Joel Osteen — Keep Your Joy
I want to talk to you today about "Keeping your joy". We all have opportunities to get upset and go around frustrated. Somebody was rude to us. Traffic was backed up. We can't find our car keys. Life is full of inconveniences, delays, and people that don't do right. We're never going to stop these things from happening. The key is how we handle them. The scripture says, "No man can take your joy". That means you control your joy. Nothing can take it from you. You have to give it away.
Next time someone cuts you off in traffic, ask yourself, "Is this worth giving them my joy"? That person that's rude to you on the phone that you've never met, are you going to give them your joy? That delay, that plan that didn't work out, that negative comment, are you going to let that sour your day? The reason some people are not happy is they're constantly giving away their joy.
I was in a crowded parking lot one time, waiting for a parking spot. The man was putting his groceries in his car, and it took him a couple of minutes. I had my blinker on, patiently waiting, but when he finally backed out, a car came from the wrong direction and pulled in right in front of me. They could clearly see that I was waiting. My first response was to honk my horn and tell them what I thought. Then I noticed he was bigger than me. I thought to myself, "I'll give you my parking spot, but I'm not going to give you my joy". I didn't like it. It wasn't fair, but I've learned to not let things I can't control sour my day. I've made up my mind, "I'm going to be happy today. I'm going to enjoy my life.
You can't control what people do. You can't control what they say, but you can control how you respond. My message is very simple: quit giving away your joy. Quit letting the same people upset you. Quit letting the traffic, the delays, the things that don't work out frustrate you. You can't pray these things away. That person at the office that gets on your nerves, I don't mean to be negative, but they may not change. They may be that way for the next 20 years.
My challenge is, don't go 20 years giving them your joy. They may not change, but you can change. Life is too short to live frustrated, upset over things we have no control. People have a right to have their opinion. You have the right to ignore it. People have the right to be rude. You have the right to stay happy. Quit letting their negative comments upset you. They wouldn't be talking about you if you weren't making a difference. Nobody talks about people that are not doing anything. They're talking about you because you're going places. They can see there's something special about you. You have the favor of God. You're blessed, you're talented, you're anointed.
Sometimes small-minded people will try to push you down and discredit you. Don't pay any attention to it. That doesn't carry any weight. What they say cannot keep you from your destiny. That is simply a distraction. Every person has negative chatter. All your family members, unfortunately, are not going to be for you. George burns said, "Happiness is having a loving, caring, close-knit family living in another city". Some of your relatives, you have to love them from a distance. If they're sitting by you today, don't say, "Amen," now. All of your co-workers are not going to celebrate you. All of your friends are not going to be loyal. Some people can't handle your success. They'll make remarks trying to bait you into conflict, trying to get you upset.
Here's the key. Don't get involved in battles that are not between you and your destiny. Most of the conflict we engage in is a distraction. The enemy would love to get you off-course, offended, trying to straighten people out, trying to convince them that you're okay. Your job is not to change people's mind about you. Your job is not to try to make people like you. Your job is to run your race, to be who God called you to be, and not worry about the critics and the naysayers. God will cause the right people to like you, but one of the best things I've learned is everybody is not supposed to like you. Everybody is not supposed to approve you. Some people are ordained by God, not by the enemy, but by God to not be for you. You have to accept that everyone is not going to accept you.
We see it in the scripture. Joseph's brothers weren't supposed to be for Joseph. They were ordained to betray him. Without their betrayal, Joseph would have never made it to the palace to help the Israelites during the famine. Quit being sour because somebody betrayed you. How do you know that's not leading you to your palace? How do you know that disappointment is not a part of God's plan to take you to the next level of your destiny?
King Saul was ordained to not like David. If he would have celebrated David, been happy for his success, David would have never taken the throne. Are you upset because someone is not for you, when the truth is, God has ordained them to not be for you?
When Nehemiah was rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, there were two men, Sanballat and Tobias, that didn't like what he was doing. They stood at the bottom of the mountain and constantly shouted insults at Nehemiah. They were trying to bait him into conflict, get him upset, frustrated. Nehemiah understood this principle. He said, "No, thanks, I'm not giving you my joy. You may not like me, but you not liking me has nothing to do with me fulfilling my destiny. I'm going to stay focused on what God's called me to do. If Nehemiah would have come off the mountain, got upset, went down there to straighten them out, even if he won, even if he shut them up, he wouldn't have finished the wall when he did.
