Joel Osteen — Favor Connections
I want to talk to you today about Favor Connections. When I was a teenager, I was pulled over by a police officer for driving too fast. When he saw the name on my license, he asked if I was related to the pastor, that he watched on television each week. I told him that was my father. He gave me my license back, told me to slow down, and said: I could go.
I received favor, because of who I was connected to. Wasn't anything I did, I just happened to be the son of a man that was favored. Because I was in relationship with him, his favor spilled over onto me. The scripture says Noah found favor with the Lord. When a great flood covered the earth, Noah's family were the only ones saved. It never says his sons had favor or his daughters had favor, but because they were connected to Noah, their lives were spared. The principal is: when you're connected to people, that are favored, people that are further along, people that are more successful that, favor is going to flow down to you. You'll see increase, promotion, because of that association.
There should be people you're in relationship with, that inspire you, that challenge you, that make you strive to do better. When you're connected to someone that's blessed, you honor them, you learn from them, you sow into them, the more blessed they are, the more blessed you're going to be. Eventually you're going to look like who you're connected to. The question is: are you connected to anyone, that has what you want? Or you connected to people, that are negative, critical, can't get ahead, caused you to compromise, drain your energy? It's fine to be a good influence, it's fine to encourage them, but if you're spending all your time with them, the problem, is you're going to become just like them. They're rubbing off on you. You need to disconnect from people, that are hindering your growth, limiting your potential, causing you to compromise, and find some favored connections, people that are going places, people that are at another level, people that have what you're dreaming about.
You need some eagles in your life. You cannot hang around with chickens, and reach your destiny. You can't spend all your free time with crows, people that complain, or turkeys, people that have accepted mediocrity, you need people, who are soaring, people that are taking new ground, people that are out of debt, that think bigger than you, people that are exposing you to levels that you've never seen.
Few years ago, I went to this meeting with the man, that runs television networks, a friend of mine. They were negotiating a contract for programming. He said: I want to offer 80 million dollars. Almost fell out of my chair. I thought it was a big deal, that we have spent $80,000 to buy a screen for the church. They talked about these huge numbers, like I talked about buying a pair of tennis shoes. I didn't realize it, but God was expanding my vision, he was using that man to enlarge my thinking. After the meeting I was about to tell him, "Wow! Those were some incredibly big numbers", I felt something write down in here say, Joel zip it up. When God puts you with a bunch of eagles, don't have a chicken mentality. Don't start talking about how you've never seen anything like that, how that could never happen for you. Let it take root on the inside, breathe it in, get used to it.
That's where God is taking you. That's why he's exposing you to new levels, not to just impress you, not to just show you how the other half live, but to get you prepared in your thinking. You have to make room for the new things God has in store. If you live with the limited vision, thinking it could never happen, it's too far out, then you're right, it's going to happen. You'll never go where you can't accept. And God gave you that favor connection, to give you a glimpse into the next level, to show you what he's about to take you. Now do your part and get an agreement with God.
About five years after that meeting, we acquired this place, the Former Compact Center. When I found out, it was going to cost about 120 million dollars to purchase and renovate. I didn't fall apart, I wasn't intimidated, I thought: God you did it for my friend, you can do it for me. But had I not connected with that man, had I only spent time with people at my same level, I wouldn't be here. My mind wouldn't have been prepared. You need people that think bigger than you, that dream bigger, that believe bigger. If you're the smartest one in your group, your group is too small. God has already lined up these favor connections for you. People that are ordained to help you go further.
In the scripture, Naomi and Ruth were both widows. They were living in Bethlehem, very poor. Ruth would go out into the fields each morning and pick up leftover wheat. It looked like this was their destiny, to just barely survive. But Naomi saw a man named Boaz. He was the owner of all the fields, one of the wealthiest men in that area. She not only recognized the favor on his life, but she respected it. She told Ruth, "I want you to dress up, put on perfume, and go meet this man". She was saying, in effect, "Boaz has favor. We need to connect with him," and Ruth not only met Boaz, but they fell in love and eventually were married, and because she connected with someone with favor, she had more favor than she ever imagined, and when you recognize the favor on a person's life, and you respect that favor by connecting with it, by honoring them, learning from them, that favor will come back to you.
