Joel Osteen - Calling Over Comfort
I want to talk to you today about Calling Over Comfort. It's easy to get comfortable in life with things that are less than God's best. We know there's more in us, but we don't want to have to stretch, we don't want to take that risk: what if it doesn't work out? What if the door doesn't open? We can get comfortable with friends that are pulling us down. Comfortable with addictions, comfortable with self-pity, always thinking about what we didn't get, how we're at a disadvantage. The problem with staying comfortable is: you will miss your destiny. When God is about to take you higher there will always be this conflict, something you have to choose: comfort or calling? Are you going to stay where you are, not rock the boat, not have to stretch, not have to be more disciplined, not have to push past your fears? Are you going to choose to stay comfortable or are you going to step out in faith and take a risk?
If you'll leave the comfort and come into the calling God will make things happen that you couldn't make happen. But too often we think, "When I get the courage I'll do this. When I have the strength, the confidence then I'll get out of my comfort zone, then I'll forgive the person that hurt me, then I'll deal with this bad attitude". But if you're waiting to feel what you need to feel, you'll be waiting your whole life. You may not ever feel like forgiving that person that did you wrong, you feel bitter, you feel angry. You have to make a move then God will make a move. You may not have the strength now, that's because God's waiting for you to move. When you step out strength will come, courage will come, favor will come.
Are you choosing comfort over the calling? Are there areas where you know you need to make changes, you need to work on a relationship, you need to forgive, you need to stretch but you're letting fear, what people will think, how it seems too hard to keep you in your comfort? God is saying: if you'll choose my calling over your comfort, if you'll do what I'm asking you to do even though it's difficult, then I'll step in and give you supernatural strength, I'll give you the boldness, the courage, the favor to accomplish dreams, to overcome obstacles, to go where you couldn't go on your own.
John chapter 5, there was a man that had been crippled for 38 years. Every day people carried him on a mat to the pool of Bethesda. There was a legend they believed that when the waters bubbled up an angel was touching the water and the first person in would be healed. There were five large porches around this pool, it was surrounded by sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed. Year after year this man came to the pool. I can imagine the first few years he believed he would get well. He came with expectancy, knowing that it could happen that day. But the first year passed and nothing happened, then another and another. Now, 38 years later he wasn't expecting anything to happen. He had tried, it didn't work out, now he was comfortable in his dysfunction. He was surrounded by other people that were dysfunctional. This is all he knew. Going to the pool every day, laying there talking to his friends that were lame, blind, couldn't walk.
Sometimes when we're dysfunctional we like to get around other dysfunctional people. That way we feel more at ease. When we're insecure we find other people that are insecure. When we're struggling with an addiction we find other people that are addicted. No, don't get around people that enable your dysfunction. If you're depressed don't hang around people that are depressed. If you're fighting an illness don't go find other people that are sick, so you can sit around talk about your illnesses. Hang around people that have what you want, not people that are struggling with what you struggle with. The enemy would love for you to stay in a limited environment that holds you down, limits your vision, keeps you from dreaming, believing, expecting. Don't fall into that trap. If you're depressed find some happy friends. If you're addicted find some free friends. If you're sick find some healthy friends. If you're broke find some blessed friends.
One day Jesus showed up at this pool. Out of all the people there Jesus came over to this man. He said (John 5:6), "Do you want to get well"? That seemed like an odd question, that's why he was by the pool. But you can be at the right place in the wrong frame of mind and miss your miracle. Jesus knew after all those years the man was comfortable, he had lost his passion to be well. Instead of saying, "Yes, I want to get well, that's what I've been believing for", the man said, "I can't get well. I don't have anyone to help me. When the angel comes, someone always gets in in front of me". Jesus didn't feel sorry for the man, he didn't say, "Too bad, you're at a disadvantage". Jesus looked at the man and said, "Rise, pick up your bed and walk".
Jesus asked him to do something that he couldn't do. The man could have said, "What do you mean get up? Don't you know I'm crippled? I haven't walked in 38 years". This man heard the call. Jesus told him to rise up, but every thought said "You can't get up. You've been this way too long". He had to make a decision: am I going to stay in my dysfunction where I'm comfortable, where I've been the last 38 years, or am I going to act on the calling, am I going to stretch, try something that I've never done? Something rose up in this man, against all odds he sat up, suddenly strength came into his legs, he stood up and started walking, instantly he was healed.
