Joel Osteen — Pushed into Your Purpose
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I want to talk to you today about pushed into your purpose. We don't always understand why things happen to us. Maybe a friend you thought would be with you for years, somebody you counted on, you had to move away suddenly and now you have to find new friends. Or at work, things were going great. You had all this favor but now there's conflict, everything's a struggle, you don't enjoy it.
A friend of mine was the sales manager at a big car dealership here in town. They were always breaking records. But a while back, they sold to a national company. His new supervisor didn't care for him and treated him unfairly. He said, "Joel, I never dreamed after all these years, I'd have to find a new job". But I've found sometimes, God will let us be uncomfortable now so he can bless us later on. He'll close a door. We don't like it, we don't understand it, but later on he'll open up a bigger door. He'll take us to a new level of our destiny. God is not as concerned about our comfort, as he is our purpose.
There are times God will stir things up. A friend will do you wrong, you lose a loved one, business goes down. God uses loss, betrayal, persecution to force us to change. He's not just trying to make your life miserable, he's pushing you into your purpose. See, every closed door is not a bad thing. Every person that walks away is not a mistake.
God knows we wouldn't go without a push. And when everything is good, we're comfortable. We don't want to have to stretch. We don't want to have to find new friends, develop new skills, step out into the unknown. What if it doesn't work out? We may not like it, but if God had not closed those doors, we would be satisfied to stay where we were. God loves you too much to let you miss your destiny. You have too much potential, too much talent, too much in you to get stuck where you are. God will put us in these situations that force us to stretch, that help us to grow.
Every difficulty you've been through, every bad break, every person that did you wrong, that wasn't meant to stop you, it was meant to push you, to mature you, to make you stronger. It's deposited something on the inside. It's made you into who you are. You wouldn't be prepared for the new levels if you had not gone through those things.
Don't complain about what didn't work out, the job you lost, the loved one that went to be with the Lord. It was all a part of God's plan. When you face a difficulty, especially things you don't understand, instead of being critical, complaining, negative; have this new perspective. This is not meant to stop me, it's meant to promote me. I may be uncomfortable, I may not like it, but I know God is using it to push me to a new level, to push me to greater influence, to push me into my purpose.
When I look back over my life, I can see the pivotal moments where I really grew. The times where I really stepped up to a new level. The common denominator was I was pushed, I didn't like it, I was uncomfortable, I wanted to stay. It took God closing the door and forcing me to take a step of faith. I was pushed into my purpose. At 19 years old, I came back from college to start a television outreach here for my father at Lakewood. And that was always my passion, anything that had to do with production, sound, lighting, cameras, editing.
I was young and I had a lot of enthusiasm but not a lot of training. So we hired this gentleman in his 60's, a seasoned television producer. He used to produce the today show and went on to produce major league baseball. He was not only extremely talented but he was very friendly. He and I hit it off and became the best of friends.
For about a year, I was with him practically night and day. I was very excited to be learning so much. During the services, I would watch him in the control booth as he directed the cameras. He taught me what the right angles were and what good lighting was, how to edit. As I watched him, I would sit there in amazement thinking, "How in the world does he know how to do all of this"? He was so talented and I was so blessed to have him. But about a year after he started, he came in one morning and said, "Joel, I'm moving back to California. I've done everything here that I need to do. You can take it from here".
I nearly passed out. I said, "You've got to be kidding. You can't leave us. What are we going to do? Who's going to direct the program? Who's going to edit it"? He said, "You are. I've trained you for a year. You can do what I've been doing". I said, "There's no way. I don't know how to do that". We offered him more money, more time off. I said, "You can live in California. Just come back a couple of times a month and help us put everything together". He said, "Oh, thanks Joel but no, I'm done here".
I was so disappointed. I though that was the worst thing in the world that could have happened to me. And I prayed, "God, please change his mind. God don't let him leave. God you know it's all going to fall apart". Sometimes, we're praying against the very thing God has ordained. We're praying against what God has set into motion. The enemy doesn't close every door. Sometimes, God closes the door. God moves people out of our life because he knows they would become a crutch. They would keep us from our destiny. So God causes things to dry up to force us to change.
