Joel Osteen — Take Control of Your Happiness
I want to talk to you today about taking control of your happiness. Some people are sacrificing their own happiness to try to keep everyone around them happy. They've got to stop by a friend's house to say 'hello'. If not, they may get upset. They've got to work late every night. If not, the boss may be unhappy. They've got to loan this friend money. They're in trouble again.
If they don't meet all these demands: rescue this person, keep this person fixed, solve this person's problem. Then they'll fall out of somebody's good grace. Somebody won't understand. But God did not call you to keep everyone happy. It's good to be loving, kind, generous. But you are not responsible for other people's happiness, you are responsible to keep yourself happy.
"Well, Joel, if I don't loan them the money". "If I don't bail them out again for the twelfth time, they may get upset with me". Maybe it's time for them to be unhappy instead of you to be unhappy. If they get upset, they're not friends, they're manipulators. And your time is too valuable to go through life letting people control you and make you feel guilty if you don't come running every time they call. And the easy thing is to just give in and bail them out and don't make any waves. But as long as you rescue them, and you're there to keep them fixed and to keep them cheered up, you're not really helping them; you're becoming a crutch. You're enabling the dysfunction.
The only way they're going to really get free is for you to not meet all their needs and not come running every time they have a "Emergency". You've got to put your foot down and say, "I love you but I'm not going to let you control me". "I love you but I'm not going to jump every time you call". "I love you but I am not going to feel guilty if I don't meet all of your demands".
If somebody is controlling you, it's not their fault, it's your fault. You have to set some boundaries. Quit allowing them to call you all hours of the day and night and dump their problems on you. That's why we have voice mail. Quit catering to them every time they throw a fit. Ignore it. Quit loaning them the money every time they make poor choices. Don't take on that false sense of responsibility. You are not the Savior of the world. We already have a Savior. You're not supposed to keep everyone happy, everyone fixed. If you take on that job, the one person who will not be happy is you.
I know this man and for years he had a problem paying his rent. My heart went out to him and I helped him again and again. Every other month, practically, he would explain how something had come up and he couldn't make his payment. After about the fifth emergency, I started to wise up. He told how his client hadn't paid him. The money should show up any time. A relative got sick. He had to travel out of town. On and on. After this long sad story, he looked at me and said, "Now Joel, what are we going to do".
I didn't say it, but I thought to myself, "We're not going to do anything because this is not my problem. This is your problem and I'm not going to feel guilty because you keep making poor choices". I believe I would still be helping him today, five years later, if I had not put my foot down.
A lot of times, we do things out of guilt. "Well, I should help him, I feel like. And if I don't, I'm going to feel bad about it". But if that person is not taking responsibility, you're not really helping them, you're hurting them. They're not having to deal with the real issues. And some people are always having a crisis. They're always in need.
And it's good to help them once, twice, a dozen times, be kind, show mercy. But five years later, they're still having those regular emergencies, counting on you to come running. If you keep giving in, it's just like they have you as a puppet. They know if they pull this string, you'll feel guilty. Pull this string, you'll come bail them out. Pull this string, then you'll stay late and do the project for them.
My message today is "Cut the strings". No more puppets. No more letting them make you feel guilty. No more come running. "Well, Joel, if I do that, they may not be my friend any more". There's your answer. God may have just closed that door for you. The truth is if they get upset because you don't meet every demand, and they give you the cold shoulder because you don't call on cue, they're not really a friend. They're a controller. And the sooner you break free, the better off you're going to be.
It's like a little child, a toddler. If every time they throw a fit and you come running and give them what they want, they'll continue to do that. They know what they have to do to get their way. But if you let them throw that fit a dozen times, and even though they're hollering and screaming, you ignore it and go about your day, enjoy your life, before long they'll realize throwing a fit doesn't do any good and they'll have to change.
It's the same principle in adults. As long as somebody can pressure you into doing what they want, they will continue to do it. But when you don't respond to their fits, you don't let their guilt cause you to give in. You don't come running every time they have a need, that will force them to look inside and deal with the real issues.
I have some friends, this couple, this first several years of their marriage was very miserable. The young lady went through some unfair situations as a child and she was extremely unhappy. Extremely negative. If she didn't get her way, she would throw fits. Go four or five days having a pity party, pouting. Her husband is as good as can be. He did everything he could to try to keep her happy. He was constantly encouraging her, trying to fix her problems. Telling her everything was going to be OK.