None of this would have happened if he would have stayed where he was comfortable. Anytime God is going to do something new in your life, give you more influence, more favor, more anointing, more resources, there's going to be this test of being uncomfortable. Are you willing to stretch, to do something you've never done, move away from tradition, from certain people, from what you're familiar with? Don't let the comfort keep you from the calling. Where God is taking you is going to require risk, you're going to have to leave what's familiar and step into the unknown.
Like this man God is going to ask you to do things that you don't think you can do. In your own ability you can't, but when you take that step of faith God will step in and give you supernatural ability. But sometimes we've been a certain way so long, we've convinced ourselves of what we can't do. "I can't run my department I don't have the talent. I can't break this addiction I've had it since high school. I can't get the Compaq Center, I've only been ministering for two years". God doesn't ask you and did not give you what you need. The question is: are you going to stay comfortable where it's safe or are you going to step into your calling?
I'm not saying this is easy. If it was easy everyone would do it. This takes boldness, this takes a made-up mind that says "I am not going to let fear, insecurity, what I don't think I can do keep me in my limited environment. I'm going to stretch, I'm going to take risk, I may have to hurt some feelings, but I'm going to make changes to follow the call. Not going to sit around in dysfunction, surrounded by dysfunctional friends. I'm going to rise and walk".
Your destiny is too great. Your assignment too important to let fear, what will people think and what if it doesn't work out to hold you back. If you know how everything is going to work out you don't need faith. If you can accomplish your dreams in your own ability, then your dreams are too small. That may be a stepping stone, but God will put dreams in your heart where you don't have the finances, the connections, the experience. If he doesn't show up then it won't happen. You'll be tempted to think like the lame man: "I can't walk. God, you're telling me to do something that I've never done". If you'll take that step of faith you'll see God do something that you've never seen. You'll see doors open that you couldn't open. You'll see divine connections, people show up that want to help you, things fall into place.
That's because in your calling there's favor, in your calling opportunities will find you. In your calling you'll break addictions, you'll beat the cancer, you'll defeat that depression. But in your comfort you'll get stuck where you are. If you're always comfortable then there'll be lack, dysfunction, mediocrity. God is saying to you, "I'm calling you up higher. I'm calling you into abundance. I'm calling you into freedom. I'm calling you into new levels".
Now, don't let comfort hold you back. The fear may still be there, but you have to act on your purpose not on your fear. Fear will keep you from your destiny. Fear will keep you by the pool another year. You may feel fear, but you have to do it afraid. As you step out courage will come, confidence will show up, the favor, the blessing, the healing it's waiting for you not in your comfort, but in your calling. If you're never uncomfortable you're not growing. If you never have to stretch your faith, you're never over your head, then you're going to be limited. God will bring opportunities across your path, so you can come up to a new level, go where you've never been, break bondages that have been passed down in your family line.
It takes courage, it takes a holy determination. You'll be tempted to play it safe, don't rock the boat, I don't want to have to stretch, try something new, it seems impossible. God wouldn't have given you the opportunity, he wouldn't have told you to rise and walk if you couldn't do it. Don't let comfort hold you back. Being comfortable will keep you from your potential. You were created to stretch, you were created to go further.
And yes, there will be seasons where you're comfortable, seasons where you're enjoying favor and blessings, but God is not going to leave you in your comfort. He's taken you from glory to glory. You can't reach new levels of glory without being uncomfortable, without having to stretch, without believing for things that seem unlikely. I've learned: the calling will disrupt your comfort. There will be strategic times in your life like this crippled man, that God will call you up higher, he'll call you to break the addiction. You are fine for a long time, but suddenly you know you have to do something. He'll call you to leave the familiar and go into the unknown.
That's what happened to me: I worked 17 years behind the scenes here at Lakewood doing the television production. When my father went to be with the Lord I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but I was comfortable behind the scenes,. I didn't want to be in front of people, I wouldn't know what to say, all these fears, insecurity, intimidation were trying to hold me back. I had to make a decision: was I going to act on my calling or stay in my comfort?
