Joel Osteen - Scared Into Greatness
I want to talk to you today about Scared into Greatness. We all like when life is going our way, our family is happy, business is strong, everything is right on schedule. That's good for a season, but if we're comfortable all the time, we won't reach our destiny. We don't grow when everything is going our way, we grow when we have to stretch, when we're uncomfortable, when we're a little bit nervous, unsure of how it's going to work out. And sometimes God will shake things up. He'll take you out of what's familiar, he'll remove a friend that you counted on or put you in a position, where you're over your head. You lost a client, you don't have the funds. Now it's uncertain, you're a little scared, you pray like you've never prayed, you get up early and do things you wouldn't normally do. It's uncomfortable, you don't like it, but God uses the scary places to move us into our destiny.
Don't think life always be smooth. What God has in your future will scare you. Dreams bigger than you can accomplish on your own, obstacles that you can't overcome by yourself. And when things happens that we don't like we tend to blame the enemy, but sometimes it's God. We weren't made to stay where we are, at the same level. We were made to take new ground. And to do that, you have to get out of your comfort zone. When you face something that's unfamiliar, it can be intimidating, even scary. You've defeated some opponents, but when you see Goliath, something much bigger, it's like: God, he's twice my size, I have no chance, I'm scared, you need to find somebody else. God wouldn't have allowed it, if you didn't have what it takes. He has already equipped you, empowered you and anointed you. You have been armed with strength for every battle.
You may feel fear, that's ok, fear comes to us all, the key is: do it afraid, do it in spite of what you feel, do it in spite of what your thoughts are telling you. Don't get talked out of your destiny, God is setting you up to go to a new level. But we all want to be comfortable, we like to have everything figured out, the truth is: we are at our best, when we're a little bit nervous, a little unsure of how it's going to work out with a little healthy fear, where we have to depend on God. If you can do everything in your own strength, you don't need faith. If you know where all the funds are coming from, all the people lined up, everything in place, that's good, but at some point you're going to have to put a demand on your faith. You have to stretch and dream a bigger dream.
"Well, I'm happy, God blessed me". Why don't you dream bigger, so you can help somebody else, so you can build that orphanage, so you can buy a friend a car, so you can set a new standard for your family? We were not put here to coast through life. If you don't take some risk, if you don't stretch, God loves you so much, he'll help you get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes we don't have a choice, God pushes us into a scary place.
When a mother eagle has baby eaglets, she makes a nest for the eaglets that's very comfortable, cushioned with grass, leaves and soft branches. For the first part of their lives, the eaglets are so happy, so well taken care of. When they're hungry all they have to do is open their beaks, the mother drops food in. They don't have to worry about protection, animals, the mother has them high on the side of a cliff, out of reach, constantly watching over them. But a few months in, the mother starts removing the soft cushion from the nest, she takes out the leaves and things that make it so comfortable. Now when the eagle sits, they feel the branches and the sticks poking them. They don't like it, they get out and spend a few hours on the rocks, hopping around, they think they're just playing together, but they're developing their muscles.
When the mother knows they're strong enough, she'll push a baby eaglet out of the nest, off the cliff, the eaglet starts falling to the ground. Don't you know if the eaglet could talk, it would say: what has gotten into mama? This mother that has fed me, loved me, protected me, made my life so comfortable, is now trying to kill me. Just as the eaglet is about to hit the ground, the mother swoops and grabs it. The eaglet thinks thank God, she came back to her senses. Now, mama take me back to the nest and we'll forget all about this, I won't tell anyone. Otherwise EPS will show up - "Eaglet Protective Services".
The mother takes the baby back, puts it in the nest just when the eaglet thinks it's comfortable she pushes it out again. This time when the eaglet is falling, it starts flapping its wings, trying to gain its balance. It's not thinking about flying, doesn't know what the wings are for. It's just trying to break the fall, when it naturally starts moving its wings. After doing this a few more times, the little eaglet finally discovers its wings and starts flying behind the mother. Before long its soaring all through the sky.