All the chatter that comes against you is a distraction. It's to get you upset so you get involved in battles that don't matter. Then you look up and you're not accomplishing what you should. Do yourself a favor. Don't pay any attention to it. Quit being upset by people who are not for you, people that make negative comments, trying to marginalize you, push you down. What they say doesn't determine your destiny. They are simply a distraction. That's just noise. Don't give it the time of day.
See, some people, no matter what you do, they're not going to like you. Even if you changed and did everything they wanted, they would still find some reason why you don't measure up. You have to be at peace with people not being at peace with you. You don't need their approval to fulfill your purpose. You don't have to have them be for you to become who God's created you to be, but if you get distracted trying to win them over, spending your valuable time trying to convince them to be for you, then you will miss the fullness of your destiny. Don't take the bait. Don't let them get you riled up.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, they will inherit the earth". "Meek" doesn't mean "Weak". "Meekness" means "Strength under control," and when you ignore negative comments, you don't pay attention to the Sanballats and Tobiases of life, you're not being weak. You're being meek. You have the power to fight. You have the strength to straighten them out, to tell them what you feel, but your strength is under control. You're not wasting time engaged in battles that are not between you and your God-given destiny. I've learned when you stay on the high road, God will take care of your enemies. God can defend you better than you can defend yourself.
In the scripture, Elisha was traveling from Jericho to Bethel. Along the way, a group of young men came out and started making fun of him because he was bald. The scripture says, "They were mocking him, saying, 'go, baldie, go.'" You didn't know that was in the Bible, did you? You know Elisha was annoyed. He could've gotten upset, thought, "I'm going to go straighten them out. I'll show you what I thought". Instead, he remained calm. He understood this principle. They couldn't take his joy. They were baiting him, trying to get him distracted. He just stay focused and continued doing what God called him to do.
While those young men were making fun of him, two bears came out of the woods and tore them to pieces. That tells me two things. Number one, don't make fun of bald people. Number two, you don't have to straighten people out. God will be your vindicator. God knows how to take care of the opposition. He sees what they're doing. He hears the disrespect.
If you'll stay in peace, God will fight your battles, and when God does it, I can assure you, it will be better than anything you could've done. But your feelings will want to pay people back. Feelings will tell us, "Go in there, get even. Stand up for yourself". If you let feelings rule, you'll get upset. You'll end up giving away your joy. Don't get on board with your feelings.
The Psalmist said, "God has given us the power to remain calm in times of adversity". It doesn't say, "God will keep us from all the adversity, from the opposition, the Sanballats, the negative chatter". It says, "They will come, we'll have opportunities to get upset, but God has given us power to stay calm". Now, quit telling yourself, "I can't help it. This person at the office, they just get on my nerves. You have the power to stay calm. That doesn't have to keep upsetting you. That is a learned behavior. "They say something negative, I get offended". "Traffic is bad, I get upset". "The clerk is rude. I can't help it, Joel, I just go off. I just let them have it".
The problem is, you have strength, but it's not under control. You need to relearn how to respond. You need to develop some new habits. Next time something happens that you don't like, pause for a moment, and say, "Father, thank you that you've given me the power to remain calm. Thank you that I have a spirit of discipline and self-control". You don't have to let the same things keep upsetting you year after year. Change your approach.
I met a gentleman in another state at a restaurant. It was very windy outside, and when he walked in the door, the person in front of him let the door slam right in his face. This man had been hot-tempered his whole life. Normally, he would've confronted them and told them what he thought, but he'd been listening to our programs, and just when he was about to lose his cool, he heard my voice saying, "Stay calm, and let God fight your battles". He paused for a moment and decided to let it go. He walked away like nothing happened. He came in the restaurant and sat down. I was sitting a few tables away. He came over and said, "Joel, if you had not been in my head, I would have let them have it".
Like this man, you may have been trained to respond a certain way. You grew up seeing people lose their cool, get upset, offended. Why don't you try a different approach? When you let people upset you, you are giving away your power. You are letting them control you. If they push this button, you get offended. That button, you get upset. This other button, they bait you into conflict. Why don't you turn those buttons off? Life is so much more freeing when you're not controlled by what people say, you're not offended when someone's upset. You're not sour because traffic was bad. You have tapped in to the power to remain calm.