Naomi could have thought, "Oh, Boaz, he's wealthy, he's busy. He's not going to have anything to do with us". She could've dismissed it and just stayed with the friends where she was comfortable. We wouldn't be talking about her. She recognized Boaz was an eagle, and she was willing to get out of her comfort zone. No doubt, she had to break away from a few chickens, spend less time with a couple turkeys. She took these steps of faith and connected with an eagle. That's what opened new doors and took her and Ruth to a new level. Are there favor connections God has put in your life that you're overlooking, people that have what you want, that are further along?
Don't be intimidated by their success, be inspired. God put them there so you could connect, and if you will honor them, learn from them, then because you're connected to someone with more favor, more influence, more vision, like Ruth and Naomi, that favor will flow down to you. You will see new doors open, influence in greater ways, promotion that you couldn't have reached on your own. It came because of a favor connection. See, what you sow into, you're going to reap. If you sow into worry connections, people that are always upset, anxious, worried, you're going to reap worry. If you sow into compromise connections, people that are pulling you down, causing you to give in to temptation, you're going to reap compromise.
If you sow into gossip connections, critical connections, people that talk bad about the boss, complain about life, you're going to reap a negative, limited, discouraging life. But if you sow into these favor connections, into eagles, into people that are blessed, successful, happy, people that have been where you want to go, that are out of debt, building orphanages, paying off people's houses, expanding their businesses, you're going to reap favor, increase, new levels, and we all have our friends. We have peers. Hopefully, we have people we're helping, people we're mentoring. That's important, but we should have a few of these favor connections, people that are far ahead of us. In the natural, it looks like we could never get there. That connection is the seed God is going to use to take you where you've never dreamed.
A pastor friend of mine here in Houston had a church of several hundred people. He started it 15 years ago, and they had been at that same number for years. It looked like they had reached their limits and that's all they'd ever have. But he saw this pastor in California that had a large church, and he was so impressed by it, he flew out there just to attend a service. He sat in the auditorium, looked around, and breathed it all in. It was very inspiring, never seen anything that large. After the service, he was able to meet the pastor. He gave him a small donation that his church had taken up for their ministry. Every month, he started flying out to California just to attend a service and give a donation. He had plenty of pastor friends here in Houston. He had good members in his church, had a great family.
But he understood, to reach a new level, you have to have some favor connections. You need to be sowing time, energy, resources, honor into people that have what you want. The anointing you respect is the anointing you will attract, and this man sowed into a vision much larger than his. He could have been jealous of the man, intimidated, competitive. Instead, he celebrated what he was doing. He cheered him on. It wasn't long before his church started to grow. He went from 300 to 500, from 500 to 1,000, from 1,000 to several thousand. Now his church is larger than the church in California. He outgrew that man. I don't believe it would have happened if he had not sown into his ministry, and I don't mean just finances. He sowed honor, respect, encouragement. He valued and esteemed what that man had built.
But when we see people that are more successful, more talented, more blessed, it's easy to get jealous, try to compete, discredit them, talk about what they're doing wrong, how they're not talented. They're just lucky. Here's a key: if you can't celebrate other people's success, you will never get to where they are. If you get jealous, try to outperform them, intimidated, you'll get stuck. It's a test. God brings these favor connections across our path. Are you secure enough in who you are to honor them, to respect them, to cheer them on, or will your pride keep you from connecting with their favor? The problem is, your destiny is tied to certain people. When you connect with the favor on their life, that's going to cause you to rise higher. But if we won't humble ourselves, if we think, "I'm as smart as them. I'm not going to celebrate them, Joel. They should be celebrating me". That's going to limit our growth.