For three years, he catered to her night and day. Basically, giving up his happiness to try to keep her happy. One day, it dawned on him she's not going to change. He realized even though he had good intentions, he wasn't helping her. He had become a crutch. And he told her, "I love you but I cannot make you happy. I've tried everything I can and I'm done trying". And as harsh as that sounds, she said that was the best thing that ever happened to her. That forced her to look inside and deal with those issues.
You may be in relationship with somebody like that. Don't take on that false sense of responsibility. God did not call you to be unhappy in order to keep somebody else happy. Yes, there may be seasons where we make sacrifices and we have to put up with some things to help a friend get well. Or help a loved one overcome. But you cannot let a season turn into a lifetime where you are sacrificing your happiness, not pursuing your dreams, putting your life on hold to try to keep somebody else happy.
Life is too short to go through it, letting people control you who will not make good decisions for themselves. There's a fine line here but you are not responsible for your spouse's happiness, your children's happiness, your friends happiness. You can't make people do what's right. No matter how hard you pray. How hard you try. You can't make a family member serve God. You can't make a friend stay out of trouble.
And when we love people, it's very easy to take on that responsibility and spend all our time and energy thinking we've got to get them fixed. The problem is some people don't want to be fixed. You've got to turn those people over to the Lord. Quit being frustrated because they won't do what's right. That's what it means to become codependent.
Somebody has a problem. They won't make good choices and you make the mistake of letting their problem become your problem. And if you're putting off your happiness until they change, you may be unhappy for a long time. Why don't you let that person off of your potter's wheel. You are not the potter. God is the potter. God knows how to get people to change. Your job is to love them, pray for them, help them when you can. But don't take responsibility for their poor choices.
I talked to a lady a couple of weeks ago in the lobby. Her 24 year old son has gotten way off track. And for the last three years, she's been emotionally drained and physically worn out. She looks ten years older than normal. You can see the weight of the world that she's been carrying. She's constantly rescuing her son. Bailing him out. Loaning him the money. She's giving up her happiness until her son gets straightened out.
And of course, we all love our children. We'd do anything in the world for them. But sometimes the best thing is to not rescue them. Don't keep enabling that dysfunction. In the story of the prodigal son, the young man took his inheritance, went out, wasted all the money. Partying, wild living, making poor choices. He ended up in the hog pen. No money, so desperate, and he was eating hog food to survive.
What's interesting is the father didn't go rescue him. The father didn't go bail him out, he didn't send his staff to get him all fixed up. He just left him there. The father went about his business living life, pursuing his goals. Eventually, Luke 15:17 said, the young man "Came to himself". He came to his senses and realized, "Hey, I'm making poor choices. I've got to get back on the right track". He went home and got his life straightened out.
And I'm all for helping people. Saving them whenever we can from heartache and pain. But some people, you can help them a hundred times and when they leave, every time they'll go right back to the mess they were in. The only way they're really going to get free is to come to a place where nobody's bailing them out, nobody's paying their bills, nobody's acting as a crutch. Then, like the prodigal son, at some point they're going to come to themselves. They're going to realize, "Hey, I've got to take responsibility for my life. I've got to rise up and become who God's created me to be".
But some of you today, you're doing too much for other people and not enough for yourself. You're so good hearted, so kind. You're sacrificing your happiness to keep everyone around you happy. Your first priority is to keep yourself happy. You need to evaluate your relationships. If you're doing all the giving and very little receiving, something is out of balance. If you have to keep that person cheered up 24 hours a day, something is wrong. You should be able to tell your friend, "No, I'm not going to be able to go". And them not try to make you feel guilty. If they do, they try to give you the cold shoulder, they get upset, they're not a friend, they're a controller.
Don't go the next 20 years trying to meet all their demands. The best thing you can do is cut the puppet strings. They're not really interested in you. They're interested in what you can do for them. You don't have time to play games, get distracted, entangled, trying to keep everybody around you happy. You have a destiny to fulfill. Be bold and take control of your own life.
