Joel Osteen — The Right People
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I want to talk to you today about "The right people". Who you spend your time with will have a great impact on what kind of life you live, and there are people that God has already ordained to come across our path to help us fulfill our destiny, people that will inspire us, challenge us, and make us better. The right people have already been lined up, but here is the key: if you're spending time with the wrong people, you will never meet the right ones.
If you're hanging around people that are not going any place, people that are dragging you down, causing you to compromise, draining your energy, you're going to get stuck. You can't hang out with chickens and expect to soar with eagles. You're going to become like the people you continually associate with.
You want to know what you're going to be like in 5 years? Look at your friends. If your friends are going places, people of excellence, kind, considerate, generous, those qualities are going to rub off on you. But if your friends are negative, critical, unmotivated, compromisers, mediocre, indifferent, this is your wake-up call. You're not hearing this by accident. It's time to make changes. You need some new friends.
You're not going to become who you were created to be hanging around them. You don't have to be rude, you don't have to make some big announcement, just little by little start distancing yourself, spending less and less time with them.
Proverbs says if you walk with wise men, you will become wise. It says don't hang around a hot-tempered person, or you'll become hot-tempered. Another place, don't spend time with people that talk too much, or you will talk too much.
Notice the principle: whatever qualities your friends have, either good or bad, eventually will rub off on you. Spirits are transferable. If you hang out with a gossip, before long you'll be a gossip. You hang around people that compromise, run around on their spouse, before long you'll be a compromiser, but here is the good news. If you hang around excellent people, excellence will rub off on you. If you hang around generous people, you'll become more generous. If you associate with successful people, people that are determined, motivated, going places, those same good qualities will become a part of your life.
This is why it's so important that you are selective with whom you spend your time. You can't just take it by default and think, "Well, these are the people I work with. They're my friends". Or "They're in my class at school. This is who I hang out with all the time". Or "They moved next door, so now they come over every night". No, make sure they have the qualities you want. You need eagles in your life, people that inspire you, people that motivate you to go further, people that make you better.
I have a friend. He treats his wife so great. He's always buying her things, sending her flowers. He writes poetry. One time, he read this poem that he wrote for her. It was so gushy and so romantic, I thought, "That makes me sick". But the truth is he inspires me to treat Victoria better. He makes me want to come up higher in that area. I tried writing her a poem, but turned out like a rap, so I forgot about that. But seriously, we shouldn't hang around people that are disrespectful to their spouse, people that put down their families.
I used to play basketball with a young man, and he always referred to his wife as his old lady. "Let me call my old lady. Let me see what my old lady is doing". He was a nice guy, but I didn't want that old-lady spirit getting off on me. I want my wife to stay young, fun, beautiful, energetic. You go around talking about your old lady long enough, and you'll have what you say. She'll become old, mean, grouchy, wrinkled. Don't you dare complain about her. You called her in, but that old-lady spirit was a red flag. I thought, "You know what? He's not for me".
We have to set these boundaries. You hear somebody that's always negative, critical, finding fault, that's a red flag. They're not for you. Somebody that's hot-tempered, always getting upset, a red flag. You don't want those qualities. You can still be kind and friendly to them, but don't spend a lot of time with them. Be selective, and I realize sometimes at home or work we don't have a choice of who we're around. God will give us the grace for those situations. I'm talking about when you do have a choice.
Life is too short to waste your valuable time with the wrong people. This is the number-one thing that I see that gets people off course, running with the wrong crowd. The longer I live, the more determined I am to not spend time with people that are never happy, people that don't have integrity, people that are small-minded, people that compromise. No, if you're going to reach your highest potential, you have to surround yourself with eagles, with people that bring out your wings, with people that cause you to soar.
I read where Thomas Edison, Harry Firestone, and Henry Ford had summer homes next door to each other in Florida. They were friends and would spend much of the summers together. You notice they didn't just associate with anyone. They associated with other dreamers, with other people of vision. No wonder they soared to new heights. God has some eagles in store for you, but if you're holding on to the chickens, you're never going to meet them.