A friend of mine named David Pollay wrote a book called "The law of the garbage truck". He was in a taxicab in New York city headed to a meeting. A car pulled out right in front of them. The taxi driver had to slam on his brakes, swerve to the left, missing the car by inches. The driver of the other car put his head out the window, starting screaming and yelling. He was so angry, so upset, shaking his fist. The funny thing, it was his fault.
The taxi driver just smiled, waved real big, and drove on, didn't give it the time of day. David was in the backseat and he was so impressed. He said, "That man almost totaled your car, almost sent us both to the hospital. I can't believe you didn't yell back at him. How did you keep your cool"? The taxi driver gave an insightful answer. He said, "I've found many people are like garbage trucks. They go around full of anger, full of frustration, full of bitterness, and as their garbage piles up, they need somewhere to dump it, and sometimes they'll dump it on you, but you can't take it personally. It has nothing to do with you. Just smile, wish them well, and move on".
Here's the key, successful people don't let garbage trucks overtake their day. If someone dumps a load on you, don't get upset. If you make that mistake, you'll end up carrying around their garbage, and eventually, you'll dump it on someone else. You have to keep your lid on. These days, many people are dumping frustration, disrespect, criticism, bitterness. We can't stop them from dumping it, but we can keep them from affecting us.
Years ago, Victoria and I were at the airport, and we were going through the security checkpoint, and we put our bags on the X-Ray machine. The security officer sent them both back and said, "You have liquids in there that you have to remove". Victoria said, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to take my water out". Well, I thought he was only talking to Victoria, so I just stood there and didn't do anything. You would have thought I had committed a major crime. He was, like, totally insulted. He practically screamed, "Sir, what are you doing standing there? I told you to open the bag, and do it now".
I thought, "Man, he's got a big garbage truck," and he was full of frustration, full of stress, and full of a lot of other stuff, but... I didn't say it. You just thought it. But I took care of it. As I passed by him, I said, "Sorry about that. I thought you were just talking to her, and have a good day". Didn't mean it, but at least I said it, but I thought to myself, "I'm keeping my lid on. I don't need his garbage. I don't need that poison".
We have enough things of our own to deal with. You don't need somebody else's bitterness, their sour attitude, their pressure. Keep your lid on tight. Let those things bounce off of you. Your destiny is too great. Your time is too important to go around weighed down with other people's garbage. You can't keep it from coming, but you can keep it from getting in you, and the longer I live, the more I realize how valuable each day is. We're not always going to be here, and it's easy to live upset, offended, frustrated, but most of the things that are upsetting us, in the big picture, they don't really matter.
Traffic was backed up, took you an hour to get home. Should have taken you 30 minutes. Is that worth losing your joy over? You're alive, you're healthy. God's given you breath to breathe. He's given you a family to love. Somebody was rude to you. They made you look bad. They said something negative. Is that worth going around offended, discouraged? What if we found out we only had a month to live? I wonder how many things we're allowing to upset us now. If we found out our time was limited, we wouldn't pay attention to it.
Can I tell you, our time is limited? The scripture says our life is like a mist. We're here for a moment, then we're gone. That little quirk your spouse does that gets on your nerves, if we knew we weren't going to be here in a month, we wouldn't let it bother us. We would focus on all the things right, not on the few things wrong. We wouldn't complain about driving in traffic. We'd be happy to be in the traffic. We're alive, we've got another day to enjoy life.
"Well, I've got to go to work". Not me, I get to go to work. Some people don't have a job. Some people are in the hospital. Some people aren't able to work. I'm grateful to be employed. "Well, it's Sunday. I got to go to church again". Not me, I get to go to church. God's been good to me. I'm going to go back and say, "Thank you". "Not only that, I get to go to Lakewood. I get to listen to that good-looking minister". "Well, Joel, my boss is not fair. He's hard to get along with. This is not the position that I want". The truth is, somebody would love to have your job. Somebody would gladly trade places with you. It may not be perfect, but keep the right perspective. God's blessed you with a job. Don't let it sour your life.
If you will pass the test of being happy where you are, then God can open some new doors. But if you don't get happy there, you probably won't get to where you want to be, and your boss may not be fair. I'm not making excuses for him. I'm asking you to quit giving him your joy. He doesn't control your happiness. You control your happiness. But if you let a grouchy boss, a grouchy neighbor, a bitter relative steal your joy, keep you from being happy, it is not their fault. It is your fault.
