Joel Osteen — Keep Growing
I want to talk to you today about keep growing. Too many people suffer from destination disease. They've reached a certain level, attained a goal. Now, they're coasting off of what they've already learned. Studies tell us that 50% of people, after they graduate from high school, will never read an entire book the rest of their life. One reason is we see learning as a period of life instead of a way of life.
We learned when we were growing up in school. We had teachers, coaches, expected us to learn. But now, we think, "I'm out of school, done with my training, I've got my job". But God never created us to reach one level and stop, and whether you're 90 years old or 9 years old, we should constantly be learning, improving our skills, getting better at what we do.
You have to take responsibility for your growth. Growth is not automatic. What steps are you taking to get better? Are you reading books, listening to teaching CDs? Are you taking any courses on the Internet, going to any seminars? Do you have any mentors? Are you gleaning from people that know more than you? Don't just coast through life, relying off of what you've already learned. You have treasure on the inside. There is skill, talent, potential put in you by the Creator of the universe, but it's not going to automatically come out.
Now, I read where the wealthiest places on earth are not the oil fields of the middle east, nor the diamond mines of South Africa. The wealthiest places are the cemeteries. Buried in the ground are businesses that were never formed, songs that were that were never written, potential that was never realized, dreams that never came to pass. Don't let that be you. Don't go to your grave with your treasure still in you. Keep growing, keep learning.
Pablo Casas was one of the greatest cellist players that ever lived. He started playing at the age of 12, and he accomplished things that no other musician did. He was known around the world as the best in his field. At 85, he still got up every morning and practiced 5 hours a day. A reporter asked him why he still put so much effort into it. He smiled and said, I think I'm getting better. He understood this principle.
When you stop learning, you stop growing. Whatever you do, get better at it. Sharpen your skills. Don't you dare be at the same place next year as you are right now. There is so much opportunity to learn. There is more knowledge available today than any time in history. We have no excuse to not improve. We don't even have to go to the library like we did in old days. You don't even really have to go to the university. The Internet comes right into our living rooms. It wasn't created just to share pictures, and look up movie times, and play games. That's all fine, but it is a tool to help you learn, a tool to help you increase, and you have a responsibility not only to God, not only to your family, but you owe it to yourself to develop what God's put in you.
If you're in sales, get better at it. Read books to learn how to communicate more effectively. People have gone where you're going. Listen to what they have to say. Take at least 15 minutes a day, turn off the television, and invest in yourself. You should be doing something strategic and something intentional every day not vague, "All right, Joel, I'll do it if I have time". No, you're better than that. You have too much in you to stay where you are. Your destiny is too great to get stuck.
A lot of times, we're sitting back, saying, "God, I'm waiting on you. God, I'm waiting for my big break". Let me tell people that are prepared, people that have developed their skills. You've got to be proactive and take these steps to grow, and when God sees you doing your part, developing what he's given you, then he will do his part and open doors that no man can shut. But you say, "Joel, I'm busy. I don't have extra time to take training courses. I don't have time to read books, learn something new. I'll fall behind".
That's like these two lumberjacks. They were out chopping down trees. One said, "I'm going to take a break and go sharpen my ax". The other said, "I don't have time to do that. Got too much work to do". He kept chopping and chopping. The other man went and sharpened his ax, came back 3 hours later, and chopped down twice as many trees. Sometimes you need to take a break and sharpen your ax. If you'll sharpen your skills, you'll get more done in less time. If you'll sharpen your skills, you may not have to work so hard, and whether you're a teacher, a mechanic, a banker, a doctor, don't settle where you are and just coast off of what you've already learned.
Stir up what God's put in you and get better at it. Sharpen your ax. This is a call to action. There are amazing things in your future. God has shifted things in your favor. Now, God is looking for people who are prepared, people that are serious about fulfilling their destiny.
