Joel Osteen — Having an Excellent Spirit
I want to talk to you today about "Having an excellent spirit". We live in a society where mediocrity is the norm. Many people do as little as they can to get by. They don't take pride in their work and pride in who they are. If somebody is watching, they'll perform one way, but when nobody is watching, they'll cut corners and take the easy way out, and if we're not careful, we'll get pulled into this same mentality, thinking that "It's okay to show up late to not give it our all".
But I've learned God doesn't bless mediocrity. God blesses excellence, and when you have an excellent spirit, you do the right thing whether anyone is watching or not. You go the extra mile. You do more than you have to. Other people may complain. They may go out looking sloppy, cutting corners, but don't sink down to that level. "Well, Joel, everybody's doing it", "Everybody slacks off when the boss is gone at my company". "Everybody compromises at my school". "Everybody doesn't take care of their yards in my neighborhood". No, here's the key. You're not everybody. You're a cut above. You are called to be excellent. God wants you to set the you should be the example your company uses as the model employee. Your boss should be able to say to the new hires, "Watch this person. Develop their skills. Learn their habits. They are the cream of the crop. They're always on time. They always have a good attitude. They do more than they have to," and when you have an you're not only going to see promotion, but you are honoring God.
A lot of times, we think, "Let me go to church to honor God". "Let me read my bible and pray to honor God," and yes, that's true, but do you know it honors God to get to work on time? It honors God to be productive each day. It honors God to go out looking your best. When you are excellent, your life is giving praise to God. That's one of the best witnesses we could ever have because some people will never come to church. They'll never listen to a minister. They're not reading their bible. They're reading your life. They're watching how you live.
Now, don't be sloppy. When you leave the house, whether you're wearing a suit or a pair of shorts, make sure you look the best that you possibly can. You are representing almighty God. When you have a spirit of excellence, you do more than you have to. You don't just do the minimum amount required. In fact, this phrase comes from the scripture. Jesus said it in Matthew 5:41: "'If someone asks you to walk a mile with them, do more'". Back in those days, a roman soldier, when they were traveling through the city, they could require, by law, a person to carry their armor for 1 mile. After that mile, they would have to find somebody else. Jesus said, "If they ask you to carry it for a mile, go beyond the call of duty. Do more than is expected. Carry it 2 miles". That's the attitude we should have, not "I'm gonna go to work and do as little as I can to try to keep this job". No, "I'm a person of excellence. I'm going to go beyond the call of duty. I'm going to do more than is expected in me".
That means if you're supposed to be at work at 8, you show up ten minutes early. You do more than you have to. You don't start shutting down 30 minutes before the day's over. Some people go to work 15 minutes late, walk around the office, get a cup of coffee, get to their desk about 8:30, spend the next half hour surfing the internet, making personal phone calls, and they wonder why they don't get promoted. Here's why, God doesn't reward sloppiness.
One time in the scripture, Abraham told his assistant to go to a foreign country and find a wife for his son Isaac. He said, "The way you know you will find the right girl is, when you go to the well, she'll not only offer you something to drink, but she'll offer to get your camels water. As well this assistant got to the foreign land. He was at the well. About sunset, here comes this beautiful young lady named Rebecca. He said, "Ma'am, I've been traveling all day. I'm so thirsty. Would you mind lowering your bucket and getting me some water to drink"? She said, "Sure I will, but let me get your camels something to drink as well".
Here's what's interesting. A camel, after a long day's walk, can drink 30 gallons of water. This man had ten camels with him. If she had a 1-gallon bucket, she was saying, "Yes, I'll dip down once and get you something to drink, plus I'll dip down 300 more times to get your camels water as well". That's going way beyond the call of duty. Now, notice what happens. She is chosen to marry Isaac, who comes from the wealthiest family of that day. I doubt she had to draw 300 gallons of water ever again.
Friends, God rewards excellence. When you do more than what's required of you, you'll see God's goodness in a new way. Well, you say, "Joel, I'm declaring God's favor. I'm declaring promotion and increase is coming". That's great, that's one part of it, but the second part is, are you getting to work on time? Are you doing more than you have to? Are you better this year than your company shouldn't get along nearly as well without you. You should be so skilled, so productive, so valuable, so needed, they can't afford to lose you.
