Joel Osteen - Living Cause-Driven
I want to talk to you today about Living Cause-Driven. There should be something we're involved in that's bigger than ourselves. It's good to have personal goals and dreams, things that we want to accomplish, but if you're only focused on yourself you won't reach your highest potential. You were created to help someone else, to be a blessing, to lift the fallen, to encourage those that are down, to fight for those that can't fight for themselves. You need to have a cause that you're passionate about, some way that you can make the world a better place. It may be to volunteer at the women's shelter, to mentor that young men, to do repairs for the elderly neighbors. Maybe your cause is to support great organizations, to help build that children's home, to fund the ministry, to pay that single mom's rent. The cause may be to break the addiction, so your children don't have to deal with it. To come out of poverty and lack to set a new standard for your family.
When you live cause driven, you'll do things you wouldn't normally do: you'll get up early, you'll make sacrifices, you'll show up when you had other things to do — you're committed to the cause. You don't wake up in the morning thinking, "I don't feel like going to work. I don't want to deal with these problems". Your attitude is, "I'm on a mission. I have an assignment. It's not just about me, somebody needs what I have, somebody's counting on me — I'm going to be a positive force for good in my neighborhood, in my family, on my job".
The reason many people are not happy is they're ingrown. As long as you're only focused on you, you're not going to be fulfilled. Look around at how you can be a blessing. When you give your time, energy and resources to care for the hurting, to lift those that are disadvantaged, to bring their dreams to pass, you will see favor in new ways. Are you waiting for God to bless you when God is waiting for you to be a blessing? The next level of your destiny is connected to helping someone else!
David was 17 years old out in the shepherds fields taking care of sheep. Looked like he was stuck there. He didn't come from an influential family, he didn't have an important position — all the circumstances said he would live an ordinary, average life, never do anything great. One day his father asked him to take lunch to his brothers, they were in the army in another city. He could have said, "Dad, I don't want to do that. I'm not an errand boy, I'm busy with these sheep. Find somebody else". He could have refused, but this small act of obedience, doing something kind for his brothers, going out of his way to be good to them is what led to his destiny. Don't discount the small things you can do for people: bringing them a cup of coffee, giving them a ride home, making dinner for that neighbor that's not feeling well, staying late to help train that new co-worker — these small acts of obedience can lead to big blessings.
When David arrived in the city and gave lunch to his brothers, the Philistine giant Goliath started taunting the Israelites. For 40 days he came out twice a day: in the morning and in the evening and shouted threats. When the Israelites heard them they were terrified, they ran away afraid. But something rose up in David, a holy anger. He said "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he would defy the armies of the living God"? He asked "What would be done for the man that killed Goliath"? David's older brother overheard what he was asking. He was critical of David, he could sense the favor on his life. He said "David what are you even doing here? What have you done with those few sheep you're supposed to be taken care of"? He was saying "You can't do anything about this giant, look how small you are".
David could have been offended, argued, instead he answered back (in 1 Samuel 17:29), "Is there not a cause"? He was saying "You may be afraid, you may be passive, but this giant is not going to dishonor my God — this is a cause worth fighting for". Something was birthed in David at that moment: a fire, a passion to bring Goliath down. What took David from the shepherd's fields into his destiny was a cause. He was willing to get involved in something bigger than himself. He didn't have to care, he could have dismissed it, thought "Too bad, this is not my problem". But David stood up for something that in one sense didn't have anything to do with him: he wasn't in the army, Goliath wasn't taunting him, wasn't his responsibility. He could have gone back home and live an average ordinary life, but when you fight giants for someone else, when you stand up for those that can't stand, you're not just helping them — that cause is going to launch you into your destiny.
David took his slingshot, slung that rock, defeated Goliath. Eventually he took the throne of Israel. What's interesting is the crown was in the cause. Without the cause he would have never become king. Like David your crown is going to be found in a cause: your promotion, your breakthrough, your dream coming to pass is going to be found in being a blessing. Are you fighting for anyone other than yourself? Are you taking risk, stepping out in faith, helping them to rise higher? When you're cause-driven you'll see giants come down, you'll see promotion, doors open, the right people show up.