The scripture says people that choose worthless companions bring shame to their parents. Are you hanging out with any worthless companions? Doesn't mean, of course, the people are worthless, but they're not adding any value to your life. They're not inspiring you to reach your dreams. They're dragging you down. For instance, you shouldn't go to lunch every day and sit with co-workers that gossip, complain, talk bad about people. No disrespect, but those are worthless companions. You are better than that.
"Well, Joel, if I don't go to lunch with them, I'll be lonely. I won't have anybody to eat with". Yes, you may be lonely for a season, but God will bring you somebody better. He'll send an eagle into your life. David said don't sit inactive in the path of the ungodly. That means don't sit there and let that gossip poison you for the next 20 years.
"What if I hurt their feelings"? What if you miss your destiny? You have a responsibility to protect what God has entrusted you with: your gifts, your assignment, your temple. Don't keep going to the gym with those same people that are causing you to compromise year after year. Find new friends. Don't sit inactive. If you're exposed to mediocrity long enough, that mediocre spirit will get off on you.
A friend of mine met this other man that was in his same field in his career and over the next few months they just hit it off and decided to start a business together. This other man was very smart, talented. He had a lot going for him, but he had a problem with his temper. When we would play basketball, he would lose his cool and get upset.
During the week, if he misplaced his keys or missed an important phone call, it would just set him off. He would get so angry, and they had this business plan all put together, looked like a deal that my friend couldn't refuse, but at the last moment he told this man that he didn't feel good about it. He was going to have to pass. Several years later, my friend met another man, an eagle, a man of great character and integrity. They started a business that today is extremely successful.
What am I saying? If you'll let go of the wrong people, God will bring the right people. Don't settle for a chicken. God has an eagle. He wants you to soar. My friend, he could have ignored the red flag, thought, "Oh, big deal he's got an anger problem. A lot of people are hot-tempered. It's not going to affect me". No, he understood this principle that eventually it would impact his life. He didn't sit inactive. He was smart enough to wait for the right people.
What you're unwilling to walk away from is where you stop growing. If you won't separate yourself from negative relationships, you won't rise any higher. God will never ask you to let go of something without giving you something better in return, and when you do what you know you're supposed to do, even when it's difficult, a blessing will always follow.
A blessing is always attached to obedience, but too many people are stuck. They're not growing. It's because they're still hanging around somebody they knew years ago they were supposed to get away from. They felt the uneasiness, they saw the red flags, but they kept putting it off again and again. The sooner you make these changes, the better off you're going to be. Don't spend your valuable time with people that bring out the worst in you. If your friends are causing you to compromise, be negative, complain, lose your temper, that's a sign that they're the wrong people. If you'll let them go, God has already lined up people that will bring out the best in you, people that will stir up your seeds of greatness, people that will inspire you to rise to new heights.
Scripture talks about how Daniel had an excellent spirit. If you study his life, you'll find that he had excellent friends. You know who Daniel hung out with? Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, the three Hebrew teenagers that wouldn't bow down to the king's golden idol. No wonder Daniel was a person of excellence. His friends were people of integrity, people of great courage, people that wouldn't compromise, people that had a big dream for their life.
Now, if your friends are Larry, Curly, and Moe, this may be a problem. Psychologists tell us there is something called "The law of the group". That is, we associate with people the way we see ourselves. Have you noticed how people that like to gossip find other people that like to gossip? Negative people gravitate toward other negative people, complainers find other complainers, thus the saying "Birds of a feather flock together".
My encouragement: make sure you're flocking to the right group. Victorious people associate with other victorious people. Successful people find other people that are successful. Happy people hang around other happy people. Eagles soar with other eagles. Young people, this is so important. Choosing the wrong friends can keep you from your destiny. Don't hang around people at school that have a bad attitude, that are always bucking the system, always getting into trouble. That may seem cool, but that's not cool at all. That's dumb. That's going to cause them to be a chicken when they were created to be an eagle.
Find friends that are going to make something out of their life. Hang around students that are disciplined, focused, people that are going somewhere. Don't worry about being in the right group, having the most friends, being the most popular. Listen, 20 years from now nobody cares who the most popular one was. The quantity of your friends is not important. It's the quality that really matters, and I would rather have one friend that has their head on straight, that's going someplace, than 20 friends that are only mediocre.
