Joel Osteen — Invisible But Invaluable
I want to talk to you today about "Invisible but invaluable". A friend of mine is the equipment manager for a professional basketball team. He's in charge of getting all the uniforms, the balls, the training materials to the stadium before the team arrives, and many times, they'll land in the middle of the night. Two o'clock in the morning, he'll go straight to the arena, get everything set up for the next day, and he studies each player to find out what they like. He goes to great lengths to make sure their locker is exactly what they want. When the game rolls around, you don't see him. The cameras are on the they're the stars, they're getting all the attention.
Now, I had lunch with him recently, and I commented about how dedicated he is, and he made this statement, "I'm invisible, but I know I'm invaluable. Nobody sees me, but I know without me, this team wouldn't be what it is," and it takes a mature person to say, "I'm okay with being invisible. I'm okay with helping you to shine. I'm secure enough in who I am that I can be comfortable behind the scenes, playing my role, not frustrated because I'm not getting the credit, not jealous because nobody's talking about me. I'm content to make other people look good. I may be invisible, but I understand I'm invaluable".
And when you have this kind of attitude, you are sowing a seed. When you push people up, when you make them look good, then when it's your time to be promoted, when it's your time to shine, God will make sure somebody is there to push you up, to make you look good. But you have to pass this test of being content when you're invisible.
A lot of times we think, "Well, Joel, I'm doing all the work at my company and nobody thanks me. They never give me any credit. They don't appreciate me". Don't worry about that. You're not working unto people, you're working unto God. He's keeping the records. They may not thank you, they may not give you the credit, from people, it comes from the Lord, and this scripture talks about how what you give in secret God will reward when you're behind the scenes, invisible, helping somebody else to shine, making your supervisor look good, teaching that co-worker your skills, going out of your way to help them excel, God sees what you're doing, and when it's your time, God knows how to get you to where you're supposed to be, and you'll be okay being invisible if you'll just remember you're invaluable.
That company wouldn't be what it is without you. That person you've been investing in, they wouldn't shine as brightly, they wouldn't be as successful without your efforts. They may not acknowledge it. They may never tell you thanks. They think they did it on their own. That's okay, God sees it.
God knows every seed that you've sown, every sacrifice you've made, every kind word you've spoken. What you did in secret, God open, and every one of us should be invisible in somebody's life, behind the scenes, helping them to grow, encouraging them, calling out their seeds of greatness. Not looking for any credit, not announcing, "Hey everybody, look what I'm doing," and not making them think, "Boy, you really owe me. You see how much extra work this is to pour into your life"? No, do it quietly, in humility unto God.
Do you know how many people are making this service take place right now that we cannot see behind the scenes? Nursery workers taking care of our babies, teachers training our children, parking attendants directing the traffic, ushers, greeters seating people, technicians running the sound and lighting. Their names are not on the sign. They're not getting any credit, they're invisible, but the truth is, without them, we wouldn't be here.
You have to accept the role that God has given you. If not, you'll try to promote yourself, compete with people, try to outperform them, thinking, "I can't help them, they may pass me up. They may look better than me". No, God puts people in our lives so we can help them succeed, so we can push them forward, and you have to be secure enough in who you are that you can say, "I'm okay with being invisible. I realize my role in your story is to help you shine, to make you look good, to use my gifts to help you move further". But human nature will say just the opposite, "Don't let them get ahead. They're going to outshine you. You're just as good as they are".
No, God put them there on purpose so you could help push them into their destiny. Don't compete with them. Don't get jealous. The right attitude is, "God, I'm going to do my best to make them look good, and I know at the right time you'll make me look good". God will make sure that you get to where you're supposed to be. We were created to help others. One of the greatest joys in life is to help somebody else succeed, help somebody else shine, and they may go further than you, that's okay, you're not running their race. When you come to the end of "Did you keep up with your relative? Did you outperform your co-worker? Did you have more stuff than your neighbor"? No, he's going to ask, "Did you fulfill your destiny? Did you accomplish your assignment"?