See, we live in a very competitive marketplace. If you're not growing, improving, learning new skills, you're falling behind. If you're at the same skill level today that you were five years ago, you're at a disadvantage. You need to take steps to grow. Whatever you do, get better at it. If you're a carpenter, an architect, a computer programmer, take classes. Find a mentor. Study ways that you can be more productive, more efficient. Don't get stagnant. An excellent person keeps sunday afternoons after our final service, I'll sit with an editor, and I still edit my sermons for the television broadcast. I've done 560 messages, 13 years' worth. You'd think, "Surely, I don't need to watch another one. If I haven't learned how to do it by now, I'm never going to get it right".
No, I study each one of them could be better. "This point was a little long. That section was really great. I'm talking too fast there". I'm constantly evaluating, analyzing, not only my part, but the production, the lighting, the camera angles. My attitude is, "There's always room for improvement. We can always get better". People that watch on television say, "Joel, we never hear you make a mistake. You never stumble. You never stutter, nothing at all". I always tell them the truth, "It's because I know how to edit". That's what I did for 17 years behind the scenes for my father. I know how to cut out the stutters, the mistakes, the stumbles. The truth is, I don't have to.
It's fine the way it goes out live. Nobody has ever complained about it, but I want it to be the best that it can possibly be. I don't want to be at this same level next year as I am right now. More anointed, more skilled, making a greater difference. When you're a person of excellence, you don't get stagnant. You're always taking steps to improve, and looking for ways that you can be better. Here's what I've found, favor and excellence, go hand-in-hand increase, promotion, reaching your highest potential, it is all tied to a spirit of excellence. I say this respectfully, but some people are driving a car that hasn't been washed in six months. Used to be a two tone, now it's a four tone. "Well, Joel, it's an old piece of junk. I'll do it when I get something better". No, if you don't take care of what God's given you, how can God bless you with more?
Africa, no running water, a dirt floor, yet the place is spotless. Everything is clean, organized, perfectly in place. Why is that? They have a spirit of have a lot or a little, whether it's new or old, take pride in what God has given you. After the service, I'll walk up to the visitor's area, and if I ever see a piece of paper on the floor, a gum wrapper, a bulletin, I automatically pick it up. I don't have to. Somebody will eventually get it. But when you have a spirit of excellence, it's engrained in you. Sometimes in between services on sunday, in the nursery hallways, there'll be a cracker on the floor that's all crumpled up, and I'll always ask Johnny if he'll call the cleaning crew 'cause I want to get it cleaned up before that next group comes in.
See, I realize, this building represents almighty God. That's why we do our best to take care of it in a first-class way. We make sure it's painted, the lawn is perfect, the hallways are spotless, the equipment works, the cameras are state of the art. Why? We represent God, and God is not sloppy. God is not run down. God is not second-class. That doesn't mean that you have to have the best to represent God. It simply means whatever God has given you, take care of it the best you possibly can. Sometimes a can of paint can make a world of difference, pulling some weeds, cleaning the carpet, being more organized. Do what you can to represent God in an excellent way.
When our children were younger, we used to take them to Disneyland. That place is always spotless. I have never once seen a piece of gum stuck to the floor. Hundreds of thousands of people go through every year, and it still looks brand new. I thought, "How do they do this"? One day, I was there, and I saw these men going around with tools to scrape up gum. That's all they do all day long. If disney can keep their parks that first-class, that clean, how much more should we keep God's house clean and first-class?
Now, take this to your own your clothes, your cubicle, your office. I'm not asking you to spend a lot of money. It's all in how you choose to take care of what God has given you. I'm asking you to do it with excellence, knowing that you represent almighty God.
Years ago, I was driving to church when it was at the other location, and when I got close, for some reason, that day, I noticed how many people didn't take care of their homes. The yards weren't mowed. Weeds were everywhere. Things were stored all over the place. I'm not being critical. I'm sure they're fine people, but I couldn't help but notice that just one house after another, as sloppy as could be, and as I continued driving, in the midst of all those houses, one home stood out. The yard was immaculate. The house was clean and painted, beautiful flowers out front, everything perfectly in place, and when I got to church, I commented to someone about that house. They said, "Oh, yeah, Joel, that's so-and-so's house. They're some of our most faithful members".