The nest the eaglet was in was a blessing for a time, it was necessary, but at a certain point the nest will no longer be a blessing, it will become a hindrance. The eaglet can't develop its wings in the nest. If the mother didn't push it out, wouldn't survive. And sometimes the nest we're in is too small. As much as we like it, it's limiting our growth. We're comfortable, we like the protection, the provision, being taken care of, the problem is, you'll never develop your wings in the nest, you won't reach your potential without having to stretch. Try new things, develop new muscles. Maybe like that eaglet you think: what is going on in my life? It's gotten so much more difficult, a friend walked away, my coworker won't help me anymore. God is pushing you out of the nest.
The scripture says: as the eagle stirs the nest, so God will stir us. And sometimes we don't like the stirring, but that's God working in our lives. Do you know, when the eaglets discovered their wings? Not when they're in the nest, not when their hop on the rocks, they discovered they can fly, when they're falling, when they're afraid. In the scary places you will discover things you never knew you had: talent, strength, wisdom, determination, that you would have never known, if you would have stayed in the nest. And yes, the scary places are not comfortable, but like the mother eagle, God is right there with you, he is not going to let you hit the ground. You may have things coming against you now, that you don't understand. Feels like God has pushed you out of the nest. It's uncomfortable, but if you'll stay in faith, you're about to discover your wings. You don't belong in the nest, you were created to soar, to reach new heights, to take new ground.
The question is: how we handle the scary times? It's easy to get discouraged: God why did you let this happen? Why did I lose a loved one? What did my business go down? Why did this friend betray me? Sometimes when God stirs the nest doesn't make sense. The right attitude is: God, I don't understand this, but I trust you. I know you are still on the throne and I'm not gonna live bitter, upset, complaining, because my plans didn't work out, I know, your plans for me are for good.
20 years ago this week my father went to be with the Lord. He had a heart attack and unexpectedly died. I had worked 17 years for my father behind the scenes here at Lakewood, doing the television production. I was comfortable, I was fulfilled, I thought that's what I would do the rest of my life. But God's dream for our life is so much bigger than our own. Sometimes we think we're out of the nest, we think we've discovered our wings, you haven't seen anything yet. You don't know what God is up to. When my dad died, I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but I had never minister, and all the what-if thoughts came: Joel, what if you try and fail? What if people don't like you? What if nobody comes? It's easy to talk ourselves out of it, but when you come to the end of life, will you have more regrets over the risk you took or over the risk you didn't take? I would rather try and fail, than to play it safe all the time and never really know.
The truth is: if my father was still alive, I wouldn't be up here. I was comfortable behind the scenes, I liked the nest, I didn't want to have to stretch, get out in front of people, God had to push me out. There were times, I was so afraid, I felt like I had to hold on to the podium. Thoughts were telling me that I couldn't do it, but it was in that scary place I discovered talent, that I didn't know I had. My father had asked me for years to help him pastor the church, I didn't know I could do this, it was in me all the time, but had God not pushed me out of the nest, I would have never discovered my wings. You're going to come into these times, where God shakes things up. You're over your head, you think: what in the world is happening? God is about to take you to a new level.
The scripture says: God brought them out on eagle's wings. Eagles fly higher than any other bird. God didn't give you a set of chicken wings, be pecking around on the ground, in mediocrity. He didn't give you crows wings, turkeys wings, you have eagle's wings, you're about to soar to new heights, you're about to see new opportunities, new relationships, new levels of influence in favor.
When I look back over my life, the times have grown, discovered new gifts, become more confident, it was never in the easy times, it was when I had to stretch, when I was uncomfortable, when I was over my head, when I was scared. At the time I didn't like it, but I can tell you now, it was good that God pushed me out, it was good that I had to stretch. You wouldn't be who you are without the scary places. That's where you developed your wings, that's where you discovered what's in you. The eaglet would say to the mother now: mother thank you for making the nest uncomfortable, thank you for pushing me out, I know at the time I was cussing you out, I was upset, complaining, never going to talk to you, but now I can see what you were doing, you were helping me discover my wings.