What you're connected to eventually is going to come back to you. Don't be small minded where you have to be the smartest one in your circle. If you're only sowing into your level, then your level is all that's going to come back. You need to sow into where you want to go. Swallow your pride and sow honor into that supervisor at work. Sow respect into that colleague that's really talented. They're not in your life by accident. God put them there as a favor connection. As you connect to them, new doors will open for you. New talents will come out, new levels. They are instrumental in you reaching the fullness of your destiny. But too often, when we someone that's further along, someone that's more blessed, instead of being inspired, we can get discouraged, thinking, "We could never get there". God wouldn't have brought them across your path if he wasn't about to take you higher. The favor on their life is an indication of what God is about to do in yours.
In the scripture, when they poured oil on Aaron, the high priest, on his head, it flowed down to the rest of his body. This is symbolic. Oil represents favor, and when you're connected with people with favor, the more blessed they are, the more blessed you'll be. That oil will flow down to you, and when we understand this, it's easy to celebrate those that are ahead. We know because we're honoring them, sowing into them, as they rise higher, because we're connected, we're going to rise higher. That favor is going to flow down to us, and like that pastor, there will be times where you surpass what you're honoring. You overtake what you're celebrating.
When I first started ministering, I was very nervous and unsure of myself. I didn't have the training or the experience, but there were several very prominent ministers that I knew from growing up. I listened to their messages over and over. I would send them notes telling them how much they had helped me, and how much I admired and respected them. This one man, at least to me, he was a legend. He was so far ahead of me. I was amazed at what he had accomplished and how respected he was, and I say this with humility, but now, nearly 20 years later, God has taken me further than him. What am I saying? When you celebrate those that are ahead of you, you show honor, respect, then some of the favor on them is going to come back to you. You'll look up and think, "How did I get here"? Part of it is the favor connection. You connected with someone that was where you wanted to go.
That's why you don't have to compete with people. You don't have to try to outperform them. You 're not in competition with anyone except yourself. Let where they are inspire you to be the best that you can be. Like iron sharpens iron, they can sharpen you. They can make you better. But when we start competing, before long, we get jealous, find fault, try to discredit. But here's a key: pulling somebody else down will never make you rise higher. Trying to make them look bad, spreading rumors, magnifying their fault, it may feel good. The problem is, it's going to boomerang and come right back to us.
If you sow disrespect, you'll reap disrespect. If you sow spreading rumors, stirring up trouble, that's what you'll reap. A much better approach is to celebrate those that are ahead. How do you know they're not a favor connection, somebody God brought into your life so that you could rise higher? If you're jealous, competitive, then you're letting what God meant for your good to become something that's holding you back. Turn it around. Let's be people that celebrate success, that learn from those that are ahead, that honor people that are blessed with more influence.
Elijah in the scripture was a great prophet, did amazing miracles, and one day, he was walking by a field. He saw a young man named Elisha out plowing. He told him to leave his animals and come with him. Well, Elisha came from a well-to-do family. I'm sure he had goals and dreams. Elijah wanted him to become his assistant, basically, take care of him, bring him food, set up his tent, feed his animals. Elisha could've thought, "No, thanks, I'll stay here at my own place". He could've been too proud, but he recognized the favor on Elijah's life. He respected his anointing. He wasn't jealous. He didn't get bitter because he offered him what seemed to be a low-level position.
For years, he served Elijah with honor, watching after him, making sure he was comfortable, and what you sow into is what you're going to reap. When you sow into someone with great favor, you're going to reap some of that favor. When you honor someone that has more influence, some of that influence is going to come back to you. I'm sure Elisha's friends came around saying, "Elisha, what are you still doing here, serving this old man? You have your own dreams. Why don't you start your own ministry? He's holding you back". He could've let them talk him out of it, thought he was wasting his time, but he just kept on sowing, honoring, respecting the favor connection. Well, eventually, Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha received a double portion of his anointing. He didn't just get the favor on Elijah's life, he got twice the favor, and some of these favor connections that you're sowing into, giving, serving, honoring, your time is coming.