When I was growing up, my grandfather would buy a new car every two years. And he would give one of us grandkids his old car. He was very generous. And when I was a junior in high school, my grandfather gave me his four year old Buick Lesabre. It had a lime green body and a white top. I loved my grandfather, but it was the ugliest car on the road.
One of my friends that I played basketball with, he had a car as well and we decided to carpool. I'd go pick him up a week and take him to school and he would drive me the next week. He lived about 15 minutes in the opposite direction from the school. So I'd have to go all the way that way and come all the way back by my house. I didn't mind doing that. He drove a week. I drove a week. This happened two or three times. Then his car was in the shop. Then his brother needed to borrow the car, he couldn't drive.
Then something else came up. It got to where I was driving all the time. And I really didn't mind it but it didn't seem like he was grateful. He acted like I owed it to him to go pick him up. And one day, I got my nerve up and I asked him if he was ever going to drive again. And he explained how he was trying to keep the mileage down on his car. And basically that I needed to keep picking him up. He acted like he was doing me a favor to ride in my car. And even though my car was ugly, he didn't deserve being in it.
I did what I'm asking you to do. I was very polite. I had a big smile on my face. But I told him, I'm sorry, I'm not going to be able to come out there and pick you up anymore. You would have thought I told him his life was coming to an end. He tried to put me on the biggest guilt trip. He told me how selfish I was being. He would hardly speak to me again. I thought, "That is fine with me. If he's only going to be my friend if I meet all of his demands and cater to his every need, good riddance, I don't need friends like that". Go find somebody else to control, but you're not going to control me.
I don't mind being good to people but I do mind being used. And if you allow it, people will run your life. They'll tell you what to do and where to go and how to dress. How to spend your money. It's good to get free from addictions, free from debt, free from depression. But one of the greatest freedoms is to get free from people. Quit letting people pressure you into becoming something that you're not. Quit living on egg shells, thinking you're going to fall out of their favor. If you don't perform perfectly, call them on cue, come running every time they asked. "Then Joel they may get upset with me".
My message today is let them be upset. If you spend your life trying to please everyone, letting people control you, you may make them happy but you will miss your destiny. I would rather please God and have a few people upset with me than to please people and have God upset with me. You need to especially be careful of high maintenance people. That's what my friend was. High maintenance people you can never do enough for them. No matter how much you do, they expect more. You've got to be available 24-7. Run their errands, compliment them, keep them cheered up. If not, they get their feelings hurt. They try to make you feel guilty. Don't go year after year playing up to people like that. High maintenance people are impossible to keep happy. If you do that, all it's going to do is end up frustrating you.
A friend of mine is a pilot. He told how there are four main principles in flying an airplane. There is lift, thrust, weight, and drag. You have to take into account all four of these to make sure the plane will fly. Most people fall into one of these four categories. There will be people who lift you, brighten your day, make you feel better about yourself. When you leave, you've got a spring in your step. They're lifters.
There are people who will thrust you. They motivate you. They inspire you. They challenge you to move forward and accomplish your dreams. They are thrusters. Then there are people who are a weight. They pull you down. When you leave, you feel heavier, discouraged, negative, worse than you were before. Number four, there are people who are a drag. They've always got a sad story. Had a flat tire, dishwasher broke, goldfish died, mother-in-law just moved in permanently. They're always in the pits and they expect you to cheer them up, to solve their problems, to carry their heavy load. In life, we all encounter people from these four different groups.
Here's the key: make sure you're spending the majority of your time with lifters and thrusters. If you're only hanging out with weights, with drags, they will keep you from becoming all God's created you to be. Some people have a perpetual problem. They always got a sad story and if you allow it, they will use you as a trash can to dump all their garbage. You spend an hour with them and feel like you just ran a marathon. They're energy suckers. You leave drained and worn out.
You cannot continue to put that in day after day and expect to reach your highest potential. You will not lift off. You will not be thrust into the amazing future God has in store if you are weighted down, letting people dump their problems on you, make you discouraged, taking all your energy, thinking that you have to spend your time keeping them fixed, keeping them encouraged. No, it's hard enough to keep yourself encouraged. Don't take responsibility for their happiness.
And yes, I realize there are times that we need to sow a seed, be a listening ear, help love somebody back into wholeness. But that should be for a season. Not an ongoing drama to where everyday somebody calls you and tells how bad their husband's treating her and how the neighbor didn't do her right. They're in the pits. Now they're expecting you to work your magic. It's like guiding light, jersey shore, real housewives of Beverly Hills all put into one.