You are as happy as you want to be. You have to put your foot down and say, "This is the day the Lord had made. I am not going to live sour, defeated, and depressed. I am not going to let what people do or don't do, what they say or don't say, what I have or not have keep me from being happy. I've made up my mind. I'm going to enjoy this day". It dishonors God to go through the day upset, frustrated, bitter. God gave you breath to be here. He could have chosen anyone, but he chose you, and he chose me. One way we honor God is by being happy, living grateful, having a good attitude, seeing the best in life.
A couple of months of ago, I was driving to the office during the week to meet some people, and I was in a hurry. I had left a little bit late, but I knew I could still make it on time if I didn't have any delays, and I had driven this route a thousand times. I was almost here, a few blocks away, stopped at the intersection. I was in the left turn lane. This light is very short. You have to stay right behind the car in front of you to trigger it to stay green. Well, I was the third car back waiting. The problem was, the car in front of me left about two car lengths between it and the first car. There was this huge gap.
The light turned green just like I thought. The first car went through, turned red before the second car could make it. I could feel myself starting to get uptight. I heard that voice saying, "Joel, keep your calm. Keep your joy". I thought, "I don't want to hear one of my messages right now. I'm in a hurry". We sat there waiting for a couple of minutes, and it seemed like an hour, and about that time, the lady in the car in front of me got out and started walking toward the back. I thought she was going to get something out of her trunk real quick. She came over to me.
I rolled down the window, and she said, "Are you Joel"? I wanted to say, "No, I'm Fred". I said, "Yes, I am". Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the light go green, back to red. We missed another one. She said, "I love you. I watch you on television. I have all your books. Would you sign one for me"? I said, "You mean, like, now"? She said, "Yeah, I got it in my car. I can get it real quick". I said, "I'd love to sign your book in the middle of an intersection". By now, people were honking. It wasn't just me. Everybody had lost their joy.
I signed her book, made it to the office about ten minutes late. Problem is, I forgot my key fob to get in. I knocked on the door and knocked, nobody answered, and called a staff member. It went to voice-mail. It never goes to voice-mail. Called another one, another one. Hot outside, and ten minutes later, when I finally got in, I was just dripping with sweat. Had my meeting, all went well. Later that night, I went up to the hospital to visit a friend that's fighting cancer. It's a serious situation, and we had time to pray together, and on the way out, I prayed with several other families where they had loved ones, didn't look good. They were very concerned.
I left there with a different perspective. I had been frustrated that day by delays, by traffic, by not having keys. I realized those were small things. That wasn't worth losing my joy over. I wasn't believing for a loved one to make it. In the big picture, what was frustrating me really didn't matter. I wonder if you're doing like me, letting insignificant things steal your joy. Traffic, negative comments, you can't find something, keep it in perspective. That's not worth losing your joy over. Don't let the small insignificant things keep you from seeing the gift of this day.
In the scripture, Habakkuk said it this way: "Though the fig tree does not blossom and there be no food on the vine, though my olive crops fail and my fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen, though there are no cattle in the stalls, what am I going to do? Get depressed, complain, feel sorry for myself"? He said, "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation".
He was saying, "Everything's come against me. Had bad breaks. Business is down. My income is low. Surely that's a reason to be discouraged. Surely I can go around sour". His attitude was, "No, I'm not giving away my joy. I'm going to rejoice in the God of my salvation. "Salvation" means "Deliverance," and when you stay full of joy despite what comes against you, God is saying, "Salvation is coming. Turn-arounds are coming. Healing is coming. Increase is coming. Victory is coming".
I'm asking you to keep your joy. Life is going to throw us some curves. There will be disappointments, things that are not fair. That's when you have to say, like him, "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord". We should make this decision every morning, "I will be joyful today". Decide ahead of time that you're going to enjoy the day.
When somebody dumps a load on you, when they're rude, keep your lid on. You're tempted to get upset, remind yourself, "You have the power to remain calm". If you'll do this, I believe and declare you're not only going to enjoy your life more, but you're going to be free from unnecessary frustration, bitterness, anger. You're going to rise higher, live happier, and reach the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus's name.