Joel Osteen — No More Hiding

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I want to talk to you today about no more hiding. God has put gifts and talents in you. He's given you dreams and goals that are unique to your life. You have something to offer that nobody else has. But it's easy to let fear hold us back. Fear of failure, fear of what people will think, fear of the unknown. What if I try and it doesn't happen? What if I don't have the talent? What if people don't accept me?

Too often we're letting the what-ifs talk us out of it. Many people are living with hidden dreams, hidden talent, hidden potential. They have books in them, songs, businesses, leadership skills, but they're discounting themselves, thinking they're not as talented as their friend, they've had too many setbacks, they tried in the past and it didn't work out. My message today is very simple, quit hiding what God has given you. The scripture says you don't light a candle and hide it under a bush.

When God breathed his life into you, he lit your candle. He created you to shine, to make a difference, to leave your mark, and your gift is not just for you, it's to share with the world. We need your talent, we need your creativity, we need your smile. Now, don't let fear talk you out of it. You can't play it safe your whole life and become who you were created to be, and God will put you in situations on purpose that look too big, overwhelming. It's because God knows what's in you, he knows what you're capable of. He created you. You'll be tempted to shrink back, play it safe, hide your gift. But if you'll take that step of faith, God will step in and help you do what you couldn't do.

But here's the key, you can't wait till the fear goes away and then you'll do it. When I get my courage up, then I'll teach that class, then I'll start my business, then I'll go out on that date. The fear may not go away. You're going to have to do it in spite of the fear. This is what faith is all about, "I feel afraid, but fear is not going to control my life. I'm going to take a step of faith". No one that's ever done anything great in life has done it without fear. They felt the fear, but they did it afraid.

When my father went to be with the Lord back in 1999, I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but I had never ministered. I'd spent 17 years behind the scenes at Lakewood, doing the television production. I was comfortable in the background. My father tried to get me up here many times, but I didn't think I could do it. I didn't know this was in me. That's why I can tell you with confidence you have gifts in you right now that you don't know you have. Talent, skill, potential, you didn't hide it, God's hidden it until it's the right time.

I wasn't supposed to be ministering when my father was alive. I was in training, being prepared, showing God that I would be faithful. But when my dad died, I don't know how to explain it, but I knew I was supposed to pastor the church. I didn't know if it'd work, I didn't know if people would come, I didn't know if they would like me, but some moments are destiny moments. It's now or never. You either take that step of faith or that moment will not pass by again. Now, I knew that was one of those moments.

I wish I could tell you that I turned into a different person, all of a sudden I was full of faith and courage and power, and I didn't feel any fear. It was just the opposite. I had never been so afraid in all of my life. I felt unqualified, inadequate. When you're close to releasing your gift, you will feel fear more than ever. That's the enemy trying to deceive you into keeping your gift hidden. He doesn't want you to shine. He doesn't want you to go where no one in your family has gone. He'll work overtime to try to convince you to shrink back, play it safe. That's when you're going to have to have this boldness, this confidence that you're going to do it in spite of the fear.

"Well, what if I fail"? You get up and try again. Every failure is preparing you. You will learn more through failure than you will through success. You'll learn more in the difficult times, where it doesn't work out, than you will in the good times. You can't be so afraid of failure that you won't get out of your comfort zone. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he finally invented the light bulb. A reporter asked him about all of his failures, he said, "I never failed, I just learned 10,000 ways a light bulb wouldn't work," and even if it doesn't work out, you're learning, you're growing, you're one step closer to seeing it happen.

When we come to the end of life, nothing will be more disappointing than to think, "What would've happened if I would've taken that step of faith? What could I have become if I didn't let fear hold me back? Where would I be if I wouldn't have hidden my gifts, hidden my talents, hidden my creativity"? Friends, life is short. Stir up what God's put in you. Make the most of this day. Don't let the fear of people, the fear of failure, the fear of being criticized hold you back. "Well, Joel, I don't want anyone judging me. I don't want people talking badly about me".

