Joel Osteen — Uncommon
I want to talk to you today about, "Uncommon". It's easy to fit in and do what everyone else is doing. Our neighbors complain, so we complain. Our co-workers show up late, so we show up late. Our relatives have addictions, so we have addictions. It's normal, it's common. But God did not create you to be common. He didn't breathe his life into you so you can do what everyone else does. You were created to be uncommon, to live by a higher standard, to do what others aren't willing to do, to believe for things that others think are too big. He created you to stand out in the crowd, to be a cut above.
Everyone at work may be complaining. That's common, but that's not you. You're uncommon. Instead of joining in, you find something to be grateful for. You don't focus on what's wrong, you thank God for what's right. Why? You're uncommon. People around you may have a small vision. They think they've reached their limits and now they've settled where they are and they're just going through the motions of life. That's common, but that's not you. You're passionate about your future. You believe for big things. You're expecting new levels. You know the path of the righteous gets brighter and brighter.
Or maybe everyone around you is compromising. They're not faithful in relationships, they're dishonest in business dealings, they'd do anything to get ahead. That's common, but that's not you. You're a person of excellence. You do the right thing when no one is looking. You keep your word when it costs you something. Other people don't understand. You could have compromised to get ahead. Nobody would have known. But you live by a higher standard.
Why is that? You're uncommon. That's the kind of people God rewards. Complainers are a dime a dozen. Compromisers are all around. Naysayers, "I can't accomplish my dreams," you'll see them every day. That's common. But God is looking for uncommon people, people that don't go with the majority, people that don't lower their standards. He's looking for people that go against the grain, people that have uncommon faith, that believe when it seems impossible. Uncommon commitment, that do the right thing when it's hard, and uncommon attitude.
When everyone around is negative, bitter, moody, you have a smile, you're kind, you're good-natured, and when you make this decision to not fit in, to not be like everyone else, but to be uncommon, then you will see uncommon favor, uncommon opportunities, uncommon breakthroughs, uncommon victories. But we are living in a day where the standards are being lowered, where it's acceptable to compromise, to not have integrity, to take the easy way out, and if we're not careful, we'll adapt to our environment. We'll become like everybody else.
But there's nothing special about common, nothing significant about ordinary. God wants you to stand out. When people look at us, they should say, "There's something different about them. They're a cut above. They're excellent. They're trustworthy, they're committed, they're loyal, they're happy". What they're really saying is, "They're uncommon".
Paul said in romans, "Don't let society squeeze you into its mold". There's a constant pressure trying to squeeze us into being common. People at work may slack off and waste time playing around, do a half-hearted job. Don't be squeezed into that mold. Don't let that thinking rub off on you. If they want to be mediocre, if they want to be common, that's their choice, but that's not who you are. You are uncommon. Stand out in the crowd. Do the right thing when the boss is not around. Don't sink down to their level; set a new standard.
People around you may be giving in to temptation, doing things you know are not the best. Thoughts will tell you, "It's okay, it's not hurting anything. You only live once". That's the enemy trying to deceive you into being common. He knows if you're like everyone else, if there's nothing different about you, then you won't become all you were created to be. Don't fall into that trap; be uncommon, be different, live by a higher standard.
"Well, Joel, everyone is doing it. Everyone's partying, everyone's slacking off, everyone's negative". Here's the key. You're not everyone. You're the exception. The scripture says: "You've been set apart. You are a chosen people". That's saying you're not common, you're not like everyone else. You've not only been handpicked by the Most High God, he not only chose you, but he has set you apart. He's made you uncommon.
Could it be the reason you're not seeing favor is you're being common? The reason you're not going to the next level is you've let society squeeze you into its mold and now there's nothing different about you, you're like everyone else? It's time to break out of that mold. That is not who you are. You may be surrounded by people that are lazy, indifferent, not going anywhere. Don't be squeezed into that mold. Don't let that keep you from your destiny. You've been set apart. You're not common, now do your part and don't live common.
This is what Daniel did in the scripture. He was a Hebrew teenager that was brought out of Judah into Babylon to be trained to serve the king. But the Babylonians had all these customs that didn't agree with the Jewish faith. They worshiped many different gods and they wanted Daniel to fit in and worship their gods.
