Joel Osteen — Treat Every Person Like a Gatekeeper
I want to talk to you today about treating every person like a gatekeeper. A gatekeeper is someone God has ordained to open a door for you. They are linked to your destiny, to introduce you to someone, to put in a good word, to give you wisdom or advice that will thrust you forward. They didn't come into your life by accident. God divinely orchestrated your paths to cross.
It's important to realize a gatekeeper may not be who you would expect. It may not be the boss. It may be the intern that just started. It may not be the friend with all the connections. It may be the lady at the grocery store that you see each week. It may not be the head coach. It may be the young man that cleans the locker room.
Many times gatekeepers are disguised. God uses people that we might consider to be less influential, less important, somebody underneath you at the office. Don't write them off. Don't be too busy and not give them the time of day. Treat every person with respect and honor. Make them feel valuable and important. God brought them across your path for a reason. They may have an idea that will thrust you forward. They may introduce you to someone that will open up a door. Or they may be just a test.
God wants to see how you're going to treat somebody that you don't think can do anything for you. Bottom line is this. If you will treat every person like a gatekeeper to your destiny one of them will be. God will open the right doors. When I look back over my own life I can see time and again it wasn't always the most influential, the most important people that helped me to move forward. It was ordinary people that God used to connect me with people of influence.
One summer on vacation I asked the hotel bellman for directions to a certain church. The bellman was a young man in his early teens, happy go lucky, working the weekend shift, probably not making much more than minimum wage. He said, "The church you want to go to is way too far. You'll never get there in time. But there is another church about ten minutes down the road. I think you'll really like that".
I could have thought, "How's he going to know what I'm going to like? I'm the pastor of a big church. I know what kind of church I'm going to like". No, we took his suggestion and we went to that church. We ended up meeting the pastor and developing a friendship. It was a divine connection. That pastor introduced me to a publisher that he knew that offered me a contract to write my first book. I wrote that book and it thrust me to a new level of my destiny. But it all started back with that young man at the hotel parking cars, taking care of the luggage. Yet it was his input that catapulted me further than I ever imagined.
You never know who God has ordained to be a gatekeeper in your life. Treat every person with respect. It's easy to dismiss people, not give them the time of day. Especially people that we think are under us, not as important. "He's just parking cars". "She's just answering the phone". "I'm in management. They're in maintenance". "I'm staying at the hotel. They're just working at the hotel". No, the very ones that we dismiss, the ones we think, "Don't bother me. I'm important. I'm educated. I'm busy". No, they could be the link to you stepping into the fullness of your destiny.
Don't write people off. Don't judge by the outside and think, "Oh, they don't have anything for me". No, you'll be amazed at who God will use. In the old testament, God used a donkey to speak to people. Stay open. God can use anybody.
It's like this eighteen-wheeler I heard about. It was carrying this large load of pipes. It went under a bridge and the driver didn't realize the load was too high and it got stuck under the bridge, wedged in there. Traffic was backed up for miles, people barely getting through. The city had a crew out to jack up the bridge trying to get the truck out with no success.
As the crew sat there frustrated a man drove by with his ten-year-old son. The boy rolled down the window and said to the crew, "Why don't you let the air out of the truck tires"? They scratched their head and said, "Why didn't we think of that"? They deflated the truck tires and just drove it out.
Friends, God doesn't use just who we might expect. God uses the weak to confound the wise. Let's stay open. Let's treat every person like a gatekeeper to our destiny. Jesus said in Matthew 25, "When you're faithful with the small God will make you ruler over much". I believe this principle is true with people. When you take time for everyone - and I say this respectfully - but even people that you might see as small; people under you at the office, younger, not as experienced. You don't think they have much to offer. But when you show respect and listen to what they have to say and value their opinion, when you're faithful in the small, that could be the link to you coming into much.
I'm convinced there are times that we miss opportunities for advancement because we don't realize the lady at the grocery store, the young man at the hotel, the new teacher that moved into the school that we're not really paying any attention to, they are divinely linked to our destiny. If we will treat every person like a gatekeeper God will get us to where he wants us to be.
We see this principle in second Kings, chapter five. There was a very important man by the name of Naaman. He was the captain of the Syrian army, very well respected, influential-one of the great leaders of that day. But Naaman had a problem. He had leprosy, a dreaded disease. You can imagine he had gone to the best doctors, gotten the best treatment, the best advice. Nothing had helped. He continued to go downhill.
