Joel Osteen — Tell The People What They Can Become
I want to talk to you today about telling people what they can become. Very often we can see potential in other people that they can't see in themselves. When you speak vision into them, when you tell them what they can become, you can help set the direction for their life. Our words have the power to push people into their divine destiny.
The reason some people are not living at their full potential is because nobody has ever spoken faith into them. Nobody has taken the time to say, "Hey, you're great at this. You've got a gift here. You're going to do something amazing". All they remember are the negative things that have been spoken over them, how they're not that talented, how they've reached their limits. Now these incredible gifts, this potential, is lying dormant on the inside. One of our assignments in life is to call out their seeds of greatness.
Look around at who God has put in your life. They're not there by accident. God put them there on purpose. You need to study them. See what they're good at. What are their gifts? What areas do they excel in? Then speak vision into them. Don't just think about it. Tell them what they can become. One word of encouragement can be what ignites the greatness on the inside. When they know you believe in them they will rise up with a new confidence. They will believe in themselves in a greater way.
This is what Victoria has done for me. I never thought that I could get up here and minister. I'm naturally more quiet and reserved. I liked being behind the scenes. But ten years before my father went to be with the Lord, Victoria would tell me, "Joel, one day you're going to be the pastor. One day that's going to be you up there ministering". That seemed so far out I could hardly even entertain it. But to Victoria it was so clear. She could see it.
Here's the key; she didn't keep it to herself. She spoke vision into me. Again and again, "Joel, you're going to be a great pastor. You've got what it takes". One time when we were just married we were at home. Victoria was reading her Bible. She came across the scripture that says, "Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings". She came running into the room where I was. I remember it like it was yesterday. She said, "Joel! This is for you! You're going to stand before kings, presidents and world leaders".
I was 25 years old working behind the scenes. Doing the television production at the church. I thought, "What is this girl talking about? Who does she think I am"? But Victoria understood this principle. She wasn't telling me what I was. By faith, she was telling me what I could become. Today, many years later, I'm not only a pastor, I'm a good pastor. It's terrible to have to brag on yourself! Not only that, we've had presidents, world leaders, kings, sit right here before us. I would have never had the confidence, never believed that I could do it had she not spoken those seeds of faith into my heart.
There are people in your life right now waiting for your blessing, waiting for your encouragement. God has given you the ability to see what they cannot see in themselves. Don't be too busy. Don't think, "Oh, they already know it". No, take time to speak vision. Tell them what they can become. Your words can be what pushes them into their divine destiny.
One time years ago, Victoria and I were going to build a new house. We had just finished drawing the plans. I said to Victoria, "I need to go see Scott, our builder, to get him to give us a bid on this project". He had built us a house years before that we had sold. Victoria said, "No, Joel. You were at that other house practically every day when it was being built. We don't need a builder. You can build this house".
I said, "Victoria, what are you talking about? I'm not a builder. I don't know anything about construction". She said, "Sure you do! You can hire those subcontractors, oversee the construction. You're as smart as anyone else". Sure enough, I ended up building that house. It turned out pretty good. I forget the plumbing but other than that it was alright.
What am I saying? We all need somebody to believe in us more than we believe in ourselves. If you will be that person for somebody else God will make sure somebody will be it for you. I wouldn't be half of who I am if it were not for Victoria. She has spoken so much faith into me. She has called out the potential on the inside. What a great trait we should develop. After all, there are enough people trying to push us down in life. There are enough people telling us what we can't become and how we don't have what it takes. Let's do like she did and push people up. Look out through your eyes of faith. See the potential. Tell them what they can become.
Friends, every person has seeds of greatness. You can cause your children to rise to a new level. You can be the catalyst for your family to do things they never thought possible. Your words have creative power.
When you speak vision that can be the seed God uses to thrust them to a new level. And really, the most rewarding way to live is not, "How can I get blessed today? What can you do for me"? No, that's shallow. Turn it around. "How can I be a blessing? Who can I inspire to rise higher? Where are some seeds of greatness that I can call forth"? Be on the lookout to be a blessing. It's amazing how one word of encouragement can change the direction of a person's life. When you speak vision they can go from living average, mediocre, to doing something that they never dreamed of.
