I'm a loser". There was an older man there and he was very friendly. He said, "Don't worry about it, I'll help you. Did you park in the Mickey and Friends parking lot, or did you park in the Lion King parking lot"? I said, "I have no idea". He said, "Well, did you see Mickey Mouse when you drove in or did you see Simba"? I said, "I don't know who Simba is". He said, "Do you know who Donald Duck is"?
Long story short, I parked on the other side of Disneyland. I had to get back on the tram, go back to where I started, catch another tram. An hour later, I showed up at the car. Little Jonathan was about five. He came running out, "Daddy, I thought, "I'll never tell". I learned my lesson. Number one, be patient. Number two, let Victoria shop as much as she wants to shop. Number three, don't give away your joy.
Jesus said, John 14:27: "'Stop allowing yourself to be upset and agitated.'" Notice, it's a choice. He didn't say, "I'll take away everything that will cause stress and frustration". No, he said, "It'll still be there, but if you have the right approach, it doesn't have to upset you," and we all have to deal with not only delays, inconveniences, but we have to deal with people that are hard to get along with, people that are rude, inconsiderate, annoying, and sometimes it's not a stranger, somebody that's closer to you.
One lady told how one of her husband's relatives was very opinionated. He was always making these sarcastic, demeaning remarks toward her, and this couple had just been married for a little while, and every time they went to a family get together, invariably, he would say something that offended her, and it would get her upset and end up ruining the whole trip, and this happened like clockwork again and again. Got to where she dreaded going to these family events.
Finally, she said to her husband, "You've got to do something about this man. He's your relative," and she expected her husband to say something like, "You're right, honey. Nobody should talk to you like that. I'm going to go in there and straighten him out". But he did just the opposite. He said, "Honey, I love you, but I can't control this man. He has every right to have his opinion. He can say what he wants to, but you have every right to not let it offend you".
She couldn't understand why her husband wouldn't get in there and straighten it out. This happened time and time again. She kept getting upset. Every time he'd walk into one room, this man, she would walk into another. If this man came inside, she'd make sure she went outside. Her whole focus was centered on avoiding this man, and one day, it was like a light turned on. She realized she was giving away her joy. She was letting this one person who has issues of his own to keep her from being who she was meant to be.
Now, you may have somebody in your life like this, and if you don't make this adjustment, you'll go the next 20 years allowing them to upset you. Change your approach. Every time you let them irritate you, all that's doing is empowering them. The next time they do something that would normally get on your nerves, don't give away your joy. When they're rude, keep a smile on your face.
If they ignore you, leave you out, don't cold call all your friends and talk about it. No, when you stay on the high road, keep your joy, keep your peace, you're not fueling it anymore. In other words, you're taking away their power. But as long as they know they can push this button and you'll get upset, and this button, it'll ruin the rest of your day, they'll continue to do it.
It says in Psalms, "God has given us the power to remain calm in times of adversity". That's saying, "The people may not change. The circumstances may not change, but you have the power to stay calm. You don't have to give away your joy".
I called to order a pizza one time. The first thing they always ask for is your phone number. A young lady answered the phone and I said very politely, "Hello," and I went on to give her my phone number. You would have thought I'd just committed a major crime. She practically screamed in my ear, "Sir, I am not ready for your phone number, and when I am ready, I will ask you for your phone number".
I thought, "Lady, I'll give you my phone number whenever I feel like giving you my phone number". I thought, "I'll call you at 2 o'clock in the morning, give you my phone number 47 different times". I could feel myself tempted to be aggravated, upset, irritated. I had to ask myself, "Am I going to give her my joy"? Was I going to let this young lady that I'd never seen, never met, didn't want to meet, cause me to get sour, ruin the rest of my evening? Or was I going to say, "No thanks, I need my joy. I've already decided I'm not going to get upset. I know I have the power to stay calm in a time of adversity," and I kept my joy, and I saw it as a challenge.
As mean and rude as she was to me, I was going to be that kind and friendly back to her. The scripture says, "We overcome evil with good". When somebody's rude, inconsiderate, too often, we sink down to their level. We're rude and inconsiderate back to them. But the way to really overcome is to do just the opposite. You've heard the phrase, "Kill them with kindness," and that's what I tried to do.
I thought of anything that I could possibly compliment her on, and I had to use my imagination. I said, "I sure appreciate you answering the phone so quickly and taking my order, being so efficient, and you guys make the best pizzas. You're always on time," on and on I went. By the time I was done, she was my best friend. She was throwing in hot wings and Dr. Peppers. Don't give away your joy.
Paul told timothy in the scripture, "Stay calm, cool, and steady". Some of you are letting things upset you way too easily, traffic, weather, grumpy salesperson, inconsiderate receptionist, family member that talks down to you. Draw the line in the sand and say, "That's it, this is a new day. I'm not giving away my joy anymore. I'm going to stay calm, cool, and steady".