Joel Osteen — Keep Your Walls Up
I want to talk to you today about "Keeping your walls up". It's easy to go through life letting everything get on the inside, offended by what somebody said, worried about a problem at work, upset because of a negative report. We can't stop all these things from happening. The key is to have walls built up so we don't allow everything in.
The scripture says to build yourself up. One translation says to edify yourself. The word "Edify" is where we get the word "Edifice," meaning building. This is saying, if you're going to stay encouraged, if you're going to enjoy your life, you have to build up these walls to where you don't allow the negative, the offense, the worry, the frustration into your spirit person.
We only have so much emotional energy each day. You will have opportunities to spend it on things that don't matter, stuck in traffic, stressed out, frustrated. You are spending emotional energy that you need for your own goals, your own dreams, or upset about what somebody said about you, thinking about how you're going to pay them back, calling a friend, "Can you believe they said that"? That's emotional energy you're not going to have for your own family, to play with your children at night. It's not only doing you a disservice, you're doing them a disservice. You've got to put some walls up.
Quit allowing everything on the inside. If you'll stay in peace, God will fight your battles for you. This is the reason many people don't enjoy life. Co-workers not treating them right sours the whole day. A problem at home, they're so worried, it's constantly on the forefront of their mind. There's always something keeping them offended, frustrated, stressed. It's like a dark cloud follows them everywhere they go. That cloud would leave if you would quit letting that get into your spirit person. It may come to your mind.
You can't stop people from saying things, you can't prevent all the negative, but you don't have to allow that to get into your spirit. You can dismiss it, and say, "You know what? I'm not dwelling on it. I'm not going the next three days worried, playing out all the what ifs, wondering why they said that". Proverbs says, "Above all else, guard your heart". You can't be passive and let everything in. You've got to be proactive and put some walls up. Guard what you dwell on. Be selective what you give your time and attention to. Your destiny is too important to allow poison in.
The truth is, we all have challenges, we all have things that come against us, but there are certain problems, certain situations, I tell my family, my staff, "I don't want to know all the details. Don't give me the 2-hour version, give me the 20-second version". I don't need to know what they said, and how upset she was, and how it's not going to work out, and they think you're too much of this. My attitude is, leave me in my ignorance. Just give me the bottom line. We've got a problem. That's fine, God knows all the details.
You can't put poison into you over and over and expect to live a positive, faith-filled life, and I know we make good decisions when we have good information, but sometimes we're getting too much information. We like the juicy details. It feeds our flesh, but it poisons our spirit.
A man said to me awhile back, "Joel, I heard so-and-so was talking about you. He said that..." and I stopped him right there. I said, "You know what? I don't really want to hear it. It's not going to benefit me in any way to hear the negative details". I put some walls up. I'm going to guard my heart. I need my emotional energy for my assignment, to fulfill my destiny. I'm not going to let that poison in.
My philosophy is, just give me the bottom line. "Joel, he thinks you're a lousy person". That's fine, I can handle that. Now, don't give me the expanded version. "He also said he thinks you smile too much and your accent is annoying. Your dog's ugly". No, do me a favor, give me the cliff notes. Give me the condensed version. Here's why, it's a lot easier to keep the poison out if you never hear it in the first place.
Now, don't get on social media, don't go on the internet and read every negative comment about you written by people that have to hide behind a computer young people... Students, don't read everything written about you at school. There's a lot of bullying these days through the internet, social media. You've got to be disciplined to not go there. It's very tempting to think, "Well, let me just see what they're saying about me". One phrase can poison you. You end up defensive, trying to over-compensate, insecure.
No, don't even go there. There are enough issues to deal with where we don't have a choice. Don't make it harder on yourself by taking in things that are unnecessary. If you do hear people talking about you, pay it no mind, give it no attention. It's a distraction. Instead of getting upset, instead of feeling badly about yourself, remember, they don't talk about ordinary people, they talk about exceptional people. They wouldn't be talking about you unless you were a cut above. Take it as a compliment.
In a race, nobody focuses on the people in last place. Nobody finds fault and criticizes those that are bringing up the rear. All the focus is on the winners. That's where the attention, the studying, and the analyzing, the critiquing is. If people are critiquing you, finding fault, trying to discredit you, it's because you're winning. You're out front. You're making a difference. I've learned, the more favor on your life, the more opposition it will stir up. Some people won't like you simply because of the blessing God put on you.