And in the scripture, there was a young man named Jonathan. He was king Saul's son, he'd was next in line to take the throne, but things didn't work out the way Jonathan thought. His best friend David was chosen over him, and Jonathan could've been bitter and thought, "That's not right, I got passed over. I'm not going to do anything for David, he took my place". But Jonathan was so secure in who he was, he went out of his way to help David. When his father, king Saul, was trying to kill David, Jonathan gave David inside information to keep him safe. He told him where to go, how to avoid his father. He was behind the scenes, invisible, protecting David, connecting him to the right people.
He could've thought the whole time, "This guy took my spot. Here I'm giving him my secrets, I'm making him look good". But Jonathan understood this principle. He knew his role in David's story was to push him forward, and he was okay with somebody rising above him. He realized as he helped David move toward his destiny, in fact he was moving toward his own destiny.
It's better to become who God created you to be than to try to promote yourself and become something that you're not. 'Cause when you try to take yourself where you weren't designed to be, it will be a constant struggle, like you're always rowing upstream. It's because there's no grace on your life to become something that you were never meant to be. But there is an anointing to fulfill your destiny, and if you will become a Jonathan to someone and help them succeed, push them forward, when you become a Jonathan, God will always make sure there will be a Jonathan in your life.
When you sow into other people, you take time to help them, don't ever feel like, "Man, I'm falling behind. I should be using this time and energy to put into my own dreams, not to help them". No, when you're sowing into others, you are sowing into your own dreams. You are paving the way to reach the fullness of your destiny. When David arrived at the palace, he didn't know the right protocol and how everything operated. He wasn't trained to become the leader of a great nation and raised in royalty. He came from a very poor family. They were shepherds living out in the desert.
A few months earlier, he was taking care of sheep, cleaning up the mess, dirty, smelly. Now, he's in the palace. Saul is still on the throne and his son Jonathan took David under his wing, and taught him the right protocol, and what to wear, and here's how you address this person, here's how you start the meeting.
Jonathan was behind the scenes helping his friend him, not jealous, but celebrating his success, and as David rose higher, gained more influence and credibility, the whole time Jonathan was invisible. People saw David shining, rising to new heights, so popular, loved by the masses. What they didn't see was his good friend Jonathan, who thought he'd be on the throne, pouring into David's life. Jonathan accepted his role in David's story. He was invisible, but he knew he was invaluable.
The question is, can you play your role even if it's not the lead role? Can you be your best and sow into others even when they start passing you up? A lot of times we think, "God, let me be a David. Armies, came from nothing to royalty, a hero of faith," and that's good, we should aspire to rise higher and do great things. But our prayer shouldn't just be, "God, let me be a David," but also, "God, let me be a Jonathan. Their destiny. Let me be so secure in who I am that I can be invisible and use my gifts to help somebody else succeed. Let me realize that it's okay to play a smaller role. Help me to not be jealous, to not compete, to not try to outperform. But God, let me be a Jonathan and behind the scenes help somebody else look better".
The scripture says, "If you want to be great, you have to serve others". True greatness is not how bright you shine, but how bright do you make others shine. Father king Saul were killed in a battle, and years later, king David was sitting around reminiscing, thinking about the good old days. He remembered his friend Jonathan, how much he loved him, and David asked his assistant if any of Jonathan's relatives were still alive. They found his young son, who was crippled, and brought him to the palace. David gave him all the land that belonged to his family, treated him like royalty.
The point is, when you do good for people, you're sowing a seed, and that harvest will either come back to you or it will come back to your children. But this society, sometimes it teaches us to get ahead at all cost. "Don't get in my way, I'm competing with you. I can't help you, I'm trying to outperform you. I want the credit, I want the recognition". But that's a very shallow way to live. You will never truly be fulfilled if you're only focused on yourself. When you help somebody else succeed, God will help you succeed. Those seeds will come back to you. When you're a Jonathan, you not only use your gifts to help someone else rise higher, but you celebrate other people's success.