This is what David did. He was out in the shepherd's fields, taking care of his father's sheep. In today's terms, he had a minimum wage job. It was boring, no friends, no opportunity for growth, and David could have slacked off, been sloppy, unmotivated, thought, "No reason I'm stuck out here with these sheep". No, while he was out there all alone, instead of being lazy, killing time, he got his slingshot out and started practicing day after day, month after month. I can see him setting up that target, slinging that stone again and again, practicing, learning, making adjustments, getting better, sharpening his skills.
When a coyote or wild animal tried to attack one of his sheep, it was no problem. David took that sling and that stone, and nailed it. David was a sharpshooter, a marksman, so skilled, so precise, he could hit a bullseye 100 meters away. When God needed someone to slay a giant, someone to lead his chosen people, he looked to see who was prepared, who had developed his skills. God didn't just choose anybody. He chose a skilled marksman that could hit a target with exact precision.
In the same way, when God is looking for people to promote today, he doesn't just close his eyes and randomly say, "Well, I'll pick you. You won the lottery. It's your lucky day". No, God looks for people who have developed their skills, and when David stood before Goliath and slung that stone, sometimes we think that was all God, and yes, in a sense, I know it was God, but the truth is God God didn't cause it to hit at just the right spot. It was the skill God gave David that he had developed.
Like David, God has put in each one of you skill that can slay a giant. You have skill that can open new doors, skills that can lead to an abundant life. But the key is that skill has to be developed. Every day you spend growing, learning, improving, you're getting prepared for that new level, and you may be at a lower position now, doing something that feels insignificant. You know you have so much more in you. You could easily slack off and think, "There's no future here. I'll get prepared after I get that promotion. I'll sharpen up after I get that big break. Then maybe I'll take some courses, lose a few pounds, have a better attitude, buy some new clothes".
No, you've got it backwards. You've got to start improving right where you are. Start sharpening your skills while you're waiting. Study your boss, study your manager. Learn that position. Be able to step when God sees you prepared, then he can open new doors, and the scripture says there your gifts will make room for you. If no new doors are opening, don't get discouraged. Just develop your gifts in a greater way. Improve your skills. "Well, Joel, my supervisor, they have 10 years seniority on me. They're not going anywhere".
Let me tell you a secret. If you'll outgrow your position, outperform them, out produce them, know more than then, then God will somehow, some way get you to where you're supposed to be. Your gifts will make room for you. Don't worry about who's in front of you, how long they've been there, how it's never going to work out. You just keep growing, learning, getting prepared, and the right doors will open, and the fact is God may not want you to have your supervisor's position. That may be too low for you. God may be about to thrust you right past them into a whole new level.
I know a former receptionist, she used to answer the phone. Today, she's running a multi-million dollar, worldwide company. You develop what God's put in you, and he'll take you further but it is easy to fall into destination disease. We're comfortable, we're not stretching, not learning anything new, and there's nothing wrong with this, but you have so much more in you. You were created to increase. Studies tell us that the average person only uses 11% of their brain. Think about how much more potential we could maybe you're an accountant. That's good, but don't settle there.
Why don't you go get your CPA license? There's a new skill you can develop. That gift will make more room for you. Maybe you're an electrician, a mechanic, a plumber. That's great, but what steps are you taking to improve? In today's competitive marketplace, with the economy so tight, business so bottom line oriented, if you're not improving, you're falling behind. If you're at the same skill level today you're at a disadvantage, and you need to develop your gifts in such a way that your company cannot make it without you, or at least things don't run nearly as smoothly when you're not there.
If you take a week off all the work gets done, and sales are just as good, if you're the owner, that's a great thing. But if you're an employee, I need to sound the alarm. If you're not being missed, then maybe you're not needed. You need to kick it into a new gear, produce more than you're producing, take classes to improve your skills, step it up a notch.
"Well, Joel, I'm at a lower position. Nobody would ever miss me". No, don't use that as an excuse to slack off. You have treasure in you. You have skill and talent. Once it's developed, it will proverbs says, "Do you see a man skilled in their work, they will stand before kings and great men". Skills and, like cream, you will rise to the top. God will cause you to be noticed.