This is what happened with Cain and Abel. They were Adam and Eve's two sons. Cain ended up killing Abel. What's interesting is Abel honored God with his life. He was a person of excellence. He went around being his best. He had God's blessing and favor on him. He never did anything wrong to his brother Cain. He didn't disrespect him, didn't cheat him, didn't lie about him. Cain hated Abel simply because of the favor on Abel's life.
You have to accept the fact that some people will not like you and there's nothing you can do about it. It's not about you, it's about the favor God put on you. I've heard it said this way: the more vertically aligned you are, the more you honor God, the more horizontally challenged you'll be. A vertical relationship can create horizontal conflict. Can you deal with the fact that not everybody can handle your success, not everybody will celebrate God's blessing and favor on your life?
You have to be wise enough to realize, "These people don't like me, but it's not about me. I'm not going to be offended. I'm not going to spend time seeing how I can win them over, lose sleep thinking about what they said about me. No, I'm not going to waste my emotional energy on something that I cannot change. I know it's because of the favor of God on my life". That's how you keep your walls built up.
Think about Mary, the mother of Jesus. When she said yes to the angel, that she would have a baby without knowing a man, she had to accept the fact that she would be misunderstood by some people the rest of her life. The blessing, as great as it was, brought controversy. It brought opposition. She was celebrated by some and looked down on by others. There are times, like Mary, you have to accept the fact, "I may be misunderstood by certain people. They may try to push me down, make fun of me. But it's not about me, it's about the blessing God put on my life".
The real question today is, can you handle being blessed? David faced this as a teenager. He was out in the shepherd's field taking care of his father's sheep. One day, his dad asked him to take lunch to his brothers that were out in the battlefield. They had a much more prestigious, exciting position. David was stuck taking care of sheep. When David arrived with the food, you'd think the brothers would be appreciative. He was doing them a favor. But one of the brothers, named Eliab, tried to embarrass David. He said in front of all the men, "David, what are you doing here and with whom have you left those few sheep"?
He was trying to belittle David, make him feel small, discredit him. He was saying, in effect, "David, you're not important. You're a shepherd boy". Don't be surprised if God's favor on your life stirs up opposition in other people. It will stir up envy, jealousy, criticism. There was no reason for Eliab to be jealous. David was younger, smaller, out in the shepherd's field, in other words making minimum wage. Eliab was in the army. He had training, expertise, influence.
Why was he spiteful? He could sense the favor on David's life, and I'm sure David was tempted to be offended, get upset, discouraged, thinking, "I'm going to pay him back". No, David understood this principle. The scripture says, "David turned and walked away". He ignored the insult. Why? He had his walls up. If David would not have walked away, if he had not kept his heart pure, he would've never made it to the throne. If you don't learn to walk away from an offense, not dwell on what they said, not be upset because how they treated you, it can keep you from the fullness of your destiny.
Here's the key: don't waste your time trying to win over people that are never going to be for you. Don't waste your energy trying to convince people to understand you that are determined to misunderstand you. Your time is too valuable to try to prove to people that you really are okay, try to prove to them to accept you. No, you're not the problem, it's the favor they see on your life. That's what they can't handle. Now you just run your race, focus on your goals. God will bring the right people into your life. You don't have to play up to people, let them manipulate you and control you like a puppet. No, if they don't want to be your friend, let them go. They're not a part of your destiny. If they don't accept you, blow them a kiss goodbye and move forward with your lives.
I read a statistic that I liked. It said that 25% of the people you meet won't like you and never will, 25% won't like you but could be persuaded to, 25% will like you but could be persuaded to not, and 25% will like you and stand by you no matter what. Life gets a lot freer when you realize this person that doesn't like you, they don't give you the time of day, they're unfriendly, don't worry about it. Don't go the next two years frustrated, trying to win them over. Recognize that they're just one of the 25% that are never going to like you.
You could bring them flowers every day, give them a compliment every hour, mow their lawn every week, but that old goat... I mean, that person is still not going to like you. You shouldn't waste your time trying to win them over, trying to prove to them that you really are okay. Let it go. That's a distraction. You don't need their approval to become who God has created you to be.