Can I tell you respectfully, somebody's talking about you right now. Somebody is jealous of your success. Somebody's trying to discredit you. People are going to talk whether you settle or whether you stretch. You might as well stretch and pursue what God put in your heart. The good news, people cannot keep you from your destiny. What they say doesn't determine who you are. Every person has negative chatter, it's a distraction, tune it out. Quit letting it upset you. Quit being offended. God hears what they're saying. He'll fight your battles. He'll be your vindicator.

One of the best things I've learned is everyone is not supposed to be for you. Every person is not supposed to like you. You can't reach your destiny without opposition, without negative chatter, without the critics. Joseph would've never taken the throne without his brothers throwing him into a pit. David would've never become king without Goliath. Jesus would've never risen from the dead and brought us salvation without Judas betraying him. Quit worrying about who's not for you. Some enemies are designed as a part of your destiny. They're not going to stop you, they're going to promote you.

Now, keep running your race, not looking to the left nor to the right, not bothered by who's not celebrating you, who's not cheering you on. Other people may not be able to see your gifts. They don't know what God's put in you. They can't feel what you're feeling. Don't let their discouragement talk you out of it. Don't let the fear of what they think hold you back. You're not going to give an account to people of what you did with your life, we're going to give an account to God.

Every voice said, "Joel, you can't get up and minister, you're going to look like a fool. You don't have the training. Nobody's going to listen". I had 1,000 good excuses to keep my gift hidden. I was afraid, I didn't have the experience, I was concerned what people would think. But I did what I'm asking you to do, I did it afraid, and no, it wasn't easy. The first couple of months, at times I felt like I had to hold on to the podium so people couldn't see that I was shaking. On Saturday nights, I would have to look at myself in the mirror and say, "Joel, you are well able. You can do all things through Christ. You are strong in the Lord. This is your moment".

I've learned you can talk yourself into your dreams, or you can talk yourself out of your dreams. Quit telling yourself that you can't do it, you don't have a good personality, you don't have the training. Get rid of those excuses and start telling yourself what God says about you. You are strong, you are talented, you are blessed, you are favored. You have been fearfully and wonderfully made. When God created you, he put a part of himself in you. God is creative, you are creative. God is wise, you are wise. God is powerful, you are powerful. God is good-looking, you are good-looking. That's not in the scripture, but I like it. I wouldn't be standing here if I had not learned to step out even though I felt afraid.

What are you hiding? Your gifts, your personality? Afraid to come out of your shell, afraid people might not accept you? It's time to let your light shine. Quit hiding your smile, brighten our day. Quit hiding your encouragement, lift somebody up. Quit hiding your talent, make the world better. If God has given you the gift to sing, start singing. If you can write, start writing. If you can build, start building. If you can teach, start teaching. That gift was not meant to stay hidden. It's not doing you any good, nor is it doing us any good as long as you keep it to yourself. It has to be released.

A group of business people were discussing where the wealthiest place in the world is. One of them said, "It has to be south Africa, in the diamond mines where there's billions of dollars worth of diamonds". Another said, "No, it must be in the middle east, in the oil fields where there's an abundance of oil". The truth is the wealthiest place on earth is not south Africa, it's not the middle east, the wealthiest place is in the graveyards. Buried in those graves are hidden dreams, books that were never written, songs that were never sung, businesses never started, inventions never invented.

I'm asking you to release what you have. God didn't give you that dream so that it could stay buried. He's expecting you to bring it out, to pursue it, to cultivate it, to develop it. We have a responsibility. God has entrusted us with gifts and talents. Don't take it lightly, don't live passively, just taking whatever life brings your way. Shake off the complacency and get focused. What could you accomplish if you weeded out things that are not moving you towards your destiny? Where could you be at this time next year if you got rid of the distractions and the things that are not producing good fruit, and you put all your effort into the main thing God put in your heart? You can do many things good, but you can't do many things great, and sometimes we're too spread out.

Paul said, "This one thing I do". Find that one thing and excel at it. Studies even show that when a person spends 10,000 hours doing the same thing, they become an expert at it. Focus on your one thing and do it to the best of your ability.

Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable about a businessman that was going on a trip. He called three employees over, he gave one five talents, another two talents, and the third one talent. A talent represents about 20 years worth of wages, was a significant amount. The man with five talents went out and invested his and gained five more. The man with two invested his and gained two more. But the man with one talent was afraid. He thought, "What if I lose it? What if the economy goes down? What if somebody steals it from me"? He came up with all these excuses of what could happen, so he went and buried his talent in the ground.

