Joel Osteen — Stay Committed
I want to talk to you today about staying committed. We all have opportunities to give up on what we're believing for, walk away from an uncomfortable situation, slack off and not be our best. But if you're going to reach your highest potential, you have to stay committed. You can't be moved by what's not working out, and give up on a child because he's not doing what he should, or slack off at work 'cause you're not being treated right.
You have to have a made up mind that you are in it for the long haul. It may be difficult, you have a good reason to walk away. Don't take the easy way out. Stay committed to your marriage, stay committed to raising those children. Stay committed to your friends. They may make mistakes. Give them some grace. Don't be a fair weathered friend. Be committed in the good times and the tough times. Stay committed to your dreams. Don't give up on the promises God put in your heart. It may be taking longer than you thought, but God is still on the throne. He's a faithful God. He's already set the time to bring it to pass. Stay committed to your church. Stay committed to your job. Be a loyal person, somebody they can count on day in and day out.
You're not always going to feel like it. There will be good days and tough days, times when it's exciting, times when you feel like giving up. That's when you have to dig your heels in and say, "I'm going to do the right thing when it's hard. I'm committed to this marriage. I'm going to love you even though you don't deserve it. I'm committed to this job. I'm going to be my best even though my supervisor isn't treating me right. I'm committed to my dreams. Not going to give up because I don't see anything happening. I'm going to keep believing, expecting, thanking God. I know it's on the way".
God rewards consistent, faithful, committed people. But too many people are wishy washy. They'll love you as long as you perform perfectly. If not, they're out of there. They'll be their best if you keep them encouraged, keep them propped up. They'll pursue a dream as long as they're getting good breaks. Their commitment is based on things going their way. But when it's difficult, when it's taking longer than they thought, they get discouraged and start to slack off.
"Well, Joel, I don't like my job. They don't treat me right. That's why I show up late. That's why I play on the computer half the day". You're not working unto people, you're working unto God. He's keeping the records. The scripture says, "Promotion doesn't come from the north or the south, it comes from the Lord". "Well, they don't pay me enough. I'm undervalued. If they would pay me more, I would do more". But if you don't pass the test of being your best where you are, showing up on time with a good attitude, doing more than you have to, then you'll get stuck, and they may not be paying you what you're worth, but your job is not your source, God is your source, and yes, God uses people, supervisors, companies, but don't get them mixed up with your source.
If you see your company as your provider, your boss as your source, then in a sense, you're making them your God. You're letting them control your destiny. They determine how high you're going to go, and if for some reason they don't like you, they're not for you, too bad, you're limited. No, stop looking to people and start looking to God. He not only controls your destiny, he controls the whole universe. He determines how high you're going to go. No person, no supervisor, no company can stand against God. He knows what's happening, he sees what's unfair, and when you stay committed to your job, when you keep being your best day in and day out despite who doesn't like you, God will make it up to you. God is your source. He has the final say.
"Well, Joel, it's difficult to stay committed to my job, committed to my marriage, committed to this dream. Nothing's going my way". If it was easy, everyone would do it. God chose you because he knew you can handle it. You have the courage, the strength, the talent, the anointing. You're not weak, you're not lacking. You are full of can do power, and you didn't come this far to stop now. The people that see dreams come to pass are the people that stay committed.
I've heard it said on the road to your destiny, halfway through, every person will be tempted to give up. Some turn around and go back, the others stay committed and keep moving forward. What's interesting is both people travel the same distance. One goes halfway back to where they started, the other goes halfway ahead and reach their goal.
Committed people outlast the difficulty. Committed people stick with the relationship even though they have a right to walk away. Committed people go the extra mile and do more than they have to. Is there an area you've been tempted to give up in, or just slack off, not be your best? God is saying, "Stay committed. Stay faithful. Stay loyal". Committed people reach the fullness of their destinies.
My parents started Lakewood in 1959 with 90 people. My father always knew that he would pastor a church with thousands. God put that dream in his heart. But for 13 years, Lakewood didn't grow, had less than 200 people. One reason we're here today is because my father stayed committed. He didn't say, "I'm committed as long as it's growing. I'm committed as long as it's exciting, as long as things are going my way".