The first thing they did was change his name from Daniel, which means "God is my judge," to Belteshazzar, which means "Worshiper of Baal". They wanted him to forget about the God of Israel and start worshiping their idols. Daniel could have accepted it and thought, "This is what everybody's doing. I'm in their nation. I'm surrounded by people that worship idols. I'll just fit in, go with the flow".
But Daniel understood this principle. He didn't let them squeeze him into their mold. He knew he had been set apart, that he wasn't supposed to be common, and they put all this pressure on Daniel to change, but the scripture says: "Daniel purposed in his heart he would not defile himself by eating the king's food and drinking the king's wine". He was saying, in effect: "Everyone around me may be compromising. They're taking the easy way out, but I am not going to lower my standards. I'm not going to fit in and become common. I'm going to live by a higher standard".
When the person in charge saw how determined he was, he said he would give Daniel ten days to eat his own food, then they'd see how he was doing. After those ten days, Daniel came out stronger and healthier than all the other young men that had been eating the king's food, and when you refuse to compromise, not be squeezed into society's mold, God will show you favor and cause you to stand out above the rest. But being common doesn't get God's attention. Being like everyone else, not being different, but when you dig your heels in and say, like Daniel, "I'm not going to be pressured into compromising. I'm not going to live like everyone else, complaining, gossiping, giving up on dreams. I'm going to be uncommon. I'm going to go against the grain. I'm going to take the high road. I'm going to be a person of excellence".
When you make this choice to be uncommon, like Daniel, you will see uncommon favor. God will make things happen that you couldn't make happen. But it takes courage to be different, takes courage to not compromise. People will try to make you feel weak because you're not going with the majority, because you don't party with everyone, you don't gossip, you don't play politics. The truth is you're not weak; you're strong. It doesn't take much effort to do what everyone else is doing. A dead fish can float downstream; it takes a live one to swim upstream.
It's easy to be common. The pressure comes when you decide to be uncommon. When everybody around you is compromising, but you rise up and say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord". Neighbors will say, "You're going to church today? On Sunday, your day off? Why would you waste time doing that"? It's because you're uncommon. You live by a higher standard. You honor God with your life.
Uncommon obedience produces uncommon blessings, uncommon favor, and uncommon destiny. You'll go where you couldn't go on your own. But there is pressure right now trying to squeeze you into being common, thoughts trying to deceive you into not breaking out of the mold. Don't believe those lies. Be a Daniel. All that pressure trying to get you to conform is a sign that God has something amazing in front of you. You have to do like him and purpose in your heart, "I will not defile myself by giving in to this temptation or by letting these outside pressures convince me into lowering my standards".
The person in charge was so impressed with Daniel, he took him to see the king. The scripture says: "The king found no one equal to Daniel. He had ten times more wisdom and understanding than the smartest people in his kingdom". That wasn't a coincidence. When you make this choice to be uncommon, God will shine his favor on you. You will have wisdom beyond your years, creativity, ideas, ability. God rewards uncommon. The king put Daniel in charge of all of Babylon. He went from being a slave to being the leader of the whole country.
But I wonder what would have happened if Daniel would have chosen to be common, if he had have worshiped their idols, lived by their standards, been squeezed into their mold. I don't think we would be talking about him today. Another ordinary life would have faded off into the sunset. Years after you're gone, God wants somebody to be reading about you. Your faith, your courage, your victories can inspire others to believe for the fullness of their destinies.
"Joel, I don't think so. Not with me. I don't have the experience, the influence, the training, the education". Daniel was a slave, a teenager in a foreign land. All the odds were against him, but he made this decision to be uncommon, to stand out, to honor God with his life, and when you honor God, God will always honor you.
God opened doors for Daniel he never dreamed would open, and you may not see it yet, but God has something amazing in front of you. He has destined you to leave your mark in this generation. You're not supposed to live and die and nobody knew you were here. God has opportunities, resources, people, wisdom, that's going to catapult you further than you thought possible. But one requirement is you can't be common. You have to be willing to do what others won't do, to make sacrifices that others won't make, to resist temptation when others are giving in.