This is what Joseph did. He started at the very bottom, in the pit, sold into slavery by his brothers. But Joseph didn't wait till he was vindicated before he decided to be his best. As a slave. He was so valuable that he was put in charge of all of his master's house. When he was falsely accused and put into prison, he was so organized, that they put him in charge of the whole prison. What is that? Cream rising to the top. When the Pharaoh needed someone to run the country and administer the nationwide feeding program, Pharaoh didn't choose a cabinet member, didn't choose his department head. He chose Joseph, a prisoner, a slave, why? Joseph developed his skills right where he was, and his gifts made room for him.
Don't let where you are be an excuse to not grow. "I don't like my job, Joel. These people don't treat me right. I'm uncomfortable. I've had unfair things happen". No, the treasure is still in you. God is saying it's time to get it out. Start stretching. Take some new courses. Sharpen your skills. We should be so productive, so full of wisdom that, no matter where we are, like cream, we always rise to the top, and one way you will be invaluable is learn to be a problem solver. That's what Joseph was.
Don't go to your boss and say, "Our department is falling apart, and this manager is about to quit, and Bob cursed out Jim yesterday, and Sally's never on time. Nobody's paid our taxes. What do you want us to do"? No, you're not going to get promoted like that. If you're ever going to present a problem, always present a solution as well. If you don't know the solution, then don't present the problem just yet.
Anybody can tell me the building's on fire. That's easy, that doesn't take any skill. But as an employer, I want somebody to not only tell me the building's on fire, but the fire department's on the way, out safely, and we notified the insurance company, and we got a new place lined up to meet.
If you want to be invaluable to your organization, present solutions, not just problems. What steps are you taking to better yourself so you can go to the next level? Are you reading books, trade magazines so you can stay up to date? Can you take a course that would give you an advantage? You have to stay on the offensive. "Well, Joel, I got my degree, I got my education, I did my part".
No, do you know how many degrees are outdated in as little as 5 years? The world is changing so fast. If you don't have this attitude to continue learning, taking these steps to grow, then you'll fall behind, and some of you need to be set free from destination disease. You've reached a certain level. God's blessed you. Now, you're coasting. But you were not created to stay there. Break out of the box and learn something new.
Will Rogers said, "Even if you're on the right track, if you just sit there, eventually you're going to get run over," and yes, God has great things in your future. He wants to take you where you couldn't go on your own. But if you're not prepared, if you haven't developed your skills, it can hinder you from the fullness of your destiny, and every one of us should have a personal growth plan, not something vague. "Okay, Joel, I'll take the training every once in a while". No, you need a specific plan that lays out how you're going to grow. "These are the steps I'm going to take this year, 2018, to help me improve".
Let me give you some ideas. Driving to work each morning, instead of listening to the radio, put on some good teaching CDs. That will help you improve in your field. The average American spends 300 hours a year in their car. You can turn your car into a university. Think about how much you can learn in 300 hours. That's invaluable time. Take advantage of it. Another suggestion, while you're working out at the gym, make sure you have good information going into you.
People tell me all the time, "Joel, I listen to you while I'm out running, while I'm exercising". One lady said, "I listen to you every night before I go to bed. You always put me right to sleep". I thought, "Thanks a lot". But these are simple things. I'm not asking you to go study an extra 3 hours a day. I'm saying take advantage of the time that you're not using right now, and I love the technology. With the podcast, you can download these messages that you hear every week and listen to them wherever you want to.
This year, we will give away over 100 million of my messages free of charge. You just go to iTunes and sign up for it. It'll automatically come to you. You can listen to them again and again. That's a growth plan. If you're going to continue growing, you need to have good mentors, people that know more than you, people that have gone where you're going. Let them speak into your life. Listen to their ideas. Study them. Find out how they think and how they do what they do. You could even learn from their mistakes.