There were all these loud thoughts saying "You better stay where you are. You don't have the training, the experience, you've never ministered before, it's not worth the risk". God was calling me to rise and walk. Like that crippled man my first thought was "I can't, I've never done it". But when I got quiet I could hear this still small voice telling me "Joel, you've got what it takes. You've been raised up for this time, this is your moment, you are well able".
The enemy will always tell you what you can't do, but if you'll turn down his lies, you'll hear a still small voice telling you what you can do. You can break the addiction, you can beat the cancer, you can teach that class, you can start that business, you can pay your house off, you can rise and walk. "Well, Joel, what if I try and it doesn't work out"? What if you try and it does work out? What if you take that step of faith and you go to a new level? What if it thrusts you further than you've imagined? What if you discover you can do what you've never done? You can walk, you can lead, you can live free and whole.
Don't let the what-ifs talk you out of your destiny. Turn them around "What if God shows up and favors you? What if doors opened you never dreamed would open? What if you beat the addiction after all these years"? Here's the key: if you never try, you're never going to know. There are no risk in playing it safe, no risk in lying by the pool another 38 years, you already know what's going to happen. But how sad it will be to come to the end of life and never know what you could have become if you would have just dared take some risk, if you would have acted on the call and not the comfort, if you would have listened to the still small voice, the Most High God, instead of all the loud intimidating lies of the enemy.
When my father went to be with the Lord, there were other family members on staff that were ministers: my sisters, brothers-in-laws. They had more experience, they were very capable excellent ministers. They could have wanted to pastor the church. My personality type is: I don't like conflict. I want everyone to be happy. I'll go out of my way to avoid even a possible confrontation. But I knew if I was going to step up and do what God called me to do, I had to tell my family what I was thinking. I asked if they would all meet me at the church one morning.
You talk about being uncomfortable way out of what I was used to, I called this big family meeting the first time in my life. I was so nervous, wondering what everyone was going to think, how it was going to turn out. But when you make a move, God will make a move. I told them how I felt, like God wanted me to pastor the church. I didn't know how it was going to work out or even if it was right, but that's what I believed in my heart. I waited for all this conflict, all this debate. I'm sure some others felt the same way that they were supposed to become the pastor. After all, they had more credentials. All I had was my high school diploma, one year of college and my good looks - that was debatable.
After my big speech the whole room went silent. Finally my sister Lisa spoke up and said, "Joel, if you feel that way we're all going to support you". The next person said the same thing and again and again. I thought, "You mean there's not going to be this big debate, all this tension, strife, discord"? When you step into your calling, God will make your crooked places straight. He'll cause people to be for you that could be against you, he'll prepare their hearts, he'll fight your battles.
That meeting ended with my mother saying, "Joel, I can't believe it's going to be you. You're the least likely one". I said thank you mother for your confidence. I walked out of there feeling about two feet tall. Friends life is short. Time is flying by. You have to make this decision: are you going to stay comfortable or are you going to step into your calling? On the other side of that uncomfortableness are new levels, new relationships, businesses, Compaq Centers. Are you letting fear hold you back, fear of what might happen? I had played out in my mind over and over that family meeting: strife, discord, contention, arguing - none of that happened.
Most of the negative things you think are going to happen are not going to happen. Why? God has already prepared the way. He's already lined up the right people, he's moving out the wrong people, he has the breaks you need, the favor, the strength, the healing, the freedom - all he needs is for you to step into your calling. Don't let fear hold you back, fear of what people are going to think, what are they going to say, what if they're not for me? If they're not for you, then you don't need them. Your destiny is not dependent on everyone being for you. God has already lined up the people you need that will be there to support you, people that will help you accomplish your dreams.
Now if a person or a group of people could stop your destiny - they would be more powerful than God. Quit worrying about what they might say, "They may not be for me, they may try to discredit me". They cannot stand against our God, him being for you is more than the world being against you. We all have these times like I had: they are destiny moments, that opportunity is not going to pass by again. If you let fear keep you in your comfort zone, people didn't stop you, you stopped yourself. I'm asking you to choose your calling over your comfort. Every time God has taken me to a new level, every time I've seen favor in greater ways, one common thing has happened: I was uncomfortable, I had to do something I didn't like, I had to stretch, I had to walk down a path that wasn't familiar.