The good news, nothing you're facing is too much for you to handle. Every temptation, every struggle, every difficulty, God has given you the grace to overcome. You have the power to be uncommon, and yes, it takes discipline. Yes, it's uncomfortable. Your flesh will tell you, "Give in. Do what everyone else is doing". No, your destiny is at stake. Don't let a temporary period of being uncomfortable keep you from a permanent blessing.
It wasn't easy for Daniel to go against the grain. I'm sure people made fun of him, thought: "This new guy, this teenager, he's strange. Brought his own food. He worships his own God. He's too good to hang out with us". Daniel could have given in to the pressure, been intimidated, not wanted to stand out. But he was willing to take the heat for being different. He was secure enough in who he was and confident enough in who his God was that he didn't let the opposition, the ridicule, the people trying to discredit him, to squeeze him into their mold.
He knew when you're uncommon, there will be seasons of difficulties where it's not fair, seems like others are getting the best of you, you're having to swim upstream, but God sees what's happening. Your time is coming. Like with Daniel, at some point, God will suddenly turn it around. He'll suddenly promote you, suddenly vindicate you.
When the people saw the favor on Daniel's life, they became jealous. This Hebrew slave that they'd been making fun of, trying to discredit, was now their boss. He was over all of them, and when you're being uncommon, taking the high road, don't be distracted by the naysayers and people trying naysayers and people trying to discredit you. To discredit you. They're making fun of you now but you don't know, like with Daniel, one day they may be working for you.
These people knew that Daniel wouldn't compromise. They knew how committed and faithful he was, so they came up with a plan to try to trap him. They went to the king and said, "King, you're so amazing, you're so incredible, you should write a law that for the next 30 days, no one can pray to anyone except you. If they do, they'll be thrown into a lions' den". The king was so flattered, his ego was so inflated, he thought that was a good idea.
Be careful when people flatter you and then ask you for something. When they do, just cancel out everything they said first because even if it is true, most likely they said it with the wrong motives. Flattery is a tool, and if you're not secure in who you are and you need that to feel good about yourself, you'll make decisions that you may regret later on.
The king loved Daniel. He didn't realize they were doing this to trap him. But when Daniel heard about the new law, it didn't stop him. The scripture says: "He went home, opened his windows, got on his knees, and prayed like he'd always done". Now he's in charge and he's still not being squeezed into their mold.
Sometimes when people get to where they were trying to go, God blesses them and opens a door, they forget what got them there. It was the fact that they were uncommon. But too often, once they reach a goal, they start becoming common. Daniel didn't do this. He had made it to the top, he had everything to lose. If there was ever a time he should have fit in, did what the king asked, it was now. But Daniel stayed on the high road. He didn't let the pressure cause him to compromise.
Well, they ran back and told the king that Daniel was praying to another God. The king felt bad about it but he couldn't go back on his word, and he had Daniel thrown into the lions' den. The whole night, the king stayed awake and prayed and fasted for Daniel. Early the next morning, he ran out to check on him. He said, "Daniel, was the God you serve able to rescue you from the lions"? Daniel said, "Yes, I'm still here," and the king was so overjoyed, he had him taken out of the lions' den.
The scripture says: "There was not one scratch on him," and the people that talked him into writing the decree, that tried to get rid of Daniel, the king had them arrested and thrown into the same lions' den. Not one of them survived. The king wrote a new decree. It said: "Everyone in my kingdom should worship the God of Daniel. He's the living God. He rescues people and does great miracles".
When you're uncommon, when you refuse to compromise, when you don't take the easy way out, God will do the uncommon. He'll close the mouths of lions, and when you study the heroes of faith, people like Daniel, you'll find one common ingredient is they were uncommon.
A lady in the scripture named Naomi had two sons that both died early. Their wives were Ruth and Orpah. Naomi was going to move back home to Bethlehem. She told both daughters-in-law that they should go back to their country and start a new life. Ruth said, "No, Naomi. I'm not going to leave you. I'm going to move back with you and help take care of you". She said, "Ruth, I'm an old lady. There's no future for you in Bethlehem. Go back to your country. Maybe you'll find somebody new to marry there". This is what Orpah did. She left, went her own way, did her own thing.