There are a lot of things in life, that we don't understand. Sometimes it feels unfair to get pushed out, the company you were so loyal to says they're downsizing and don't need you, the diagnosis wasn't good, a friend walked away - it's a scary place. God doesn't send the trouble, but he does allow things to happen. We may not understand it, but I have never come out of a scary place, where I wasn't better. When it was all said and done, when I look back I could see how it made me stronger, more confident, wiser, it gave me a greater trust in God, it put me closer toward my destiny. And as much as I miss my father and honor his legacy, what I thought would be my darkest hour, the loss of my father actually launched me into my brightest hour. When you keep the right attitude, all things will work for your good.
Then, when you face dreams that look to big, obstacles that seem insurmountable, scary places, you can look back and see how God brought you through in the past, how he made a way where you didn't see a way, how he gave you peace that passes understanding, gave you a strength to do what you couldn't do on your own. Those victories become fuel for your faith, you'll know God did it for you back then, he'll do it for you now. Every victory is not just for the present, you're going to need it in the future. But if you sweep back, let things intimidate you, play it safe all the time, you're not going to have what you need for where God is taking you. The scripture says God takes us from glory to glory, from victory to victory, that last victory you're going to need for your next victory.
That's why I'm constantly talking about how God healed my mother from terminal cancer in 1981, how God gave us the Compaq Center, how God helped me through the loss of my father. Those were some of my scary places, where the odds were against me. I was afraid, intimidated, nervous, but I did it afraid, God showed up, did something more than I could imagine. Now, the reason I talk about it, is because I need fuel for my faith, I need to remember what God has done, so I won't shrink back when new opportunities come my way.
But it's easy to play it safe all the time, it's easy to stay in the nest, we think it's dangerous to get out. The truth is, it's more dangerous to stay in the nest. The baby eaglet, if it stayed in the nest, never discovered its wings, even though it was comfortable, it would die in the nest. My challenge to you is: don't die in your nest. Don't become so comfortable, that you won't take a risk. You have to go after what God put in your heart. "Well, Joel, I'm afraid". You're supposed to be afraid. If you weren't afraid, it wouldn't be your destiny. What God has for you is too big to accomplish on your own. There is potential in you waiting to be released.
Sometimes God pushes us out, like when my dad died and I got pushed out, God closed that door, other times we have to make the decision. God told the prophet Elijah to anoint a young man named Elisha as his successor. He saw him plowing in the field he went over and threw his mantle on him and asked him to come with him. Well, Elisha had a good job, he was in the family business, had a bright future there, no doubt, one day his parents would turn it over to him. But when he saw Elijah, he took the mantle, something came alive in his spirit. Deep down he knew, he was supposed to walk away from the familiar into the unknown. The problem was, it was scary. Staying on the farm was safe, everything was lined up, his income was set, his retirement had a nice place to live. Thoughts told him: stay where you are, you're comfortable. Family members tried to reason with him. You don't know this prophet Elisha, he may not keep his word, you may get out there and fail. Deep down something said: this is your moment, this is your destiny, step out in faith.
Some opportunities don't come a second time, they are destiny moments: now-or-never. Like when my dad died I was afraid, I didn't know if I could step up and pastor the church, but I knew, I didn't have two years to think about it. That opportunity wouldn't pass by again. My attitude was: if I try and fail, I can go back to doing television production, but I am not going to go to my grave, wondering what would have happened if I had not let fear hold me back? What I could have become if I was not intimidated by the scary place? I was afraid, but on the other side of the fear was a destiny bigger than I ever imagined. What God has in your future will scare you, but if you'll take a step of faith, you'll see how God scared you into greatness, he scared you into levels you've never dreamed, he scared you into taking new ground.
Elisha cut up the plow and burned it, he killed the ox and boiled the meat. He was saying: I'm done going around in circles, I'm done settling for mediocrity, I'm not gonna plow this field the rest of my life, I have greatness in me. Life is too short to settle for things, that are less than what you know is in you. Don't stay on a job when you're not challenged the rest of your life. Don't stay in a field that you don't enjoy, you don't have any passion. You weren't made to go around and around the next 40 years, doing something unfulfilling. Look for new opportunities, stretch, grow, take courses, learn. Do your part and God will send Elijah by, he'll bring you an opportunity, that not only scares you, but excites you, you'll know it's your purpose.