But there was a young lady that worked at Naaman's home as a maid. She had been captured from the Israelites. During the day she would do the laundry, cook the food. Compared to Naaman, what she was doing would have been considered insignificant. But one day she said, "Naaman, if you'll go see the prophet Elisha over in Israel, he will pray for you and God will heal you of that leprosy".
Naaman could have said, "Who are you to tell me what to do? I'm a captain. I've got influence. You're a maid. You're not even my nationality. You're a part of the enemy". He could have dismissed her and not given her the time of day. But Naaman understood this principle that you never know who a gatekeeper to your destiny is going to be. He went to see Elisha, traveled a great distance, knocked on the door. Elisha sent his servant to the door. Elisha didn't even get up off the chair. The servant said, "Naaman, Elisha says if you'll go wash in the Jordan river seven times you'll be healed".
It's not a coincidence that this powerful, influential, respected man was greeted by another servant. God is showing us you never know who the gatekeepers will be. This time Naaman got kind of upset. He said to his men, "I've traveled a long way. I thought at least Elisha would come out here and say hello. Doesn't he know who I am? Besides, I don't want to wash in the Jordan river. That river is dirty. We have much cleaner rivers back at home".
He almost talked himself out of it but one of his servants said, "Naaman, if he had asked you to do something hard you would have done it. Why don't you do this easy thing"? Isn't it interesting? That was the third servant that spoke to him. God didn't use the powerful, the most influential. God used people that he might consider to be less significant. Naaman finally swallowed his pride and went and washed in the Jordan river. When he came up the seventh time his skin was just as clean as a little baby. But it all went back to that first young lady, that maid. She was a gatekeeper. If Naaman would have blown her off, not given her the time of day, he would have missed his miracle.
In the same way, you don't know who your gatekeepers are going to be. God will bring people across your path that may seem insignificant, people that are under you, but they are divinely linked to your destiny. They hold the key to promotion and increase. Really, what that is is a test. God wants to see are we going to treat all people with respect and honor or only those that we think can do something for us? A lot of times the people that we're playing up to, trying to win their favor, maybe they'll open a door. The fact is, they're not a gatekeeper. They don't hold the key. Promotion doesn't come from them. Promotion comes from God. And God will use the most unlikely people. A hotel bellman. A maid. An intern. An unpopular kid at school. Let's pass the test and treat everyone like a gatekeeper.
When I was in my early twenties I was in the airport traveling back home to Houston. I had had a real long week, very tired. I couldn't wait to get on the plane and just lay my head back and relax. They finally allowed us to board. I had a whole row to myself. But right before they closed the door this elderly gentleman got on and came over and sat down next to me. He was the friendliest, kindest, most talkative person in the world. In fact, all he wanted to do was talk.
And normally I enjoy visiting but this day I didn't feel like it. I was tired. So every opportunity I could I tried to end the conversation. I got my magazine out and acted like I was reading, hoping he would take the hint. He kept talking. I closed my eyes, laid my head back like I wanted to sleep. He kept talking. Started to watch the movie. He kept talking. This was twenty years ago. I think he's still probably talking.
And I wasn't rude. I wasn't disrespectful but I wasn't very friendly. I didn't engage in the conversation. I just nodded my head every once in a while. The plane had to stop in Dallas. He said, "Well, I sure enjoyed talking to you, but I'm going to have to get off here". I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that". I repented later. But I thought I could finally get some rest. But right before they closed the door to continue on to Houston one of the most famous basketball players in the world got on the plane. He's in the hall of fame, one of my favorite players, and he came over and sat right in that same seat right next to me.
It's funny. All of a sudden I wasn't sleepy anymore. I was wide awake and ready to talk. I smiled at him and said, "How's it going"? He didn't say a word. I thought he didn't hear me. I smiled bigger and said it louder. "How's it going"? He looked at me and said with the biggest snarl, "Not very good". He might as well have said, "Kid, you bother me and I'm going to punch your lights out".
That next hour he never said a word, never gave me the time of day, didn't even look in my direction. When we got off the plane I thought, "Fine. I never did like you anyway".
Here's my point. I was ready to talk because there was somebody I thought was important, somebody that I was interested in. I had no problem giving him time and energy because of who he was. He's in the hall of fame. But the fact is he wasn't a gatekeeper to my destiny. He's just a sour hall of famer with no personality. I wonder what would have happened if I would have given that elderly gentleman the same time and energy and enthusiasm.