My friend left. He went back home to California and I had to get out of my comfort zone and stretch and start doing things that I didn't think I could do. I discovered as I stepped out it wasn't as hard as I thought. The first month went by and I thought, "I'm not too bad at this". Six months went by and I thought, "I'm pretty good at this". A year went by and I thought, "What did we ever need him for"?
But the truth is, him leaving was a turning point in my life. That was God pushing me into my destiny. Even though I was uncomfortable, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. If he would have stayed that would have stunted my growth. I wouldn't be where I am today if God had answered my prayer. Quit being depressed over somebody that walked away, if they left your life, their time was up, step into the new season. If the door closed, you went through a disappointment, don't complain, you're about to be pushed into your purpose. You're about to see new growth, new opportunities, new friendships.
In the scripture, the prophet Samuel, spent years pouring into king Saul. He had mentored him as a young man, loved him like his own son. But unfortunately, Saul wouldn't do what was right and God told Samuel he was going to take the throne away from Saul. And Samuel was so heartbroken. He felt like he'd wasted all that time. And God said to Samuel, quit mourning over what I have rejected. God is saying, "Quit being depressed over who walked away. Quit being sour over what didn't work out. If they were supposed to stay, they would have stayed".
God went on to tell Samuel, "I found a new man. His name is David. Go anoint him as the next king". Notice the principle. If you'll stop being discouraged over who left, God will send the right people. But as long as you're complaining about the "Saul's" and what didn't work out. "If they wouldn't have left me," you're gong to get stuck. When you accept it and move forward, you'll not only step into a new level but the "David's" will show up. The right people will be there for every season of your life.
For 17 years, I did the television production behind the scenes here at Lakewood. I thought that's how I'd spend the rest of my life. I was content. I enjoyed doing it. But in 1999, my father went to be with the Lord. Once again, I was forced to change, forced to make an adjustment. God closed that door. Job said, "I thought I would die in my nest". He was saying he got his nest all fixed up. He got his house like he wanted it. He had a successful business. Everything was going great. He was finally comfortable and what happened? God came along and stirred up the nest.
Now, God doesn't send the trouble but he will use the difficulty to push us into our destiny. Job had a lot of things go wrong. He lost his business. He lost his health. He lost his family. If the story stopped there, it would be a sad ending. But Job understood this principle. Right in the midst of the difficulties, he looked up and said, "I know my redeemer lives". He was saying, "I know God is still on the throne. He has the final say. This trouble is not going to defeat me. It's going to promote me". In the end, Job came out with twice what he had before. God used that adversity to give him double.
Don't be surprised, like with Job, when you get comfortable, when you get everything figured out if God doesn't stir up the nest. It's not to harm you, it's to push you. You have a bigger destiny. God has new levels, more favor, more influence, more resources. His dream for your life is bigger than you can imagine. I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church. But again like the production, I didn't think I could do this. I didn't have the training, the experience. My father had tried to get me up here for years, but I was comfortable behind the scenes. I didn't have to stretch anymore. I could do the production in my sleep.
Like Job, I thought I would die in my nest. But when my dad went to be with the Lord, it was like the whole process started all over again. That loss pushed me out of my comfort zone. It pushed me to discover new talents that I didn't know I had. It pushed me into greater influence. Every time I've seen major growth, every time I've stepped up to a new level, it's because I was pushed. There was adversity, challenges, loss.
Maybe you're in a situation now. You could easily be discouraged, you lost a loved one, went through a break up, a business didn't work out. The enemy may have meant that for your harm but God is going to use that for your good. God didn't allow it to stop you, he allowed it to push you. Like Job, you're going to come out stronger, healthier, wiser, increased, better off than you were before.
That sickness is going to push you into your purpose. That bad break is going to push you into greater fulfillment. Or perhaps that betrayal, it's going to push you into better relationships, into new happiness. Here's the key. The pain is a sign you're about to see the birth. The greater the difficulty, the closer you are to that birth.
Like me, in that loss, you think, "Well, this is as good as it gets". But no, you're going to see God push you into a new level of your destiny, the disappointment, the betrayal, the bad break, yes, it's painful, yes, we don't like it. But if you'll stay in faith, it's going to promote you. I wouldn't be here if God had not pushed me when I was 19 and taken away my friend. I wouldn't be here if God had not pushed me in 1999 when my father went to be with the Lord. It's difficult but God doesn't waste the pain. The pain is a sign of new birth.