I knew this couple years ago, and I really liked them, and I went out of my way to be friendly, but they were never really friendly back to me. They would be cordial and say hello, but always felt like there was something that was keeping them from accepting me. I couldn't understand it, especially as nice and good looking as I am. I went overboard trying to help them. I introduced them to people I knew. In fact, one contact led to them starting a business together. Eventually, they moved to another city, had to relocate. I found people to help them move, gave them a gift for their new home. In spite of all these things that I did, they never really gave me the time of day.
A few years later, I got word back that they were talking about me, and they didn't feel like I'd done enough, and I just hadn't treated them fairly, on and on. I thought to myself, "I could not have done any more". I wish I knew back then what I know now. It would've saved me a lot of frustration. They were just one of the 25% that were never going to like me. I was spending my emotional energy trying to win over someone that was never going to be won over. You've got to come to the place where you can say, "I'm at peace with them not being at peace with me. I'm at peace with not being their friend. I don't have to be in their group to enjoy my life".
Stay in peace. Keep those walls up. Too many people allow everything to come in. They live from offense, to stress, to frustration, to discouragement. You've got to guard your heart. Nobody can do this for you. The scripture puts it this way: "Think on things that are pure, things that are wholesome, things that are of a good report". It doesn't say, "Think on the offense, think on the people that won't accept you, think on your problems all day". No, think on good things. That's how you keep your walls built up.
If it's not positive, hopeful, productive, faith-filled, then don't dwell on it. You can't live a positive life thinking negative thoughts. You won't have a blessed day thinking about the offense and how unfair it was. You're not going to enjoy your life dwelling on your problems, worried, anxious, wondering if it's going to work out. No, you've got to guard your heart, and I'm not talking about ignoring problems, acting like they don't exist, shirking our responsibility. I'm talking about not letting it get down on the inside.
There are a lot of things that we cannot change. Trust is saying, "God, I'm not going to let this upset me. I can't make them like me, I can't make it work out my way, but God, I know you're still on the throne, you're fighting my battles, so I'm going to stay in peace and enjoy my life anyway".
I learned this principle from my father. He didn't live offended, upset, discouraged. He learned how to keep his walls up. One time, a staff member came to him and told him about this big problem in one of the departments of the church, a complicated situation. Several people were involved. This staff member was very stressed, almost panicked. He said to my father, "What are we going do"? My father said, "We're not going to do anything right now. I'm going to put it on a shelf and pray about it".
That was one of my father's favorite sayings. He didn't let the panic, the worry get on the inside. He had his walls up. Most of the time, this big problem, this big situation that he could've lost sleep over, could've worried about, over time, eventually it would work itself out. When a problem arises, it's easy to get riled up and think, "Well, I've got to do something about this right now. I've got to immediately solve this".
No, be still, and know that he is God. Have the attitude like my father, "I'm going to put this on a shelf, I'm going to pray about it, and I'm going to trust God to work it out". If you allow the panic in, then the worry will come, then the stress, you won't make good decisions. God works when we're in peace. That's why you have to constantly guard your heart.
All through the day, stuck in traffic, "No, I'm not going to let this stress in". At the office, somebody's playing politics, leaves you out, "That's okay, I've got my walls up. I'm staying in peace". The grocery store, somebody's rude to you, you're tempted to get upset, "No, I'm guarding my heart. I'm not letting that poison in".
If you'll keep your walls up, then when worry comes, offense, negative comments, it's just like you have a big sign on the outside that says, "You're not welcome here". I believe we can get to the place where nothing offends us. That should be our goal. I don't say this arrogantly, but you cannot offend me. You know why? I won't give you that power.
Here's the key: nothing can offend you without your permission. People can say whatever they want, but you have the right to ignore it. They can leave you out, but you have the right to have a good attitude anyway. They can try to belittle you, discredit you, but like David, you have the right to walk away and enjoy your day.
A man said to me after a service one time, "Joel, I just didn't get anything out of your message today. It just wasn't for me". I thought to myself, "I can't help it if there's something wrong with you". I just smiled and said, "Well, you know what, I hope you come back next week. I know it will be". Here's the key, if you allow someone to offend you, you are giving away your power.