A lot of times, if you have a setback, you get a bad medical report or you go through a loss, people will come running. They'll be there to encourage you, to cheer you on, to help you make it through that difficult time. But too often when you competitive that they get jealous, find fault, make excuses, "He's not that talented. I can't believe she got married. What was that guy thinking"? No, let's be people that celebrate other people's success. They may be ahead of us, but I've learned if you can't be happy for what God has done in their life, you will never get to that level.
Don't be critical because they moved into a beautiful new home. Celebrate with them and, one day, God can bless you with a beautiful new home. Don't be jealous because your cousin married somebody way over her head, be happy for her. One day, God can bring you somebody way over your head, like he did Victoria. I mean when I took over for my father and first became a pastor, there were a lot of ministers that were very for me. They called me and cheered me on, encouraged me. They were being a Jonathan, pushing me toward my destiny, and I was very grateful.
But as the ministry began to grow and new doors opened and we saw success, some of them went from a Jonathan to a Saul. Saul was jealous of David. One reason king Saul lost the throne was because he couldn't handle David's success. He was so insecure and so competitive, he couldn't stand anyone being ahead of him. When the people started singing, "Saul has killed thousands and David has killed tens of thousands," he never looked at David the same way again. Saul loved David as a young man, had him come to the palace and play the harp for him, treated him like a son.
When David went out and shocked the nation and killed Goliath, Saul was right there cheering him on, saying, "That's my boy". But when Saul heard them singing about how David was more talented, more accomplished, a better leader, instead of saying, "That's his destiny. You go, David. More power to you, rise higher," he got jealous and Saul eventually lost the throne.
And if you're going to reach your highest potential, you have to be happy for the people that pass you up. Don't be a fair-weathered friend, where you're only going to be happy if they stay at your level. What if God destined them to be a David and destined you to be a Jonathan? Can you handle being number two? Are you big enough to let them shine brighter than you? Pass that test of being happy for people that rise higher. They may not have as much training, as talent, as qualifications as you, you just have to realize it's the sovereignty of God. Favor is not fair, and it's easy to think, "Well, Joel, I've paid my dues. That's not right". No, be big enough to celebrate what God has done in somebody else's life.
Here's the key. God blessing them doesn't mean that God cannot promote you. God did not use all of his favor on their life. God never runs out of favor. He can get you to where you're supposed to be. But if you become a Saul and them, find fault, that's going to keep you from your destiny. The scripture talks about how God lifts up one and sets down another. Whether you get lifted up or set down, whether you're a a destiny for you to fulfill, a place where you're in your sweet spot, seeing God's favor, doing exactly what you know you're supposed to do. This is why Jonathan wasn't frustrated because he didn't take the throne. He was in his sweet spot, happy, fulfilled, enjoying life.
What am I saying? You don't have to be David to be fulfilled. You don't have to be the king to enjoy your life. Learn to accept your role. Be content even when you're not getting the credit. You may be invisible, but that doesn't lessen your importance. What you have to offer is invaluable. Without Jonathan, David's life could've ended early, and when you keep a right heart, a pure heart, you take time to sow into others, you are passing the test, and many times, God will take you from being invisible to being visible, from the background to the foreground, and I believe one reason I saw that happen in my own life is because, for many years, I was content behind the scenes. I was happy making my father look good. I liked being invisible. I wasn't thinking, "One day, I'm going to be the pastor. That should be me up there. I bet I could do it better than him".
No, for 17 years, I did my make sure the lighting was perfect and camera angles just right. I would pick out his suit and tie to wear each week. I was invisible, but I knew I was fulfilling my purpose, using my gifts to celebrate others, to push them forward, and when my father went to be with the Lord, I had never ministered, but God took me from being invisible to being visible, and the truth is I'm not any happier today being in front of you than I was when I was behind the scenes. I was happy and fulfilled behind the scenes, I'm happy and fulfilled right now.
When you're secure in who God made you to be, then you can be content wherever God has you. Whether your role is visible you know you're making a difference, and as you keep passing these tests, God will get you to where you're supposed to be. You don't have to promote yourself. You keep honoring God, being a person of excellence, sowing into others, and when it's your time to be promoted, you will be promoted.