Elisha was afraid uncertain of what the future held, but he did it afraid. He dared to leave the familiar, believe that God had something better. If you're going to reach your destiny, there will be times you have to do like him, walk away from what's comfortable into the unknown. And sometimes it's just in our mind, quit telling yourself: you can't teach the class, you're just an assistant, you can't run the department, you don't have those skills, you'll never start your business, never write the book, never lead the company in sales, you don't have that kind of talent. Don't believe those lies, you have greatness in you, you are destined to leave your Mark. But the enemy would love to convince you to stay in the nest intimidated, afraid, so your potential is never released. You have to get out of the safe zone and come into the faith zone. You cannot play it safe your whole life and become all you were created to be.
When you know God has put something in your heart, you're excited about it, you can't get away from it, you wake up in the morning thinking about it, then you have to take a risk. Well, Joel, what if I try and it doesn't work out? What if you try and it does work out? The better question is: what if you don't try and miss your destiny? What if you get to heaven and God says: I created you to do amazing things, why did you stay in the nest? Why did you let people talk you out of it? Why did you let your thoughts convince you you can't do it? Why did you let fear hold you back? Nothing will be sadder than to come to the end of life and wonder what we could have become, if we had just taken some risks. Part of faith is stepping into the unknown. The good news is: God is in the scary places, that's where he'll show out in your life, that's where you'll discover your wings, that's where he'll take you further than you've dreamed.
And the reason some people aren't happy today is they're bored, they have so much more in them, but they're stuck doing something mediocre. God is stirring you out of that nest, stretch, grow, look for new opportunities. "Well, I'm comfortable". God didn't call us to be comfortable, he called us to take new ground, to advance the kingdom. You need something in front of you that challenges you, that makes you get up early and pray, makes you more discipline, more focused. You don't have time to waste or it won't work out. We grow in the scary times. Elisha left the fields and followed Elijah. Not long after that, Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind, Elisha received a double portion of his spirit, he did twice as many miracles. Suppose he would have played it safe, stayed where it was familiar, we wouldn't be talking about it, he wouldn't have become one of the heroes of faith. He was afraid, but that scary place led him into greatness.
Are you letting fear hold you back? It's time to do it afraid, don't die in your nest. Maybe you passed up some opportunities and you think you've missed your chance, no, get ready, God is about to scare you again, he's about to bring something across your path that looks so big, so amazing. In your spirit you're excited, you know it's for you, but your mind says: there's no way, you don't have the talent, the resources, don't go after the Compaq Center, don't try to step up and pastor that church, stay in your nest. This is your time, this is your moment, your destiny is calling. Come on over into the scary places - that's where God is, that's where you'll see his favor, that's where doors will open you couldn't open, that's where gifts will come out, you didn't know you had. Greatness is waiting for you in the scary place. Now come out of the nest, start using your wings, not chicken wings, eagle's wings, you were created to soar.
Maybe you're where I was 20 years ago this week, when my dad died, you've gone through a loss, a disappointment, something you don't understand. It's taking the wind out of yourselves, you've lost your passion, you're breathing but you're not really living, there's nothing exciting to get up for in the morning. God is going to do for you, what he did for me, he's going to take that dark place and use it to launch you into a new level of your destiny. What you lost is not the end, it is a new beginning. God doesn't waste anything, it's getting you prepared for where he's taking you. He has beauty for those ashes, you haven't seen your best days, God is about to scare you again, he's going to bring new opportunities, new relationships things so amazing, it seems too good to be true. Don't swing back, step into the new. God wants you to dream again, to love again, to laugh again, to believe again, it's in the scary place.
After what I've seen God do these last 20 years, take me further than I've ever dreamed, I've learned now: if it doesn't scare me, it's not big enough. If we can do it on our own, we don't need faith. You may feel fear, but don't let comfort keep you from your calling. Do it afraid. If you'll be willing to leave the unfamiliar and step into the unknown, I believe and declare: God is about to bring greatness out of you, you're about to discover your wings, soar to heights you've never imagined, overcome obstacles that look insurmountable and reach the fullness of your destiny in Jesus name.