In 1975, a young man came home from college. He was struggling with what he wanted to do in life. He didn't have clear direction. He was at his mother's beauty shop that she owned, just hanging out, killing time during the summer. A customer came in named Ruth. He had seen her in there many times growing up before. He said hello, but Ruth kept staring and staring at him. Finally, she took the hair dryer off and said, "Somebody, give me a pen and a piece of paper". She began to write down what she felt on the inside. It said, "You will speak to millions. You will travel the world and make a positive difference".
She handed him the note and said, "Young man, this is for you. God has something amazing in your future". When he read it something came alive on the inside. He put that note in his wallet. Whenever he was tempted to get discouraged and give up on his dreams he would get that note out and think, "No, somebody believes in me. Somebody believes God has got a great plan for my life".
Today, many years later, Denzel Washington still carries that note around in his wallet. He's one of the great actors, the great filmmakers of our time. He is doing now what she said 37 years ago. She spoke vision into his life. Who knows where Denzel would be if Ruth Green had not taken time to tell him what he could become.
When Oprah Winfrey was seven years old she was in church one Sunday morning in Mississippi. As she left the auditorium an older lady stopped her, looked her in the eyes and said, "Young lady, you are as pretty as can be". Up to that point no one had ever told Oprah that she was pretty. When she heard that it changed something on the inside. A seed of greatness took root. For the first time she began to feel valuable, loved, beautiful; like a child of the most high God.
Had that lady not taken time to speak the simple compliment, had she been too busy or thought, "Oh, I'm sure this little girl has heard a thousand times that she's beautiful," I wonder if Oprah would have ever risen up to touch the world like she has. Would she have ever had the confidence, the self-worth, the self-image? Or would she have gotten stuck in a rut with low self-esteem, not feeling like she was good enough?
You don't know the impact your words can have. To you they may seem insignificant, like it's no big deal. To the other person they can be life changing. Parents, it's especially important that we speak vision into our children. On a regular basis you need to tell them what they can become and how they're going to do something great in life. Our words as parents carry incredible weight in a child's life. That's why we should never put our children down. Don't ever tell them, "You're slow, clumsy, dumb. Why can't you make good grades like your sister? Why can't you hit the baseball like your cousin"? Those words are like seeds. They can take root and still be playing in their mind many years later.
I know people that are grown, got their own families. They still struggle with the negative things that were spoken over them as a child. Your children need your blessing. They need to hear you say, "I'm proud of you. I'm glad you're mine. You're going to do something great in life". Keep a big vision in front of them.
Too many children are being crippled by low expectations. We have to call out their seeds of greatness. You've got to help them stir up the gifts God has put on the inside. Your children will rise to the level of your expectations. They're not just supposed to reach our level as parents. They're supposed to go further. In other words, you may have made C's in high school. That's okay for you but it's not okay for your children. Set the bar higher.
Let them know, "You can do better. We're not going to settle where I was". "If we have to get a tutor we'll get a tutor. If I have to stay up late and learn it with you I will. But you are destined to set a new Mark for our family".
What are you doing? You're calling out their seeds of greatness. When they know you believe in them, when they know you're expecting them to rise higher, it does something on the inside. Their confidence, their sense of value, their self-esteem, rises to a new level.
Victoria and I tell our children all the time, "Jonathan, Alexandra, you're not going to just accomplish what mother and I have. You have way more in you. Not only what we've poured into you but all that my father has poured into you, my mother, Victoria's parents as well. Imagine where God is going to take you. His favor, his blessings on your life in a greater way". See, speak vision into your children.
Let me tell you young people. We're expecting you to touch this world. You are not limited by your resources, by your family, by your background. Almighty God has equipped you, empowered you. He has given you creativity, ideas, inventions, skills, talents. You're going to go much further than your parents. I know I'm looking at the next great leaders: presidents, doctors, professors, pastors, artists, entrepreneurs. Don't you dare settle for a mediocre life. We are calling out your seeds of greatness.
One of you is going to discover the cure for cancer. One of you is going to be the next Steve Jobs, the next Billy Graham, the next great inventor, the next great scientist, the next great ball player. One of you is going to write a bestselling book, record a number one song, star in a blockbuster movie. God has something amazing in front of you. He has already put it in you. Now we're calling it out today.