The man with five, the man with two were faith-based. They thought, "Look what we've been given. We can increase, we can make more". The man with one talent was fear-based. He thought, "What if something goes wrong? What if I lose it"? You'll never increase as long as you're living fear-based. Fear of failure, fear of people, fear of what could happen. "I can't get in that relationship, I might get hurt. I can't take that position, what if I'm not good at it"? All three men had the same opportunity. Two did something with their gifts, the third was afraid. He played it safe and buried it.

After a while, the owner came back. The man with the five talents said, "Here are the five you gave me, plus five more I gained". The owner said, "Well done". The man with the two, "Here are the original two, plus two more. Again, "Well done". The third man came up and said, "Sir, I know you're a hard man. I didn't want to lose what you gave me, I was afraid, so I hid my talent. Here's the one back that you gave me". You would think the owner would say, "All right, at least I didn't lose anything. At least you gave it back". It was just the opposite. The owner was expecting a profit. It wasn't acceptable to just give back what was given, he was expecting increase.

He said to the man, "You lazy servant. If you knew if I was so hard, why didn't you at least put it in the bank so I could earn some interest? But you buried it. You hid it". He was angry. He took that talent and gave it to the man that had five. He said in verse 30, "Take this worthless man and throw him into outer darkness". The owner represents God. This is some of the strongest language used in the Bible. It's interesting, the man didn't lie, he didn't cheat, he didn't kill somebody, he didn't have an affair. What did he do? He buried his talent. He hid what God gave him.

You and I have been given gifts. God has entrusted us with them. One day, he's going to come back. Like that owner, we're going to see him, he's going to ask, "What did you do with the talents I gave you"? Whether you have one, two, or five, that doesn't matter. God has given us all different abilities. We're not competing with each other. I don't have to outperform you. You don't have to keep up with your neighbor. What matters is what are you doing with what you have? Are you living fear-based, afraid to take a risk, not willing to get out of your comfort zone, not putting effort into developing your gift? Have you buried it, or are you living faith-based, growing, stretching, increasing, looking for opportunities, believing you have seeds of greatness?

The man with one talent buried his talent and showed his fear. He should have buried his fear and showed his talent. Are you burying what you should be showing and showing what you should be burying? Why don't you start burying the insecurity, burying the doubt, the negative thoughts, burying what the critics have said and start showing your talent, showing your skill, showing your smile? If you will bury the fear and show your faith you'll see increase, you'll see new levels. But too often, we're discounting ourselves and thinking we don't have much to offer. We look at what we don't have, what we can't do. But your gift can be like an acorn. You can look at it and think, "God, big deal. You created the whole universe and this is what you've given me"? But what you can't see is that acorn is full of incredible potential. It has a huge oak tree in it with branches spreading out 50 feet wide. Don't discount your gift because it seems small.

Out in the shepherds fields, as a teenager, David could've thought, "God, all I'm good at is slinging rocks with this slingshot. My brothers are in the military, they're big, strong, talented. Why didn't you give me more talent"? Instead, David kept developing that small gift. Every day out in the fields, instead of being lazy, instead of complaining about what he didn't have, he kept practicing, getting better and better. He could hit a bullseye 100 feet away, and one day, he faced Goliath, a giant twice his size. Goliath had all kinds of training, experience. He was wearing armor that covered his whole body. All that is except around his eyes and forehead.

When he saw how small David was, he'd began to laugh. He said, "Am I a dog that you'd come at me with a stick"? Didn't bother David. He picked up a stone and put it in his slingshot like he had done thousands of times before, and when he slung that rock, it hit Goliath right in the forehead where there wasn't any armor, and Goliath hit the ground. Overnight, David became a national hero, and your gift may seem small, but if you'll develop it, it will open big doors. You don't have to have a great gift for God to use you in a great way.