Steve Jobs was one of the most brilliant minds of our generation. At 21 years old, he founded Apple Computer. By the time he was 23, he was incredibly successful, known around the world. But 7 years later, after developing this global brand, so many products that we all liked, he clashed with his board of directors and was eventually fired from the company he started.
He told his friends how betrayed he felt, how wrong that was. But instead of sitting around in self-pity, he went out and started another company and learned new skills. This company developed something that apple needed. It was so successful that apple purchased his company and brought him back as the CEO. Jobs said, "If I hadn't been fired, I would have never learned these new skills that made me into who I am".
The betrayal wasn't sent to stop you, it was sent to push you". Don't complain about who hurt you, who did you wrong. If that was going to keep you from your destiny, God would have never permitted it. Shake off the self-pity and get ready for the new doors that are about to open, the new opportunities, the new skills, the new talents. Moses said, "As an eagle stirs up her nest, so God will stir up his children".
And when things are stirring in your life, when you're uncomfortable, a door closed, a friend betrayed you, don't think, "Oh great, just my luck, I always have these bad breaks". No, turn it around. God, I know you're stirring things because you're about to open up a new door. You're about to take me to a higher level. You're about to push me into my purpose".
I was in the hospital room when Victoria gave birth to both of our children. I was sitting by her bed and she had a hold of my arm right here at the bicep. And when she had a contraction, she would squeeze my arm so tightly, she would scream, and then I would scream. At one point, the doctor told her, "The next time you have a contraction, I want you to push". He didn't have her push until the baby was ready to come.
In the same way, when you're being pushed, it means the door is open, something new is coming, new growth, new influence. God wouldn't be pushing you if the door was closed and nothing new was on the way. A doctor doesn't tell a woman in labor "Just push whenever you want to, push whenever you feel like it". They have to wait until the exact right time. When you're being pushed, don't be discouraged, be encouraged. It is the right time, get ready, something good is coming your way.
That little baby, when he's in the womb for nine months, everything is great. He's comfortable. He doesn't have to do anything. He gets his food from his mother. He gets carried around all day. He can sleep whenever he wants to. It's peaceful, calm, life is good. For a season, that's healthy. He's growing, he's maturing. That's where he's supposed to be. But if he stays in that womb too long, instead of being a blessing, the womb will become a curse. It's too small. It will keep him from his destiny. It will limit his potential. He has to get out. And when he comes through the birth canal, it's tight, it's uncomfortable; it's traumatic.
Up to this point, all he's known is peace and calm, lying around, doing nothing. Now, it's like all hell breaks loose. He thinks, "What in the world is wrong with momma? Has she lost her mind? Is she trying to kill me"? He's being pushed, squeezed, pressured. He gets pushed again. Pushed again. Pushed again. Finally, he comes out. He's born. Breathes new life, steps into that new level.
It's the same principle. When things are tight, when you're being pressured, when you're uncomfortable, it's easy to think, "What in the world is happening? I like it when it was peaceful. I want to go back to how it was". But if you stay in that womb too long, in that protected place, it won't be a blessing, it will keep you from becoming all God created you to be. God controls the universe. He knows what's best for you. If you're being pushed, it's because the door is open. There's something greater in your destiny. It may be uncomfortable. Don't complain. God is stretching you. He's enlarging you. You're about to see new growth, new talents, new opportunities.
This is what happened with my father. For years he pastored a large denominational church. It was very successful, the church was growing, they'd just built a beautiful new sanctuary. It looked like he would be there forever. But my sister, Lisa, was born with something like cerebral palsy. My father went away for a few days to get alone in a hotel. And he began to search scriptures like he'd never searched them before. He came back with a new fire. He told his congregation that God is a good God. That he can still heal and perform miracles. That God wanted them to live an abundant life.
He thought they'd all be excited and so happy for him. But it was just the opposite. That didn't fit into their tradition back then. And some of his long time friends, people that had known my parents for 30 years, turned on them. They started stirring things up talking about how my father needed to leave. My dad was devastated. He thought, "God, why is this happening? I've given my life to these people".
But the fact is God was the one stirring it up. God knew my father couldn't reach his highest potential in that limited environment. It looked like a disappointment but behind the scenes it was the hand of God orchestrating it all. My father resigned from the church feeling rejected, feeling betrayed. But he didn't sit around, talking about how bad life had treated him. He understood this principle that he was being pushed into his purpose. He realized the same God that opens doors, closes doors. He went out and started Lakewood church on mother's day in 1959 with 90 people. Here we are today, still going strong. But had those people not come against him, he would have never reached his full potential.