In school, the science fair is not that popular, the debate team, the math club, that never gets a lot of attention, but when you study, you learn, you make good grades, people may make fun of you, call you "Geek," "Bookworm," "Nerd". Don't worry. In a few years, they'll call you boss, they'll call you supervisor, senator, doctor, proverbs 27 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend". Your friends should be sharpening you, making you better.
Now, sometimes you can outgrow a friend. God had them in your life for a season. You blessed them, they blessed you, but now that season is over. Maybe you're growing at a different rate, but you have to recognize when their part in your story is over. Doesn't mean you can't ever see them again, but you know you can't spend the same amount of time and become who you were created to be. True friends will understand this. True friends won't try to make you feel guilty, keep it the same. They'll be happy for you. They'll celebrate where you're going.
See, just as God opens doors, God closes doors. You can't get stuck trying to hold on to something that's over and done. We don't like change. We want it to be just like it was when we were hanging out, growing up together, but now it's a new day, and sometimes the people that knew you back then will try to keep you in that box, keep it all the same, but God works in seasons. I've seen in my own life how God moves people out of the way and brings new people in. Bottom line is everybody cannot go where God is taking you. The higher you go, the tighter your circle has to become, the more selective you have to be.
Genesis 12, God told Abraham to leave his relatives, leave his father's house, and go out to a new land, and God promised that he would bless him in an amazing way. Well, Abraham went out, but he took his nephew Lot. God just told him to leave his relatives. It wasn't long after that that he and Lot had a disagreement. The land wasn't big enough to sustain both their cattle and livestock. Their workers began to argue, got into strife. It was a big mess. It could have all been avoided if Abraham would have left who he was supposed to leave.
How much conflict do we encounter, how much heartache do we have to deal with because we're still hanging around somebody that we knew years ago we were supposed to walk away from? Like Abraham, God promised to bless us, but because we didn't leave who we were supposed to leave, now we're having to deal with things that we should have never had to deal with in the first place. Abraham and Lot, there was so much conflict, they had to separate.
It's funny how God will always eventually get his way. But Abraham, he meant well taking Lot, that was his nephew, but just because somebody is related to you doesn't mean they're connected to you. They may have your blood, but they don't have your spirit. They may not have heard the call that God put on your life. This doesn't make them a bad person. It just means God has a different assignment for them, or perhaps they're at a different level in their growth, but for some reason they're not right for you, and this is one of the hardest things we have to deal with: letting go of people that are not supposed to be in our life.
Now, I'm not talking about your husband or wife. I always like to clarify this. Somebody flipping through the channel thought, "I just got my word from the Lord today. Thank you, Jesus". No, you're stuck. They're permanent, but in all seriousness there are family members and relatives that cannot go where you're going. You should always treat your family with respect, but you don't have to spend 24 hours a day with them. Some of your relatives, you have to love them from a distance. That family reunion once a year is all God's asking of you.
Now, that was worth coming to church for. But for Abraham, it kept getting worse. He and Lot separated. Lot was attacked and captured by an army. They stole all of Lot's possessions. It looked like he was done. When Abraham heard it, he thought, "Oh, man, it's my fault. I let him come. I've got to do something about it". So, Abraham rounded up all of his men, went fought this big battle, this big enemy and rescued Lot, but, once again, he wouldn't have been rescuing people, going to all this time, energy, trouble if he would have just left who Abraham was a Lot like us.
He wanted to be good to Lot. He thought, "God, I know you said don't take my relatives, but Lot wants to come, and I don't want to disappoint him". He did it out of the kindness of his heart, and how many times are we hanging around somebody that we know is not good for us, but we don't want to hurt their feelings, we don't want to let them down, so we keep putting it off, holding on to what we know we should let go of?
Here is the problem. Like with Abraham, later on, down the road, there'll be trouble, conflict, unnecessary heartache. We could avoid it if we would make the right choices today. What am I saying? Make sure you let go of what God's asking you to walk away from. Another thought: you shouldn't spend a Lot of time with people that are always negative, people that are always discouraged. You have to keep them cheered up, keep them fixed.