There was a lady in the scripture named Rahab. She lived in the city of Jericho. She didn't have a good reputation, she was a prostitute. People looked down on her, didn't give her the time of day, thought why would she live like that? But God never writes anyone off. The scripture says (Romans 11:29), "His calling on your life is irrevocable". That means God has already given you an assignment, he's already called you and he's not going to change his mind. You may make mistakes, get off course, do things you know you shouldn't, but that doesn't change the call. God still has a destiny for you to fulfill. His mercy is bigger than any mistake that you've made.
Joshua and the Israelites were headed to the Promised Land. The city of Jericho stood in their path. Joshua sent two men in to spy out the land. They looked around all that day, at night they needed a place to stay. Of all the places they came to Rahab's house. She found out who they were and something came alive on the inside, all of the sudden she had this desire to help them. She told them how she believed in their God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. She not only took them in, but she hid them.
The next morning the king of Jericho sent mens to Rahab's house and said, "Bring those men out, they're spies". She said, "I'm sorry, they left last night out the city gates right before dusk. If you hurry you can probably still catch them". Those men took off. The spies told her, "Because you protected us, when we attack the city we're not going to harm you or anyone in your house". Rahab's life was spared. None of this would have happened if she wasn't willing to take a risk. She had to decide: am I going to stay where it's comfortable, keep living in dysfunction, doing things I'm not proud of or am I going to step into my calling? She had this boldness, this courage to do something out of the ordinary. She had to take a chance that the king would find out that she was hiding the spies. But deep down she knew this was a destiny moment, a chance to do the right thing, to show God that she believed in him.
I'm sure thoughts told her, "God's not going to have anything to do with you. Look at the life you've lived, look at all the mistakes you've made". Somehow Rahab tuned all that out and thought, "God, I know you still have a purpose for me. I know I can still leave my mark". She took this risk and her whole world changed. Rahab ended up marrying a Jewish man, they had a son named Boaz. Boaz married Ruth, they had a son named Obed. Obed had a son named Jesse. Jesse had a son named David. That means Rahab, this former prostitute is in the family line of Jesus Christ.
Like Rahab when you choose your calling over your comfort, you can affect generations to come. Who knows how not only your life will be impacted for the good, but because you chose to stretch when you felt like playing it safe, you chose to take the high road instead of compromising, you chose to leave the comfort of the addiction, the comfort of the dysfunction and take steps to overcome, your family line will look back and see the blessing, the freedom, the abundance started with you. You saying "Yes" to your calling, you being willing to be obedient, to do the right thing when it was hard, to forgive when you were wrong, to push past fear and step into your purpose, you were the difference maker.
Is there some area God is asking you to leave your comfort and come into your calling? Rahab felt the calling on her life, but the environment wasn't conducive to serve God. They didn't worship Jehovah, no one in her family believed in God, she was in an occupation that was looked down on. But because she stepped out of her comfort, what she was used to she is now listed as one of the heroes of faith.
Maybe like her you come from a family that doesn't have any kind of faith, you're in an environment with people that don't have anything to do with God. All around you there's compromising, mediocrity, people taking the easy way out. The reason you feel this stirring in your spirit, the reason something is coming alive on the inside is because God is calling you. He's been waiting for you, you're not hearing this by accident, this is a destiny moment. The question is: will you leave your comfort and step into your calling? Will you leave what's familiar, things that have held you down, people that are causing you to compromise, and make this decision that you're going to honor God, you're going to step up to who you were created to be?
It's easy to play it safe, "Don't rock the boat, I don't want to have to change. I don't want to be uncomfortable", but you'll never fulfill your purpose staying comfortable. On the other side of this discomfort is a new level of your destiny. I know today I am looking at heroes of faith. I'm looking at people that have greatness in them: great courage, great talent, great favor. "Well, not me Joel, I've had a rough background, I'm not in a good environment". You're right where Rahab was: you are one decision away from stepping into your greatness, one decision from setting your family on a new course to freedom, honor, blessing, victory.
Now, do your part: leave the comfort and come into your calling. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: like the crippled man chains that have held you back are being broken, sicknesses, addictions, lack, poverty, limited thinking, you're about to rise and walk, God is about to do what you couldn't do on your own. Like Rahab, you're going to see favor, promotion, protection, the right people, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name.