Here's the key, you've got to do your part and stir up the gifts. Stir up the seeds of greatness. Don't just sit back and think, "Well, I'll try to go as far as my parents. That'd be okay". No, God is saying, "Go further. Dream bigger". You can touch our generation like nobody has before. I think about how every year technology is increasing. Understanding is increasing.
When my father was on the farm they didn't even have electricity. He saw the invention of computers and television and all kinds of technology. Think of the day we're living in. It is so far advanced compared to that day. Now young people, think about what you and I can do. We have unlimited opportunity but you've got to get a vision for it.
Don't believe lies that tell you, "You're just average. You're not really that talented. There's nothing exciting in your future". Hit the delete button. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Almighty God breathed his life into you. You have been raised up for such a time as this to leave your mark on this generation.
See, we didn't just happen to show up in the year 2018. Your parents didn't decide to just get together and have a child. Long before you ever got here, before the world ever existed, God looked down through the ages of time and he chose certain people to live in each generation. He chose Abraham to live in his day, David to live in his day, Ruth to live in her day, on and on. But when God looked way down to the year 2018 with all the opportunity, with all the technology, God thought, "Who can I choose to live in that day? Who can I trust to carry out my will? Who can I count on to bring about my kingdom"?
God didn't choose Moses. He didn't choose John the Baptist. He looked past Martin Luther King. He looked past Mother Teresa and he looked into your eyes and he said, "I choose you, and you, and you, and you". You are a person of destiny. Handpicked by the Creator of the Universe. Get that down in your spirit and make plans to do something great, to leave your mark on this generation.
I read an experiment that was done with a high school in California. This principal told these three teachers since they were the smartest teachers, the top three teachers, the most effective ones in the district, they had been chosen for a new program. They were going to take the top 90 students, the students with the highest IQ's and let them teach them at a faster pace. The teachers, the students, they were so excited about this new program. At the end of the school year these three classes had learned 30% more than the other students. They were 30% further along.
The principle then informed the teachers that this was all just an experiment, that they didn't really have the top 90 students. They had just been randomly selected. The teachers patted themselves on the back. They thought it was their great teaching ability. Then the principal broke the news they were not the top three teachers in the district. They were just the first three that had been picked out of a hat. They too had been randomly selected.
What am I saying? People rise to the level of our expectations. When you tell your children, your family, your friends, "You are smart. You are talented. You're going to do something great," you'll be amazed at what they can accomplish. Those teachers, those students, they had the ability to rise higher before. Why didn't they do it? Nobody called it out of them. Nobody told them what they could become. They got stuck in a rut and just kept coasting along.
Now you may not realize it but the only people we allow in Lakewood - we have a very strict policy - the only people we allow to watch are the smartest, the brightest, the most talented, the most creative, the most generous, blessed, faith-filled people around. You couldn't have gotten in here unless you were the cream of the crop. We have incredible confidence in you. We're expecting you to do amazing things in life.
I heard about an eleven year old boy. He was very talented, very creative. All of the students loved him but he wasn't very focused. He could easily be distracted. At the end of the semester he had a very important book report due. Like normal he waited until the night before. He ran up to the library, got a book, didn't even have time to read it. He just made up a story. This was an oral book report. The next day he got up in front of the class and he began to tell the most beautiful story, filled with all kinds of details and different twists and turns.
The teacher, the students, they sat on the edge of their seats listening intently in amazement at everything that he told. The next day he got his grade. It was an A+. The teacher had written a note. It said, "I read the book that you did a report on. It had nothing to do with what you talked about, but you are a fantastic storyteller. You have an incredible gift. You're going to do something amazing in life".
That young boy had never been told that he was creative. All he had been told was, "You're not focused. You're not disciplined. You're never going to amount to anything". That day something ignited on the inside. Today this gentleman writes movies for a living. He's at the top of his field. He always credits this teacher that instead of chewing him out and seeing everything he was doing wrong she saw what he was good at and called out his seeds of greatness.
That's what Jesus did. He saw potential in people. When Jesus chose the twelve disciples they were not perfect people. They had faults, weaknesses. Peter was hot-tempered and loud. Thomas was a doubter, skeptical, cynical. Matthew was a tax collector. They were known for being dishonest, manipulative. Yet Jesus looked them in them eyes - Matthew 5:14. He said, "You are the light of the world".