I thought, "That doesn't surprise me. Lakewood people are people of excellence". They were a cut above. They stood out in the crowd. Now, they could have the attitude, "Nobody takes care of their lawns in our neighborhood. Why should we"? Excellence. You may be in a situation where everybody around you is a little lazy, indifferent, undisciplined. Don't let that rub off on you. You be the one to have an excellent spirit. Like this family, you be the one to stand out in the crowd.
Well, you say, "Joel, you mean I drove all the way here today, I tuned in to hear you tell me to clean up my house"? No, not just that, mow your but seriously, what kind of witness is it to our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers if our yard is sloppy, our car is never washed, we're always running late everywhere we go? That's not a good representation, and the truth is, that's not who you really are. God made you as a person of excellence, and maybe all you've seen modeled is mediocrity, but God is calling you to a higher standard. He's going to take you places you've never dreamed of, but you've got to do your part and stir up the excellence that's on the inside.
Don't make excuses. "Oh, this is the way I've always been". No, take this challenge to excellence, even in our personal appearance, how we dress, how we present ourselves. There are all different styles. We have different tastes. One is not right and the other is wrong. You may not like to wear a suit, that's fine. You present yourself in a way that you're proud of. Don't leave the house feeling sloppy, feeling less than your best, knowing that you didn't take time to look as good as you could have.
You are a temple of the most high God. God lives in you. Take time to take care some of you ladies, you're very good at taking care of others. You put the children first. You're a great wife. You're running the household, but you need to start taking time to take care of yourself. Go get your nails done. Get your hair done. Get a massage. Go workout, go to the mall. Go have some fun with some of your friends. Of yourself in an excellent way. Some of you men haven't bought yourself any new clothes in 27 years. That shirt you wear has been in and out of style already three different times. You're an excellent worker. You're a great provider for your family. I'm simply saying make sure you take care of yourself.
One time, Victoria asked me to run up to the grocery store to pick up something so she could finish making dinner, and I had just worked out, and I was very hot and sweaty, and I was wearing an old t-shirt, and run-down gym shorts that I used to wear around the house. I didn't look good at all, but I didn't feel like cleaning up. So I decided to just run up the grocery store and hopefully, nobody would see me. When I pulled in the parking lot, I heard God speak to me. Not out loud, but, you know, just an impression down in here. He said, "Joel, don't you dare go in there looking like that. Don't you know you represent me? Creator of the universe. I deserve respect and honor".
I turned around, went back home, took a shower, combed my hair, put on clean clothes. I went back up to the grocery store and picked up those TV dinners that Victoria wanted. I'm not going to look that way we represent almighty God, and God does not like sloppiness, even around the house. Of course, we all like to be super casual, but make sure you still look good for your children, you still look good for your spouse.
Ladies, you may need to get rid of that bathrobe that was passed down to you by your great-great-grandmother and get you something new. "Oh, Joel, it's so comfortable. It's so sentimental. I've had it for so many years". Let me what nobody'll tell you. It's ugly, the truth is, you're too beautiful to wear that thing. Get your husband's credit there's a certain store. I don't want to give away any free advertisement, but it starts with my wife's first name, Victoria. I can't tell you the rest. Find something that makes you look like the masterpiece God made you to be.
Now, you men can thank me later. When you're at the store shopping and something accidentally falls off the rack, don't act like you don't see it and just leave it there. A person of excellence picks it up and puts it back. When you're shopping for groceries and you decide you don't want this cereal anymore, don't just stick it over by the detergents. A person of excellence takes it where it belongs. Somebody that has a spirit of excellence doesn't park in a handicapped spot because they don't feel like walking. Bottom line is this, when you have this spirit of excellence, you do the right thing, not because somebody's watching you, not because they're making you do it. You do it to honor God.
At our house, we used to have these 5-gallon containers of water, and they come in big glass barrels, and they have a neck on the top, and you have to flip it over and put it on a dispenser, and that's how the water comes out. Well, Victoria likes everything super clean, and even though the place where the water comes out is sealed, the receptor goes way up into the neck. There's no way germs could get up in there. Didn't matter, Victoria likes to wipe down the whole bottle with soap and water. Well, even after you dry it off, it's very slippery, which makes it extremely difficult to get up there.