Years ago, a lady said to me, "The reason I quit coming to church, the reason I haven't been there in two months, is because everybody was talking about me". I didn't say it, but I was thinking, "Lady, everybody doesn't even know you". If you sit over here, the people that sit up there probably have never even seen you. Tens of thousands of people came up and she thought everybody was against her. I wanted to say, "No offense, but you're not that popular".
Here's my point, when we're easily offended, everything is magnified, everything is blown out of proportion. Everybody's treating me badly. No, it was just Eliab. He was the only one. Everybody's talking about me. No, everybody doesn't know you. Put some walls up. Quit giving away your power. Quit letting those offenses in. Start ignoring the negative comments. Don't pay any attention to the Eliabs. If the favor of God wasn't on your life, they would leave you alone. That opposition is a sure sign God's hand is on you. He has an assignment for you. There is something amazing in your future. Now, do your part and quit allowing the same things to upset you, the same people to get on your nerves, the same traffic to stress you morning after morning, the same relative at the family reunion to frustrate you.
Friends, life is too short to live that way. Every day is a gift from God. What if you found out you weren't going to be here in six months, you learned that your time was coming to an end? How many of the things that upset you now would you allow to continue to upset you? How much of the offense, the frustration, the stress would you continue to let in? If you don't keep your walls up, it can keep you from the fullness of your destiny.
When we come to the end of life, I can't think of anything that would be much sadder than to have to look back and think, "Why did I waste so many days worried? Why did I live stressed out? Why did I let those people keep me offended? Why didn't I guard my heart"? You can make that decision right now. Jesus put it this way, very simple, "Stop allowing yourself to be upset". He didn't say, "I'll take away the offense, the rejection, the disappointments, the stress". No, those things will come. You can't allow them to upset you.
In other words, you've got to put your foot down and say, "That's it, I'm done worrying about my finances, my children, my health. I'm not letting that worry in. I'm done being stressed every time my plans don't work out. I'm not letting the stress in. I'm done living sour because I had a disappointment, I didn't get the promotion. I'm not allowing that poison in".
Now, the thoughts may come to your mind, but don't let them get into your spirit. Don't dwell on them. What we continually think about drops down into our spirit. That's when it can poison us.
In the old testament, when an enemy was going to attack a city, the first thing they would do many times was take these stones and throw them into the wells to try to clog up the water supplies. These people were called slingers. They would sling the stones from a great distance. Once the water supply was cut off, the people would have to come out of the city. That's when they would attack.
In the same way, every one of us has a well of good things on the inside, put there by our Creator. A well of joy, a well of peace, a well of creativity, a well of victory. The scripture says, "Out of your innermost being will flow rivers of living water". The problem too many times is we've allowed the slingers to clog up our wells. When somebody says something derogatory, tries to discredit you, you know what they're doing? They're throwing a stone toward your well.
If you get offended, upset, thinking, "I'm going to have to pay them back," then that stone lands in your well. It starts to clog up the joy, the peace, the victory. They've accomplished their goal. But when you keep your wall up, you don't get offended, you let it go, no big deal, that stone hits the wall, bounces off, and causes no damage.
We all have slingers in life. You can't go through the week without having stones of judgment thrown at you, stones of offense, stones of doubt, stones of self-pity. We can't stop the slingers from slinging the stones, but we can choose to have our walls up and not let it affect us.
Some of you today, you're not enjoying your life, you're enduring your life. It's because your well has become clogged. You've allowed some of these stones to get in. Now it's keeping you from experiencing the fullness of life, the fullness of joy. The good news is, it doesn't have to stay that way. You can unclog your well. If you will forgive the people that hurt you, let go of what didn't work out, shake off the offense, the bitterness, the disappointment, then the well of good things put in you by your creator will begin to freely flow once again. You will experience those rivers of living water. That's my prayer for you today, that you will see God's goodness in a new way, the abundance of his favor.
Now, make the decision with me to keep your walls up, guard your heart. Remember, you are only have so much emotional energy each day. Don't waste it on things that don't matter. Don't spend it trying to win people over that are never going to be won over. Use it for your own goals, your own dreams. If you will keep those walls up and, like David, walk away from offense, then I believe and declare no weapon formed against you will ever prosper. You will rise above every challenge, overcome every obstacle, and become everything God has created you to be.