The truth is when he said it they weren't the light of the world. They were just ordinary people: carpenters, fishermen, tax collectors. But Jesus didn't call them what they were. He called them what they could become. He saw their potential. With his words he helped shape their future. Eventually they rose to what he called them to be. They became the light of the world. They became history makers.
Now you may have people in your world today that are less than perfect. You could easily focus on what they're doing wrong. How like Peter they've got a hot temper. Like the eleven year old boy they're distracted and not focused. Like Matthew they don't have a lot of integrity. You've got to do like Jesus. Don't call them what they are. Call them what they can become.
Listen, people are already beaten down enough by life. They already feel badly enough about themselves. You don't have to condemn them. I can promise you the enemy is doing it. He is called, "The accuser of the brethren". Don't get on his side. Stay on God's side. Focus on what they are doing right. Help them to figure out what they're good at and then call out those seeds of greatness.
That's what our friend, pastor Matthew Barnett, does. He runs the dream center out in Los Angeles. They deal with people that are coming out of very rough environments: drugs, gangs, prison, prostitution. From time to time Matthew will run into the leading drug dealer in that area. He'll go up to him and say, "One day you're going to be my youth pastor". They bring in girls that have been working the streets to his services. He'll tell them, "One day you're going to be on our worship team". He goes to the addiction classes, speaks to the people on parole. He tells them, "You're going to be my ushers, my greeters, my prayer partners".
They look at him like he has lost his mind. But over time, person after person, they become just what he said. Some of the most notorious gang members and drug dealers have gotten their lives turned around. Now they're the people that are running his church.
What's Matthew's secret? He doesn't call them what they are. They already know that. By faith he calls them what they can become. I wonder what would happen, if instead of telling people everything they're doing wrong and condemning them and trying to shame them into changing we would do like Jesus and look beyond the fault, beyond the addiction, beyond the bad habit and tell them what they can become. Everybody needs somebody to believe in them.
The reason some people are off course is not because they're a bad person. It's because their seeds of greatness have been pushed down. Now they've lost their sense of destiny, their sense of purpose and they're just taking the path of least resistance.
I read about a young man that got off to a really rough start in life. He was raised in the projects. His father was never around. His mother had plenty of problems of her own. Because of this poor home situation he was labeled, "A child at risk". He had heard that phrase his whole life. It became ingrained in his thinking. "There's no future for me. I'm a child at risk". He continued going downhill, getting in trouble again and again.
One day he was sent to the high school counselor. She tried to make headway but he just wouldn't listen. He said, "I'll never amount to anything. I'm a child at risk". She looked him in the eyes and said, "Listen to me. You are not a child at risk. You are a child at possibility". When he heard that it was like a bomb exploded. Something ignited on the inside. He sat up in his chair and said, "What do you mean, 'at possibility?'" She said, "You're a person of destiny. God's hand is upon your life. You are smart. You are talented. There is nothing you cannot do".
That day was a turning point in his life. He removed the "At risk" label and he put on the "At possibility" label. Today, Delatorro McNeal is extremely successful. He goes around speaking to other young people, telling them what the counselor told him. "You're not at risk. You're at possibility". That's the power God has given each one of us. With our words we can help set the direction of a person's life. All some people need is just one word of encouragement, just to know there are possibilities in your future, you're a person of destiny. You may have gotten off to a bad start but you don't have to have a bad ending. God can give you a new beginning.
Speak vision into people. Don't write them off. Tell them what they can become. Friends, most people will not reach their full potential without somebody believing in them. God is counting on us to call out their seeds of greatness. So many, like Delatorro, they have incredible talent and potential on the inside but it's been pushed down by bad breaks, by disappointments, by low self-esteem. They just need somebody to take the time and by faith tell them what they can become.
I really believe one reason God has shown our ministry so much favor is because we don't condemn people. We don't judge people. We don't try to make people feel bad. We tell them, "God is on your side. You have incredible potential. You can still become what he has created you to be".
My challenge; use your words to lift people. Call out their seeds of greatness. Push them into their divine destiny. If you will develop this habit of telling people what they can become then you'll see not only your family, your friends, rise to a new level but the seed you sow will come back to you. God will make sure you rise to a new level. I believe and declare you too will become everything God has created you to be.