He was committed when nothing was changing. He preached 3 times a week to those 90 people like he was preaching to 90,000. He never missed a service. Year after year, no growth, no increase, but in 1972, it was like God flipped a switch. People began to come from all over the city, grew to thousands and thousands.
The dreams God's placed in your heart, the promises you're standing on, may be taking longer than you thought. You don't see any sign of it happening, that's a test. Are you going to get discouraged and give up on what you're believing for? Stay committed. Keep doing the right thing. God is in control. He sees your faithfulness. Like with my father, you're going to come in to your season of favor. Your dream is right up in front of you.
2 Kings chapter 2, the prophet Elijah was about to be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. He had an assistant named Elisha. Elisha was like a son to him. Elisha took care of Elijah. He went with him everywhere and made sure that he had what he wanted, and in verse 2, Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here, I'm going to the city of Bethel".
Now, Elisha knew the prophet was going to be taken away. He knew he was coming to an end. He could've thought, "All right, I'm going to stay. After all, his life's almost over". Instead, Elisha said to him, "As surely as the Lord lives, I will never leave you". They went together to Bethel. In Bethel, Elijah said, "Stay here, I'm going to the city of Jericho". Elisha said it again, "As surely as the Lord lives, I will not leave you". They arrived in Jericho. Elijah told them the third time, "Stay here, I'm going to the Jordan river". Elisha said the same thing, "I will not leave you". Three times Elijah tried to get rid of him.
Three times he said, in effect, "You've done enough. You've served me well all these years. You've been faithful, loyal. Take some time off, go relax". Elisha wouldn't hear of it. His attitude was, "I'm committed to you. I'm going to stick with you through thick and thin. I was with you in the good times when you were performing miracles. I'm going to be with you in the tough times as you come to an end". Nobody would've faulted Elisha if he'd have walked away. His boss told him to. He had a good reason, but he wouldn't slack off. He wouldn't take the easy way out. He was committed, he was loyal, he was someone you could count on.
As they crossed the Jordan river, Elijah said to him, "What do you want me to do for you before I leave"? Elisha said, "I want a double portion of your anointing". He said, "You've asked a hard thing, but if you see me when I'm taken away, you will have it". In a little while, as they were walking along, a whirlwind took Elijah up into the heavens. His mantle fell on Elisha. Elisha picked up Elijah's rod, struck the Jordan river, and it parted. Elisha ended up performing twice as many miracles as Elijah.
Here's my point. He would've never seen the double portion if he had not stayed committed. If he had left the first time Elijah told him to go, or the second time, or the third, he wouldn't have seen the fullness of his destiny. There will be plenty of times where you're tempted to walk away, walk away from a dream. "It's been too long, it's never going to happen". Walk away from a marriage, walk away from a church, walk away from a job. They don't appreciate you. They never tell you thank you. You could slack off, take the easy way out, but what you can't see is there's a double portion up in front of you. Stay committed when it's hard. Do the right thing when the wrong thing is happening. Keep loving that man, that woman even though they don't deserve it. When you stay loyal, consistent, faithful, a double portion is coming, double favor, double honor, double resources. God will pay you back for staying committed.
But this double portion isn't for everyone. It's not common, it's not ordinary. It's for people that do more than they have to, for people that go the extra mile, for people that don't give up when it's not exciting. It's for people like you, people that stay committed. I could imagine after Elijah told Elisha to stay that third time and he wouldn't do it, Elisha must've thought, "That is one stubborn boy. He will not change his mind. He is determined to take care of me".
That's the way you have to be to see God's best. There has to be a stubbornness. "I'm committed to this marriage. Leaving is not an option. I'm committed to my children. No matter what they do or don't do, I'm going to be there for them. I'm committed to being my best at this job". You don't let people talk you out of it. You don't slack off 'cause it's not fair, you're lonely, you're not making progress.
You have a made up mind, and when you stay committed, God will make things happen that you couldn't make happen. Suddenly, things will turn around. Suddenly, your marriage will improve. Suddenly, your business will take off. Many of you have passed this test. You've been committed. You've been doing the right thing. Be encouraged, you are close to your double portion. You are close to a breakthrough, close to meeting the right person, close to your new level.