Don't complain about people that do you wrong, betray you, leave you out. God uses people to get you to where you're supposed to be. They may think they're pushing you down, what they don't realize is they're pushing you up. They're pushing you into your destiny.
Judas thought when he betrayed Jesus he was stopping him. The truth is he was promoting him. God ordained the betrayal. The scripture says in Acts that persecution arose in Jerusalem so Phillip went down to Samaria. It doesn't say that Phillip prayed and decided to go to Samaria. He didn't have a choice. The persecution forced him out of his hometown. He was pushed out of his comfort zone.
It's interesting. God could have stopped the opposition, he's God. He closed the mouths of hungry lions for Daniel. It would have been no big deal. But the persecution was for a purpose. He allowed that opposition to get them into their destiny. It was in Samaria that Phillip saw his greatest days of ministry. If he had stayed in Jerusalem, he wouldn't have reached his highest potential.
Maybe Jerusalem has closed up for you, so to speak. A bad break, a disappointment, a betrayal. Don't be discouraged. Jerusalem may have closed but Samaria is about to open up. God wouldn't be pushing you if he didn't already have another open door.
A friend of mine was working at this job and he wasn't fulfilled. He knew he had more in him. He wasn't being stretched and using his gifts. But he was afraid to take a step of faith. And this man is one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. He's kind. He's friendly, easy going. He's a model employee. He comes early, stays late, never causes any trouble.
Well, he called me one day and said, "Joel, you won't believe what just happened to me". I said, "What"? He said, "I just got fired". I said, "You got fired? You've got to be kidding. That's like saying mother Theresa just robbed a bank". That was so out of character. Here's my point. God loves you too much to let you stay in mediocrity. He knows how to get you out of your comfort zone. He opens doors and he can close doors. If we don't take the hint, he'll push us.
Today, my friend is the vice president of a major corporation. He continues to see increase and new growth. Don't be discouraged by your closed doors. That's God pushing you. Don't get upset because of a bad break. If it was going to keep you from your destiny, God would have never permitted it.
In the scripture, God told Paul that he was going to stand before Caesar. And Paul was on a boat headed toward Rome. But they encountered a huge storm. The winds were so strong that it blew the boat aground. The whole boat fell apart and they all had to swim to this little island called Malta. It looked like a bad break, a disappointment. But that storm didn't stop God's plan, it was a part of God's plan.
On that island, the chief's father was very sick. Paul prayed for him and God healed him. They started bringing other sick people: the same thing, God healed them. Paul ended up sharing his faith with the whole island.
What am I saying? The winds that were meant to stop you, God will use to push you into your destiny. You may not like it, you may not understand it, but if you'll stay in faith, it won't defeat you, it will promote you. The storm blew my father from a restricted environment to a ministry that touched the world. It blew my friend from a job where he wasn't using his talents to the vice president of a large company. It blew me from behind the scenes into the position that I'm in now.
You're being pushed for a reason. There's something bigger, something better, something more rewarding in front of you. Now you've got to be willing to go through the process. When it's tight, you're uncomfortable, you're being squeezed, that's a sign you're about to see new birth. Where you are is too small. That womb was fine for a time, it served it's purpose, but now it's a new day. There's about to be new growth, new opportunities.
Keep the right perspective. "This sickness is not going to stop me. It's pushing me. I'm coming out better". "This trouble at work, it can't hold me back. It's pushing me. I'm getting stronger". "These people that did me wrong. They can't stop my destiny. They meant it for harm but God's using it for my good. He's pushing me". Every difficulty you went through, every storm, every person that did you wrong, it was pushing you to mature, pushing you to know God in a greater way. Pushing you to become stronger, more resilient.
Now, don't be discouraged by the process. Perhaps you feel like you're being pushed right now. It's tight, it's uncomfortable. You need to get ready. I believe and declare, God is about to push you into a new level. He's going to push you into greater strength, greater influence, greater resources. You're coming in to a new season of health, favor, victory, breakthroughs, the winds that were meant to stop you are going to push you into your purpose. In Jesus' name.