Friends, the gatekeepers God brings across our path may not look like we would expect. They may not be a hall of famer. They may be disguised as an elderly gentleman sitting by the plane wanting to talk. I don't know. Maybe God was going to have him open a door or to connect me with someone he knew or to give me invaluable advice or even bigger than all of that maybe God just wanted me to make him feel loved and valuable and respected and important. Maybe it wasn't about what he could do for me but what I could do for him. Instead of being concerned about what I could get I should have been more concerned about what I could give, how I could make a deposit into his life.
The way you can tell how mature you are is how do you treat people that you don't think can do anything for you. We can all be kind to the boss. He may give us a promotion. We can all be friendly to the cheerleader at school, to the guy that plays on the football team. If they like us everybody will be our friend. That's easy. But if we're going to pass the test and come across our true gatekeepers we've got to learn to be good to everyone.
Jesus said, "When you do good to the least of these you're doing it unto me". When you go out of your way to befriend that unpopular kid at school, the ones nobody hangs out with, Jesus said, "It's like you're doing it unto me". Instead of rushing by the parking lot attendant you see at work each day, you take time to see how they're doing. You bring them a cup of coffee in the morning. You're doing it to your Heavenly Father.
That person at the office that others may see as second class. They don't know much. They don't have any good ideas yet you take time to listen to what they have to say. You invite them to meetings. You help them get more experienced. Then as you help others it's just like a boomerang. That help is going to come right back to you.
I love the story my friend Phil Munsey told. He's the pastor of the Life Church in Southern California. He was at a gas station filling up his car. This man pulled up in a fairly nice car and got out and started going around asking people for money for gas. Phil could see that he was coming in his direction. Phil loves to be good to people. When he came over Phil said, "Hey, don't say a word. I've got you covered. I'm going to fill your car up with gas". He only wanted five dollars but Phil put nearly $50 worth of gas in his car. He was so appreciative.
Before Phil left he reached in his car and handed him a copy of his book and said, "Here, take this and read it". As Phil was pulling away he noticed that man was showing it to another man that had pulled up on a motorcycle. He was explaining how this total stranger just filled up his car with gas. He was so excited.
Well, about a year later Phil was in a car dealership getting his daughter's car fixed. Just passing the time he walked over to the showroom to look at the new cars. This man walked out that worked there. Come to find out he was the general manager in charge of the whole place. Phil said, "Hey, tell me about this new car". He looked at Phil and his eyes got real big. He said, "I know who you are. You're the man that filled up a total stranger's car with gas a year ago. I was on a motorcycle and I saw the whole thing take place".
He was so impressed with what Phil did, he was so moved. He said to Phil, "Whatever you need I want to help you. I'll fix your daughter's car for you. I'll make you a deal you can't refuse. Anything you want, you've got it". Now when Phil goes into that car dealership they treat him like a king.
Here's my point; when you do good God not only sees it, he will cause other people to see it. That man saw Phil being good. He ended up being a gatekeeper. He opened a door of favor and increase that Phil would have never experienced. When you do it to the least of these you're doing it unto God. I wonder how many good breaks we miss out on because we're not treating every person like a gatekeeper.
So often we tend to categorize people and we think, "Okay, they're important. They've got something I want. I've got to be good to them". No, God's ways are not our ways. When you realize God has ordained every person that comes across your path then you will go out of your way to make them feel respected, make them feel honored. Not only because it's the right thing to do, because they are God's children, but knowing as well that they are divinely linked to your destiny. Either that act of obedience in treating them right is passing the test and will lead to something greater or they may be a gatekeeper that will open the door to favor and promotion.
Pay more attention to who God brings across your path. Sometimes all it takes is holding the door open for a stranger to make their day. Just giving a smile. Just making the person at the grocery store feel welcome. Just reaching out to that person at the office that nobody pays attention to. It not only lets them know that somebody cares, but you don't know, they may be a gatekeeper in your own life.
That's what happened to a friend of mine. We played baseball together. After high school he joined this team that traveled all around. Most of the young men were college level players, very talented. They had all grown up together, knew each other very well. My friend was not only new but he wasn't quite as talented as those other players.
During the season, coach would hardly ever put him in. He would go four or five games and never play in even an inning. The other young men, they were good people, but they sort of treated him as second class. Really didn't give him the time of day. But there was one young player. He was the star pitcher. He went out of his way to include my friend, to make him feel welcomed and appreciated.