Elisha spent years taking care of the prophet Elijah. He went everywhere with him, brought him his food, ran his errands, washed his clothes. I'm sure people asked Elisha, "What are you doing spending your life taking care of this old prophet? You could be doing something much more significant. You're just as talented as he is. Why don't you start your own ministry"? Elisha wouldn't do it. He was comfortable being invisible, using his gifts to serve the prophet, and year after year went by. Said to Elisha, "You don't have to stay here with me. I can take care of myself, go do your own thing". But Elisha sensed that his destiny was tied to Elijah. He said, "No, I'm going to serve you, make it easier, help you to shine," and one day, after years of being invisible, serving in the background, passing the test, God said, "I'm going to take Elijah to heaven. I need to find somebody to can give a double portion of his anointing to".
God looked around and said, "I know just the right person, Elisha. He's been faithful all those years, didn't try to promote himself, didn't find fault with those ahead of him. He celebrated others, he was happy behind the scenes, so let me take him from being invisible to being visible," and Elisha took over for the prophet Elijah. He went on to perform twice as many miracles as Elijah. But it all happened because he was content behind the scenes, being invisible.
Mark chapter 2, there was a man that had been paralyzed for many years and not able to walk, and word got out that Jesus was in another city, and four of his friends decided to carry him on a stretcher to see Jesus. After a long journey, they finally arrived at the house where Jesus was teaching, but it was so crowded they couldn't possibly get in. They could've turned around, thought, "Well, too bad. We tried, but it didn't work out". But no, they were determined. They couldn't get through the door. One of the men said, "I got an idea, let's go through the roof". Dust started falling from the ceiling, little bit of clay and straw. There's a big commotion. They lowered the man down.
The scripture says, "When healed the man". It doesn't say that he just saw the man's faith, but when he saw the faith of his four friends, the ones in the background, behind the scenes, invisible, carrying the man, when he saw the faith of his friends, he healed him, and when you're behind the scenes, pushing people forward, helping them to succeed, you may feel invisible, but God sees what you're doing.
Your faith can cause your children to accomplish their dreams. Your faith can help a loved one get well. Your faith can be what God uses to push that co-worker into their destiny, and there are times in life we have to carry someone. They don't have the faith they need right now. They're not at the point where they can believe, and like this man, in some way they're paralyzed. God will use us to carry a friend, carry a neighbor, carry a loved one.
This is what happened with my father. He wasn't raised with any and as a teenager, my dad loved to party and have fun, never thought anything about God. But he had a friend named Sam Martin who was always talking to him about the Lord, inviting him to come to church. My dad said, "Sam, that's just not me. I'm not a religious person, leave me alone". Sam didn't get discouraged, day after day told my father, "John, you have a destiny to fulfill. God has a purpose for your life".
What was Sam doing? Carrying my father. When my dad didn't have faith, Sam had faith for him, and just as God saw the four friends carrying the paralyzed man, God saw Sam carrying my father, and one night, when daddy was 17 years old, he was walking home from a night club at 2 o'clock in the morning. He looked up at the stars and began to think about his life, his destiny. That was God drawing him to himself. He got home and he called his friend Sam.
The next day, he went to church with Sam for the first time. At the end of the service, the pastor said, "If you want to receive christ, meet me down at the front". My father was too afraid to go. Sam looked at him and said, with you". My father got up and walked down front and gave his life to christ, arm in arm with his friend Sam Martin. My dad went on to become a prominent pastor and touched the world. Sam remained invisible, but in fact he was invaluable. It was his faith that pushed my father into his destiny.
Now, I wonder where I would be if Sam Martin had not been willing to carry my father. I'm asking you today to carry a friend, carry a neighbor, carry a loved one. They may not have the faith they need right now to step into their destiny, but God can see your faith for them. My prayer is, God, let us become so secure in who we are that we can be invisible, that we can carry people, that we don't have to have the credit.
Friends, whether your assignment is large or small, a David or a Jonathan, be content to play your role. You may feel invisible at times, but remember you're invaluable, God is keeping the records, and as you help others to shine, God is going to cause you to shine. I believe and declare you will rise higher, fulfill your destiny and become everything you were created to be in Jesus' name.