When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he was so distressed that he sweat great drops of blood. On the way to calvary, he was so beaten and bruised, he fell down under the weight of the cross. He could've said, "God, it's too much. I did the right thing, but these people treated me badly. They mocked me, ridiculed me, sent me to the cross. I'm done, I've had enough".
Jesus stayed committed. He was committed when it wasn't fair. He was committed when he had every right to give up. Nobody would've faulted him if he would've walked away, but he was in it for the long haul. He was stubborn when it came to fulfilling his purpose.
Where are the people that will do like Jesus and stay committed? People that don't give up 'cause it's not fair, people that don't slack off 'cause it's taking longer than they thought? People that have a made up mind.
In 1960, a young man opened a pizza place in Michigan. He was an orphan that had been raised in a catholic orphanage. He borrowed $900 and started this small pizza place. He had all kinds of bad breaks. A business partner got into his account and stole several thousand dollars, his life savings. In 1968, a fire burned his building down. The insurance company paid him a penny on the dollar. He could've gotten discouraged, thought, "This is not meant to be".
But this young man stayed committed to the dream God placed in his heart. He had an idea. Instead of people having to come get their pizza, he decided to take the pizza to the people. He came up with the first delivery service, he called it Domino's. He started with one restaurant, $900. Today, there are over 6,000 Domino's. A few years ago, Tom Monaghan sold his company for a billion dollars. He's incredibly generous. He helps underprivileged children around the world.
What am I saying? When you stay committed, God will open doors that you could never open. God will bring you into you double portion, and you may have plenty of reasons to give up on your dream. Like him, you've had disappointments, setbacks. That's all a part of the process. When you get knocked down, you have to get back up again. God didn't bring you this far to leave you.
Don't settle for mediocrity, God created you for greatness. There is something in you that will cause you to stand out, something nobody else has, nobody else can do. God put a seed in you so you can leave your Mark. Don't let people talk you out of it. Don't let failures convince you to give up. Don't let delays and detours cause you to get discouraged.
I know a man, had an idea for a business, he was turned down by 31 banks, 31 experts told him it wasn't a good idea, he was wasting his time. You would think he would get the message after 31 banks said NO. But like Elisha, this young man was stubborn. Those banks said, in effect, "Go away, leave. It's not a good idea". He said, "No thanks. I'm committed to my dream".
When God puts a dream in your heart, it won't go away. You can try to push it down, dismiss it, but that seed is still alive. This young man went to bank number 32, they loved the idea. He started his business. It's expanded all over the world, totally taken off. Other people may have told you NO, but when God says YES, his YES cancels out their NO. His YES overrules what people are telling you.
Stay committed to your dream. Do the right thing when it's hard, when you have permission to give up on it. "Joel, the bank told me NO". Or you have permission to walk out of a relationship. "Elijah said I could go". Be an Elisha. Stay committed, stay loyal, stay faithful.
In the scripture, Joseph and Mary were planning their wedding. It was an exciting time. I'm sure their friends and family were so happy for them. Life was good until God interrupted their plans. An angel appeared to Mary and told her she was going to have a baby without knowing a man. He would be the Son of God.
While she was excited, she wasn't looking forward to having this conversation with her fiance. You can imagine how that went. "Joseph, I have some interesting news. I'm pregnant, I'm having a baby. No, it's not your child, but don't worry, the angel said I'm going to give birth to the Messiah". You could hear Joseph saying, "Yeah, right. What kind of angel was that"?
Joseph was an honorable, well-respected man, and back in those days especially, having a baby out of wedlock was a big disgrace. This was going to make him look bad, so he was going to quietly call things off, not embarrass Mary. But an angel came to him and said, "Take Mary as your wife. Everything she's told you is the truth".
Joseph could've said, "That's all fine and good, but I didn't sign up for this. I don't want all this controversy. People tarnishing my reputation, always talking bad about me". He had plenty of reasons to back out, but Joseph did the right thing when it was hard. He was committed, he was loyal.