I heard about this company of sales associates. There were about 300 of them in the same room, all from the same company. The speaker asked how many of them knew who the top three salespeople in the company were. Every hand went up in the room. He then asked, "How many of you have taken one of them out to lunch to find out how they do what they do"? Not one hand went up. There are people all around us God has put in our path on purpose so that we can gain wisdom, insight, knowledge. But we have to stay open.
Look around this week and see who God put in your life that you could be learning from, and I say this respectfully, but don't waste your valuable time with people that are not adding anything to your growth. Life is too short to hang around people that are not going anywhere. Destination disease is contagious. If you're around them long enough, it'll rub off on you. You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that challenge you to rise higher, people that make you better. Not people that are constantly dragging you down, trying to convince your destiny is too important for that.
Young people, you may not be the most popular person in school, but I've learned after 20 years nobody really cares who the most popular person was, and that person that's getting all the attention now, it may be because they never study, they're far out, they've got more bling. Listen, in 20 years, the bling doesn't matter. What matter is, did you get a good education? Did you get a good foundation that you can it's funny, in school, the science fair is never the most popular event. Being in the math club is never as popular as being on the football team.
Some of my friends that played sports made fun of people that were on the debate team, but now they work for people that were on the debate team. Listen, high school, junior high, those are critical formative years, and these days, there's so much emphasis on sports, and I love sports. I grew up playing sports, I still do. Sports teaches teamwork and discipline and camaraderie, and that's all great. But we need to keep it in perspective. Most people are not going to play sports for a living.
I read where one in one million kids will play professional basketball. I don't mean to depress you, but if you're white, it's one in five million kids. I made that up, but it's probably right. The average... it's not that funny. The average professional football career is 3 1/2 years, and even if you do make it, that's great, but you still need a good foundation.
When you study, you learn, you take school seriously, other students may call you a geek, a bookworm, a nerd. Don't worry about it. In a few years, they'll call you boss, they'll call you CEO, president, senator,
I read where Henry Ford, Harry Firestone, and Thomas Edison all had homes next door to each other in Florida. And they spent much of their summers together. It matters who you associate with. Now, if your friends are Larry, Curly, and Moe, you may have a good time, but are they adding the scripture says to redeem the time. You need to see time as a gift. God has given us 86,400 seconds each day. Just like you spend money, you are spending that time.
If you're hanging around people that have no goals, they haven't grown in 5 years, time wasters, then you're not being responsible it is critical that you surround yourself with the right people. If you're the smartest one in your group, your group is too small. You need to be around people that know more than you, that are more talented, that are more experienced. Not to be intimidated, but to be inspired.
If you take an oak tree seed and you plant it in a 5 gallon pot, that tree will never grow to the size that God created it to. Why? Because it's being restricted by the size of the pot. In the same way, God has destined you to do great things. You have talent, ability, potential on the inside. But some of you are being limited by the size of your environment. The people you're around think small, they're negative, they'll pull you down. Listen, you got to break out of that pot. God has destined you to soar. Surround yourself with people people that inspire you to rise higher.
My question today, are you doing anything strategic and intentional to keep growing? It's not too late to become all God's created you to be. First step, develop your personal growth plan. It can be something like I'm going to take the first 20 minutes every morning and meditate on God's word. I'm going to put in a teaching CD driving to work. I'm going to take 15 minutes before I go to bed and read a book. I'm going to be in church each week. I'm going to hook up with my mentor and glean from them. That's a definite plan.
When God sees you taking responsibility for your growth, he'll reward your efforts, and in the coming days, you're going to have an opportunity to step into a new level of your destiny. God has shifted things in your favor. There is promotion, opportunities, businesses, divine connections, books. It's all in your future. But what I'm saying is now is the time to get prepared. Don't get caught with destination disease. The treasure in you. It's got to be developed.
Redeem the time. Make a decision to grow in some way every day, and if you'll keep sharpening your skills, getting better at what you do, God promises your gifts will make room for you. Now, I believe and declare because you're prepared, just like David, God is going to thrust you to a new level of your destiny. He's going to open doors that no man can shut. You're going to go further than you can imagine and become everything he's created you to be.