The scripture says, "Your gift will make room for you". Doesn't say if you have a big gift, an important gift, an impressive gift. Whatever you have, if you will develop it and keep getting better, that gift will open doors of opportunity, doors of promotion, doors of influence. But sometimes we wonder why we're not being blessed, why we're not seeing increase. It's because we buried our blessing, we buried our promotion, we buried our talent. It's time to dig up what's been hidden, start releasing what God put in you.

Mark chapter 6, Jesus had traveled to the other side of the sea of Galilee, a remote area, and he was teaching the people. It was late in the day, they were tired and hungry. Jesus told his disciples to feed the people. Well, there were no grocery stores out there, plus, 5,000 people were there. Even if they did find a place to buy food, they wouldn't have that much. Seemed impossible. There was a little boy in the crowd with a lunch. He had five loaves of bread and two fish. He could've thought, "They don't need what I have. It's so small, won't even make a dent in this huge crowd". He could've dismissed it and hid his lunch. Instead, when the disciples asked for food, he gave his lunch to them, they took it to Jesus, Jesus blessed his lunch, it multiplied, all 5,000 people were fed.

Your gift may seem insignificant, but when you release it, it will multiply. As long as you hide it, as long as you keep it buried, it will stay five loaves and two fish. You will never see the potential until it's released. What are you hiding? Gifts, talents, creativity? Have you convinced yourself, "It's too small. You don't have the talent. You could never do anything great"? If you will quit discounting what you have and start releasing it, God will multiply your talent, multiply your influence, multiply the resources.

Nineteen years ago, I was working behind the scenes running camera, editing, doing the lighting. I didn't necessarily have a big gift, but when daddy died, I said, "God, this is all I have". May not look like much, kind of like the five loaves and two fish. In comparison to the need, it seemed insignificant. My father had ministered for over 50 years. He was dynamic, experienced, respected, loved by people all over the world, and I was none of the above. The church had 6,000 people coming on Sundays, was a mega church. You would think you would need a mega pastor, mega talent, mega experience. But God doesn't choose the way we choose. He doesn't always go find the smartest, most gifted, most experienced. Many times, he'll take what seems small and multiply it. That's what he did with me.

It's not how much do you have, it's what are you doing with what you have? Have you buried it, feeling unqualified, afraid, intimidated? Why? You're a child of the Most High God. You have been crowned with favor. I'm asking you to get that dream out. Get that book out, that creativity, that goal, release it, and watch what God will do. He'll take you where you could not go on your own. He'll exceed your expectations.

In the scripture, Gideon was hiding in the wine press, afraid of his enemies. God told him to go tear down an idol. He wouldn't go in the daytime, he was too fearful, he went at night. Later, God said he was to deliver the Israelites from the midianites. Gideon said, "God, I can't do that. I come from the poorest family. I'm the least one in my father's house". He was saying, "God, my gift is too small. I'm not qualified". He was burying his gift, an angel showed up and said something significant, "The Lord is with you, you mighty hero".

Here, Gideon was hiding, afraid, feeling unqualified, yet God called him a mighty hero. Like Gideon, your gift may seem small, the obstacle looks way too big. God is saying to you what he said to him, "Hello, you mighty hero". God sees what you can become. Why don't you stir up that gift? Stir up what's in your heart. God wouldn't have put it there if he wasn't going to bring it to pass. Gideon went out with his 300 men, and they defeated the midianites, an army of over 130,000 people. Today, Gideon is listed as one of the heroes of faith. But I wonder what would've happened if Gideon would've stayed in hiding, if he'd have kept his gifts buried, afraid, feeling unqualified. He would've missed his destiny.

I'm asking you to come out of hiding. Your gifts, your talents, the dreams, they've been buried long enough. It's time to step up into who God's created you to be. You have greatness in you. There are gifts that you have not yet discovered. Don't bury your talent, bury your fears and start releasing your talents. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, like Gideon, you're going to accomplish dreams that look bigger than you thought possible. You're going to overcome obstacles that looked insurmountable. Like that little boy with the lunch, what you release God is about to start multiplying in Jesus's name, and if you receive it, can you say amen today?

I'd like to give you an opportunity to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Would you pray with me? Just say, "Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart. I make you my Lord and Savior". If you prayed that simple prayer, we believe you got born again. Get in a good Bible-based church and keep God first place.
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