In relationships with your spouse, your children, your friends, there may be times you have a good reason to get out. They did things to hurt you, they didn't perform perfectly, they let you down. You could justify walking away. Nobody would fault you, but when you're a Joseph, when you're committed, you show mercy, you give second chances, you make allowances for mistakes. They may not deserve it, they were guilty, but only the guilty need mercy. Stay committed to your family. Stay committed to your friends. Be someone they can count on.
A true friend walks in when everybody else walks out. A true friend will be there for you not just when you succeed, but when you fail, and I realize there are times that a relationship comes to an end, you have to move on, but don't let that be a pattern, where you bail out if they're not meeting all your demands, living up to your expectations. People make mistakes. Good people can blow it. People that love you can let you down. God rewards people who are consistent when life is complicated. People that will stick with someone when they don't deserve it, people that will be their best when someone else was at their worst.
Years ago, Jim Baker, the former head of the PTL Television Network, went to prison for not handling things properly. He admitted he made mistakes and it was a big scandal all over the news. When he was about to be released from prison, our friend Franklin Graham, Billy Graham's son, contacted him and said the Grahams wanted to rent him a house and provide him a car to drive. Jim baker said, "Franklin, you can't do that. I have too much negative baggage. You can't be associated with me, you'll be criticized". Franklin said, "Jim, you were our friend before you went to prison, and you will be our friend afterwards".
The first Sunday he was out, Ruth Graham, Billy's wife, called the halfway house where Jim was staying. She asked the man in charge for permission for Jim to come to church with their family that Sunday. He approved, and as he arrived at the church, they took Jim down to the front row and sat him next to Franklin. There were two empty seats next to him and Jim didn't know who they were for, but right before the service started, a side door opened. Billy and Ruth graham came out and sat down right next to him. Billy graham was saying to his friend Jim, "I'm committed to you. You can count on me. I'll be with you in the good times and I'll be with you in the tough times".
You can tell who your true friends are, not when everything's going great, not when you succeed, but when you fail, when you get off course. I'm asking you to be a loyal person. Stay committed to the people God's put in your life. They're going to make mistakes, they're going to do things you don't understand. They don't need another judge condemning them. They don't need more guilt and shame, they've got enough of that. You can help love them back into the wholeness. You can be the friend that walks in when everybody else walks out.
When you're committed, when you're loyal, doesn't mean you're approving their actions. You're simply showing them the mercy that you would want God to show you. You're being a healer, a restorer. They have enough things pushing them down, let's be people that lift them up. Too many people today, they're fair weather friends. They'll love you in the good times and walk away in the tough times. Our attitude should be, "You can count on me. I'm committed to loving you. I'm committed to being good to you. I'm committed to defending you".
There are relationships that will go to a new level if you would quit basing your commitment on somebody's performance, and let them know you're in it for the long haul, through thick and thin, through the good times and the tough times. That takes the pressure off. There's a freedom, a security when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are for them.
I read about two young men named Jim and Phillip. They were best friends in high school, practically inseparable. They went to college and played sports together, and after they graduated, they both joined the marines, and one day, they were in Germany on a battlefield in the midst of this very fierce battle, gunfire was going everywhere, bombs were going off. They finally heard the command to retreat. As they were running back, Jim noticed that Phillip wasn't around with him. He began to panic. He rushed to the commanding officer and asked permission to go back and look for his friend.
The officer said, "Are you crazy? That would be committing suicide. You don't have a chance to go back in all that gunfire". Without missing a beat, he turned around and took off running, defying his orders. In a few minutes, the officer saw him hobbling back, carrying the lifeless body of his friend. The officer screamed at him, "You could've been killed. I told you not to go. I knew your friend was already dead". He said, "No, sir, I got there just before he died. His last words were, 'I knew you would come back.'"
That's what I want our friends, our family to say about us. "I knew you would come back. You were committed. You were loyal. You were somebody I could count on". Is there some area you're tempted to give up in or maybe just slack off, not be your best? God is saying, "Stay committed. Keep doing the right thing". You can't see it, but up in front of you is a double portion.
There's something more rewarding than you could imagine, and yes, it may be difficult, but you are well able. Make up your mind, you are in it for the long haul. Be stubborn when it comes to not giving up. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, like Elisha, you're going to see double favor, double honor, double resources. God's going to open doors no man can shut, and take you to the fullness of your destiny in Jesus' name.