One day my friend invited this pitcher over to his house just to hang out. It just so happened that his sister was there. His sister is very beautiful, very talented. The pitcher and the sister met and they ended up going out on a date. Long story short, today that pitcher is not his friend. It's his brother-in-law. He ended up marrying his sister.
You never know who the gatekeepers are going to be. Don't overlook the people God has put in your life. Others may see them as second class, not as talented, not up to par. No, treat every person with respect. Go out of your way to make them feel valuable and important. They are divinely linked to your destiny. You don't know. Like in this case, they may open a door that nobody else could open.
That's what we see with Joseph. He was in prison for something that he didn't do. There were two people in the prison with him, Pharaoh's butler and Pharaoh's baker. One night they both had a dream and they didn't understand what it meant. The next morning Joseph saw that they were worried and frustrated. He asked them what was wrong. They said, "We had this dream but we're troubled by it. We don't understand what it means". Joseph said, "No problem. I can help. I can interpret dreams. Tell me what they are".
Notice Joseph went out of his way to help them. Joseph could have had a chip on his shoulder. He could have said, "Don't bother me. I've got enough problems of my own. Do you know my story? I was betrayed by my brothers. I was sold into slavery". No, Joseph understood this principle to treat every person like a gatekeeper. He interpreted that dream.
Eventually the butler was released from prison. Two years later Pharaoh had a dream that he didn't understand. He was upset and worried. The butler said to him, "I know somebody that can interpret dreams. His name is Joseph. He is in prison". They brought Joseph out of prison. Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dream and Pharaoh put him in charge over all of Egypt. But had Joseph not taken time for the butler and been good to him, he might not have ever gotten out of prison.
See, your destiny is not just between you and God. It is connected to certain people that God has ordained to come across your path. When you realize that every person could be a gatekeeper, every person is divinely linked, then it's easy to take time for people and to treat everyone with respect and honor.
Back in the early 1980's there was a young African-American police chief brought into our city. His name was Lee Brown. My parents reached out to him to welcome him to town, let him know that the people of Lakewood loved him. We were praying for him, behind him. We believed in him. He would come out to the church and we would pray over him.
Over the years he would invite my parents to go pray at different police and city functions. They developed this friendship. My parents weren't trying to get anything. They didn't have any ulterior motives. They were just being good to somebody that God brought across their path.
Later he went from chief Brown to mayor Brown. He served six years as our city's mayor. In 2001, Lakewood was out of room and we needed a larger facility. I was at lunch with a friend. He told how the Houston Rockets Basketball team was going to move out of the Compaq Center and this place was going to become available. At that time it was a city owned facility.
When I heard that something leaped on the inside. I got back from lunch and I immediately called the mayor. It happened to be mayer Lee Brown. I asked him about the possibility of Lakewood getting the Compaq Center. I'll never forget what he said. Without missing a beat he said, "Joel, I think Lakewood having the Compaq Center would be great not only for Lakewood but I think it would be great for the city of Houston as well".
When I heard that I could only think back to all those seeds of kindness and respect and honor that my parents had sown down through the years toward mayor Brown. Mayor Brown was a gatekeeper that God had ordained to open up a door to something that we could never open without his help. He returned the favor by being so gracious and kind as we worked together to make this happen.
When you're good to people you are sowing seeds. When you make people feel loved and welcomed and appreciated you're going to come across your gatekeepers. That person you're being good to, they may do you a favor or they may end up doing your children a favor. They may open the door for one of your grandchildren. You never know who is going to benefit because of your seeds of kindness.
My challenge today is to treat every person like a gatekeeper. When you take time to help others, really, you're helping yourself because every seed you sow you're going to reap a harvest. Every good deed you do, every time you go out of your way to make someone feel special, God sees it. He will make sure that the right people come across your path.
Remember, the gatekeepers may not look like you would expect. God used a maid with Naaman, a hotel bellman with me, a man in prison with Joseph. Treat everyone with respect. Not just the people that you think are important. When you're faithful with the small God will make you ruler over much. In the coming days people are going to come across your path that God has ordained. They are divinely linked to your destiny. They hold the key to promotion and increase. Don't overlook them. Go out this week and be good to the people that are in your life. If you will learn to treat everyone like a gatekeeper to your destiny God will open up the right doors. You will come into favor, promotion and increase. I believe and declare you will become everything God has created you to be.