Now, I had debated with her several times about why we do not need to wipe down the whole bottle, just maybe the end, but couldn't convince her. I gave her my word that I plenty of times I was in the pantry all by myself. Nobody could see me. I'm tired, I don't feel like struggling with this bottle of water. I get it almost up, and I hear that still, small voice saying, "Joel, be a person of excellence. Do the right thing. You gave your word". I'd have to put it down and go get the soap and water.
What am I saying? A person of excellence does the right thing even when nobody's watching, even when you don't agree, even when you don't think it's necessary. Sometimes you have to say, "God, I don't feel like doing this, but I'm going to do it unto you". "God, what my boss is asking me to do is not right, but I'm going to do it unto you". "God, I didn't make the mess. I shouldn't have to clean it up, but I'm going to do it unto you".
Some people are not seeing God's favor like they should because they're not passing the small test. Being more excellent may not be some huge adjustment you need to make. May just be something small, like getting to work ten minutes earlier, not complaining when you have to clean up, doing the right thing even though you don't feel like it. The scripture says, "It's the little foxes that spoil the vines".
If I would've put that water on the dispenser week after week without washing it, nobody would have known except me and God. I could have gotten away with it, but here's the key. I don't want something small to keep God from releasing something big into my life. Are there areas where you know God's dealing with you about coming up higher? Any time God asks you to do something, if you will obey, a reward will follow.
One time I was in a parking lot, and it was very windy outside, and when I opened my car door, several pieces of newspaper flew out, and as I reached down to pick them up, the wind caught them and they different directions. I didn't feel like going picking that up. I looked in the parking lot. There was already a whole lot of other trash there, and I was in a hurry. I was tired. I came up with all these excuses as to why I didn't need to pick up my trash. I almost convinced myself. At the last moment, I decided to be a person of excellence.
I ended up running around that whole parking lot. My mind was saying, "Joel, what are you doing out here? It doesn't matter. Just let it go". Finally got it picked up and came back to my car. What I didn't realize is there was a couple sitting in the car next to me watching all this take place. They rolled down their window and said, "Joel, we watch your on television every week". I'll never forget what the lady said, "We were watching to see what you were going to do". I thought, "Oh, thank you Jesus". Whether you realize it or not, people are watching you, even in small areas. Make sure you're representing God in a great way.
In the Book of Daniel, it talks about how he had an excellent spirit. As a teenager, he was brought out of Judah into Babylon. The king was training all these young men, and the best ones, the smartest, the strongest, the most talented would become the next leaders. They had a certain diet to eat, certain program to follow, but Daniel had made a vow to God that he would always honor him. And the babylonians were worshiping idols, and Daniel was respectful, but he wouldn't eat the king's fancy food. He didn't just follow along and do what everyone else was doing. He made more excellent choices.
In Daniel chapter 6, it says: "Daniel so distinguished himself by his exceptional qualities that the king planned on putting him in charge of the whole kingdom". Notice, it doesn't say that "God distinguished Daniel and he got promoted". It says, "He distinguished himself". The message translation says: "He totally out-classed those around him.
That's what happens when, number one, you honor God with your life, and number two, you have a spirit of excellence. You don't compromise. You don't just go with the flow and do what everybody else is doing. Like Daniel, you make the more excellent decisions, and it goes on to tell how Daniel was ten times smarter than the other young men, and when you have an excellent spirit, God will give you unprecedented favor, creativity, ideas that will cause you to stand out. You will out-class in humility those around you that are not honoring God.
My question today, are you distinguishing yourself? Are you going the extra mile, doing more than you have to, making the more excellent choices? God is always dealing with us about some area to come up higher in. Maybe it's to be more excellent in how you treat people, more excellent in how you present yourself, more excellent when it comes to your career and improving your skills.
Don't let something small keep God from releasing something big into your life. You are called to be a cut above. You have excellence on the inside. Now stir it up and bring it to the outside, and I believe and declare today, because I'm looking at people of excellence, God is going to give you more wisdom, more ideas, more strength, more creativity. Like Daniel, you're going to out-class, out-perform, out-shine. God is going to promote you, put you in a place of honor, and you will fulfill your God-given destiny, in Jesus's name.