Listen, you've got enough drama in your own life without listening to everybody else's drama. You cannot put that negativity in and expect to soar like God wants you to. And some of you if you don't make an adjustment in this area and not spend so much time with the weights and the drags, it'll keep you from God's best. "Well, Joel, what if they get their feelings hurt"? Well, what if you miss your destiny? "What if they get upset with me"? Well, what if you don't accomplish your God-given dreams? Pay attention to who you're spending time with. Are they lifters? Are they thrusters? Do they motivate you? Inspire you? Challenge you? Leave you better than you were before? Or is it just the opposite? They drag you down.
Many years ago, I used to get my hair cut by this young lady. She was as nice as can be. Had a great heart but she was very negative. And every time I went in, month after month, year after year, she would tell me all of her problems. How the owners weren't treating her right. They were making her work long hours. She had a sister that was causing her problems. She was never sure she could pay her rent each month. Her father wasn't well.
When I left, I always felt so heavy, so discouraged. And I did my best to encourage her. I would pray with her, I spoke faith into her. I gave her money. I sent her customers but it was never enough. And one day, I realized what I'm telling you. I cannot go where God is taking me with her in my life. I love her. I pray for her. But I cannot fulfill my destiny with that weight and drag being put on me every month. And I made a change. It wasn't easy because you never like to hurt somebody's feelings. But I knew my assignment was too important, my destiny was too great, to allow someone to continually pull me down.
You too may have to make a change in where you do business, in where you work out, in whose phone calls you take. Don't let that negativity go into you day after day. You need to be around other thrusters, other lifters, people that motivate, people that inspire. That's why so many people are drawn to our ministry. There are enough weights, enough drags. I'm going to push you forward if you get around me. I'm going to do my best to encourage you, to challenge you, to inspire you, hopefully leave you better than you were before.
Now I know some of you work around people who are a weight. Or you go to school with people who are a drag. You don't have a choice. You have to be there. Here's the key: before you go to work, before you go to school, you've got to get prayed up, praised up, encouraged. You've got to set your mind that it's going to be a great day. You cannot go into that negative environment in neutral, you've got to get already filled up, already encouraged. Don't let your guard down. Stressed out because of the traffic. Worried about your deadline. Listen to the news. No, if you're not on the offensive, the weights and drags will pull you down.
On the way to work, maybe it's a 20 minute drive. Why don't you put on some good praise music. Get your spirit person built up. Have a grateful attitude. Start thanking God for what he's done. Or put on a good teaching CD. Something that inspires you, motivates you, and then start talking to yourself the right way. This is going to be a great day! I have the favor of God! I am strong in the Lord! I can do all things through Christ! Something good is going to happen to me today!
That's how you stay strong and not let the weights and drags pull you down. You've got to build up that resistance. Well, what happens if you live with a weight? Perhaps you're even married to a weight; married to a drag. Don't look at your spouse now. That wouldn't be good. You've got to do the same thing. Take extra doses of praise, encouragement, inspiration. Stay filled up. And while God is in the process of changing that person, don't let them steal your joy.
Some people don't want to be happy. They like living in the pits. You've got to have the attitude, "If you don't want to be happy, that's fine. But you're not going to keep me from being happy". "If you want to live in the pits, that's your choice but I'm not getting in the pits with you". Take responsibility for your own happiness. Don't let those issues sour your own life. Pray for them, be respectful, but don't become co-dependent where you let their problem become your problem and you miss your destiny.
Friends, it's time to break free. Is there something keeping you from being happy? Are you allowing somebody to control you? Make you feel guilty because you don't meet all their demands? Why don't you cut the puppet strings? Set some boundaries. Don't miss your destiny trying to keep everyone happy, everyone fixed. God did not call you to be unhappy to keep somebody else happy. Make sure you have plenty of thrusters and lifters in your life. If you'll learn this principle of taking control of your own happiness, I believe and declare this is going to be a new day. Bondages that have held you back for years are being broken right now. You're going to step into a new sense of freedom, a new sense of joy, a greater happiness. You will overcome every obstacle, defeat every enemy and become everything God's created you to be. In Jesus' name.