Ruth said, "Naomi, I will go where you go. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God". It was in the fields of Bethlehem, picking up wheat every morning, barely surviving, that God caused Boaz, the owner of those fields, to notice Ruth. He was the wealthiest man in that area. They ended up falling in love and were married. Ruth no longer had to work in the fields; now she owned the fields.
What am I saying? Uncommon commitment brought uncommon favor. Ruth was willing to do what Orpah wouldn't do. Orpah took the easy way out, but Ruth did the right thing when it was hard. She took care of someone when she had every right to walk away. Nothing against Orpah. She may have lived a good life, but you don't read anything more in the scripture about her. You don't read much about common people. Not only did God bless Ruth with a husband and a son, but she became the great-grandmother of David. God put her in the family line of Jesus. It wouldn't have happened if she was common.
Are there areas that you're being common in, doing what everybody else is doing, taking the easy way out? Why don't you be a Ruth? Why don't you be a Daniel? God has uncommon favor in your future, uncommon opportunities, uncommon relationships, but you have to do your part and be uncommon.
Acts chapter 16, Paul and Silas were out helping people when they were falsely accused of trying to start a riot. They hadn't committed any crime, but they were beaten with rods and put in prison. They could have been complaining, bitter, "God, why did you let this happen"? That would have been common, but they were uncommon. Instead, at midnight, in the dungeon, they were singing praises to God.
The scripture says the other prisoners could hear them. I'm sure they thought, "What's wrong with these guys? They've been beaten, they were falsely accused, and now they're thanking God? That's not normal". Suddenly, there was a great earthquake. The prison doors flung open, the chains came off, and they walked out as free men.
An uncommon attitude led to an uncommon breakthrough. Instead of complaining about the people that have done you wrong and being sour over the disappointment, why don't you do like them and be uncommon? "God, I don't understand why this has happened, but I know you're still on the throne and I want to thank you that you have beauty for these ashes, that what was meant for harm you're turning to my advantage". That's what brings uncommon turnarounds, uncommon breakthroughs, uncommon favor.
This is what happened with David. He was a teenager, out taking care of his father's sheep. He didn't come from an influential family. They were shepherds. Nobody saw anything special in David. He looked ordinary, like everyone else. But David made this decision to be uncommon. He was willing to do what others wouldn't do. Nobody had the courage to face Goliath. They thought he was too big, too strong, too much experience. The whole army was afraid and intimidated but when David heard Goliath taunting the Israelites, he said, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he would defy the armies of the living God"?
When others were shrinking back in fear, David rose up in faith. He told king Saul that he wanted to fight Goliath. His brothers, the other people in the army, said, "Who are you? You don't have a chance. You're a kid, and a small one at that". They were common and they were trying to convince him into being common, and when you go against the grain, when you take these steps of faith, don't be surprised if common people tell you how it's not going to happen. "You can't get well. You'll never break that addiction. You can't start your business, you don't have the experience". Don't believe those lies. You have something on you that they cannot see.
There is a favor, a blessing, an anointing, an ability, that is not ordinary. Average people would be stuck. Ordinary people would settle. Common people would say, "The giant is too big". The good news is you are uncommon. God breathed his life into you. He's crowned you with favor. You have seeds of greatness on the inside.
Like David, you're going to defeat giants that look bigger. You're going to overcome obstacles that look stronger. You're going to accomplish dreams that seemed impossible. The forces that are for you are greater than the forces that are against you. I'm not looking at average people. I'm not looking at common people. I'm looking at Davids, I'm looking at Ruth's, I'm looking at Daniels. I see history makers. I see people that are going to leave their mark, people that are willing to do what others won't do, people that live by a higher standard.
Friends, God has not only chosen you, but he has set you apart. He's made you uncommon. Now I'm asking you to do your part and live uncommon. When others shrink back, have uncommon faith. When others slack off, have uncommon commitment. When others take the easy way out, have uncommon excellence. If you will do this, I believe and declare you're going to see uncommon favor, uncommon breakthroughs, uncommon increase, uncommon victories in Jesus's name.