Like with Elisha, you're not just going to go to the level where they are. You're going to go further. Double the influence, double the favor, double the resources. This is why the enemy works overtime to try to get us jealous of each other, competing, trying to pull each other down. He wants us to get stuck where we are, and it's very freeing when you can celebrate those that are ahead, knowing that the seeds you sow into them, the honor, the respect, the resources, are going to come back to you. But if you're only sowing into horizontal relationships, people at your same level, then you're going to see horizontal favor. But when you're secure enough in who you are to sow into vertical relationships, people that are ahead of you, you're going to reap some of this vertical favor.
Many pastors sow into our ministry. They faithfully support and attend our events. They tell me again and again how, when they connected with us, their church started growing in new ways. One man told me recently, since 2012, he has gone from 200 people to over 6,000 people. He said, "Joel, I can pinpoint the exact time it started, when we connected with you at your night of hope in our city". I'm not bragging. This is a spiritual principle. God had people in your life that are favor connections. You could be one relationship away from a new level. Look around, find the people that God is blessing, and don't be intimidated, don't be jealous, connect with them. If you'll honor, respect, sow into them, that favor will come back to you.
I know a man that had a dream of being in the hospitality business. He wanted to own hotels. When he was 18, he met an older gentleman that owned one of the largest hotel chains in the world. He convinced him to give him a job working as a bellman at one of his hotels. Every time this young man saw the owner, he went overboard to take care of him, opening the door, carrying his briefcase, constantly sowing, honoring, respecting. The owner loved this young man, kept promoting him. In his early 30s, he left to start his own business, and there was a piece of very expensive real estate overlooking the ocean that this owner was planning on building a big hotel.
Well, this young man asked if he could buy that property from him. This was their prime location that they were planning on this big project. The owner said, "I never dreamed I would do this, but you have been so good to me, I want you to be successful. I'm going to sell you this property". It had taken them over ten years to acquire it. That young man built a beautiful resort. It's incredibly successful. Today, he has hotels all over the world. It all started when he recognized a favor connection. There are people God has put in your life not to compete with, but to connect with. They are instrumental in you rising higher, and this is not about playing up to people, trying to win them over. It's about recognizing and respecting the favor that God's placed on people.
Luke chapter 5, Jesus had just borrowed Peter's boat to teach the people from the shore. When he finished, he told Peter to launch out into the deep and he would catch a great haul of fish. Well, Peter had fished all night, but he went back out to try it again. He caught so many fish that his net began to break, and verse 7 says: "Peter shouted for help, and his partners came". Soon, both boats were so loaded with fish, they were concerned the boats might sink. Peter was blessed because he obeyed. He had favor. But notice, the favor didn't stop with him. He caught so many fish that his partners, those that were connected with him, they received the overflow. When you connect with someone that's blessed, someone that's favored, as they increase, you'll increase.
Peter's partners hadn't done anything to really deserve the fish. Peter was the one that lent Jesus the boat. God could've just sent enough fish to fill Peter's boat, made sure Peter was paid back, but God on purpose blessed Peter in such a way, there would be overflow so all in partnership, all those connected would see increase and favor as well. Who you're connected to is extremely important. There are blessings that belong to you that are attached to the people God's placed in your life, and if you're not seeing any fish, you need to evaluate who you're connected to. You may need to disconnect from relationships that aren't producing any increase, and connect with people that are blessed, people that are seeing favor. Peter's boat was not only full of fish, but his partner's boat was full of fish.
You're going to become like who you're connected to. Again, are you connected to anyone that has what you want, people that are more blessed, people that are more successful? Look around, find the favor connections in your life. Don't be intimidated because they're further along. Don't be jealous because they have more. Celebrate them, honor them, sow into them. If you'll do this, I believe and declare, because you're connected to favor, like Peter's friends, your boat is going to be full. You're going to see increase, promotion, new levels, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus's name.