I'm all for helping people, all for being a blessing. Sometimes we have to love people back into wholeness, but if you're always giving and never receiving, that is an unhealthy relationship. You need to gradually make some changes. Don't let them continue to control you, make you feel guilty because you're not there at their beck and call. Until you put your foot down, they'll continue to use you, put their demands on you, drain all your energy trying to keep them happy, and this is the reason many people are worn out, stressed out, don't have any energy. They've got this false sense of responsibility, carrying this heavy load of trying to please everybody.
But here is the key: you are not responsible for other people's happiness. You are responsible for your own happiness. Everybody, I've learned, doesn't really want to be happy. They like the attention that it brings from always needing something. As long as you feel guilty and keep giving in, the one person that's going to be unhappy is you.
In the scripture, there was a paralyzed man. He had four of his friends carry him to a city where Jesus was teaching. You know the story. They let him down through the roof, Jesus touched the man, and he was healed. There are times in life we need to be like these friends and carry somebody, help them move forward, but if you're going to be who you were created to be, you can't always do the carrying.
If this man had not had friends that could carry him, he would have never made his destiny, and if you only have people around you that need to be carried, people that need encouragement, need help, need advice, need a ride, that's out of balance. You have to have people that can carry you, people that will help lighten the load. It's easy to think you can do it all, raise these children by myself, run my business, always giving, serving, sacrificing, but that's cheating yourself.
God has already lined up people to come into your life to help lighten that load, the people that will make your life easier, to encourage you, to give you advice, people that will open doors that you could have never opened. But if you are worn out trying to please everybody, then because you're so consumed trying to carry the weight, you're not taking the time to cultivate relationships that can carry you.
Sometimes it's pride, and we think, "Well, I don't need any help. I can do this on my own". The truth is you cannot reach your highest potential on your own. What God has planned for you is going to take more than just your faith. The faith of one is not going to be enough. Like this man, you're going to need the faith of five. You're going to need four friends that can lift you, carry you, help push you into your destiny.
Here is what I'm saying: you can't be so busy sowing into other people's lives, giving, serving, that you're not cultivating relationships that can carry you. God has friends lined up for you that don't need anything. They're stronger, they're smarter, they have more influence, more experience. You don't have to cheer them up, they'll cheer you up. You don't have to inspire them, they'll inspire you, buy your dinner, introduce you to their connections. Make sure you have people in your life that can carry you.
I saw something on the news about a little boy named Owen. He had a rare muscular disease, only 30 cases worldwide, where his muscles would tighten up. He couldn't walk, caused him a lot of pain. When he was around 6 years old, he got to the point where he didn't want to go outside. He was embarrassed at how he looked and got tired of people staring at him in the wheelchair.
He became very depressed, just spent all day alone in his room, and his parents, of course, were so discouraged and concerned. They did everything they could to cheer him up, with no success. One day, the mom was on Facebook, and she saw this big dog that was being put up for adoption, something like a st. Bernard, and when she saw a picture of that dog staring back at her, she fell in love with him.
Come to find out, this dog had been tied to a railroad track by people trying to get rid of it. Unfortunately, it was hit by a train and lost one of his legs. They adopted this dog as a surprise to their little son Owen. When Owen saw this three-legged dog, there was an instant connection. This big dog, when he first saw Owen, came in and put his head on Owen's lap right there in the wheelchair, just very gently. It's a very moving scene.
Owen turned into a different person. Now, he wanted to go outside. He wasn't embarrassed. He couldn't wait to show people his three-legged dog. He was so proud of this dog, he asked his parents if he could enter it into this prestigious dog show over in Britain. They entered the dog, and it won first place for best rescue dog. Well, Owen wanted to do it again, so he entered it into another dog show and another and another. Today, they have won first place in dozens and dozens of dog shows.
Here is my point: if God can bring a dog into a little boy's life to help him move into his destiny, how much more will God bring the right people into your life? God knows how to connect you with exactly who you need. He's already lined up the right people to get you to where you're supposed to be.
Now, remember this principle: if you don't get rid of the wrong people, you'll never meet the right ones. What you're unwilling to walk away from is where you'll get stuck, so on a regular basis evaluate your friendships. Make sure you're hanging around eagles, people that inspire you and make you better. If you'll do this, I believe and declare God is going to connect you to the right people for every season. He's going to bring eagles across your path. You're not going to get stuck, you're going to spread out your wings and soar into the fullness of your destiny.