Thousands of other soldiers saw Goliath day after day, but David was the only one that had a cause. He didn't have the size, the training, the experience, but he believed God would show out, he expected to defeat Goliath, he expected to stand victoriously. When you have a cause you'll believe for big things, you'll pray bold prayers, you'll expect giants to come down.
When the Compaq Center, this place became available, I thought "God, this is not just about us, this is about advancing your kingdom. This facility will set a new standard. It will be an example of your greatness. I had a boldness to fight for something way bigger than me". Three years earlier I was running camera, I was working in production, but when you have a cause you believe you can accomplish what seems impossible, that you can overcome what looks insurmountable. Find your cause, fight for someone that can't fight for themselves, get involved in something bigger than you — that's where your crown is, that's where your greatness is going to come out.
David could have been satisfied in the shepherds fields, satisfied with an ordinary life, "I don't want to get out of my comfort zone, people may criticize me. There may be big giants, I'll just play it safe", but safe is not your destiny. Average is not what you're called to be. Take on some giants, believe to advance the kingdom, to set new standards. God didn't give you that talent, that personality, that courage just to go to work, make a living, feed your family. You were called for a cause, you are gifted for a cause, you are healthy for a cause, you are influential for a cause, you are anointed for a cause. Don't just build your kingdom — build his kingdom. Get involved in making a difference.
Where are some giants that you can bring down? Where are some people you can lift up? There's nothing worse than to come to the end of life and realize you never saw your crown, you never took your throne, it wasn't in the average, it wasn't in the routine, it was in the cause. It was doing something out of the ordinary, getting involved in something that wasn't about you, making your neighborhood better, blessing that co-worker, bringing down a Goliath — then you'll see your crown. I've made up my mind: I'm not going to live comfort-driven, I'm going to live cause-driven. When we're comfort-driven we don't have to stretch, make sacrifices, take any risk. When I'm comfort-driven I'm not going to be criticized, talked about, have opposition. The problem is you'll never reach your destiny if you live comfort-driven.
As long as David was in the shepherds fields, minding his own business, satisfied he was average, he was ordinary. Had he not been willing to run that errand, to take lunch to his brothers, he wouldn't have taken the throne. Don't miss the small things. Had he let his brother discourage him, make him upset, bitter, he would have missed his destiny. If he'd have thought "Goliath is too big. I'd love to help, but man, this giant, he's twice my size", he wouldn't have become the king.
The cause has to be bigger than the giant. The cause has to be bigger than the opposition, bigger than how you feel. You may be outnumbered, what you're up against is stronger, more experienced — don't worry, you and God are a majority, they cannot stand against our God.
Like with David there are giants waiting for you. When you defeat them for others, doors to your destiny will open. When you find your cause the king is going to come out. When your dream is connected to helping others, to making your community better, to lifting those that are down, you thought you were just helping them, you didn't realize you were helping yourself. And so many of you hear and watching, you support the ministry, you attend, you give, you volunteer, you serve in the community — a lot of times it's on your day off. You could be doing something for yourself, but you're investing in others.
God sees your sacrifice. He sees you helping when nobody's giving you the credit, getting up early to pick up that friend, cooking an extra meal for that neighbor, spending your vacation serving at that orphanage — get ready your crown is coming. You've been fighting for others, now God is about to fight for you. The king is going to come out of the cause. You're going to see doors open that you never dreamed would open, favor, influence, opportunity — all because you fought for someone else. You got involved in something bigger than yourself.
A friend of mine grew up in a small town in Kentucky. They were poor, didn't have too much, but from the time he was a little boy he had a desire to help children in need. He saw on television how you could support a hungry child in another country for fifteen dollars a month. He didn't have any money, but at eight years old he started mowing lawns in the neighborhood so he could help. He needed the funds, but he was living cause driven, fighting for someone else. When he could have been out playing he was mowing lawns, making sacrifices for someone he would never meet.
And that seems like a nice thing to, do compassionate person, but it's more than that. When you tap into your cause, there's a crown that's connected. By the grace of God he was able to attend college, and in the summers he would take trips overseas with doctors to help care for these children like he supported. He ended up going to medical school, became very successful in his practice, all the while doing what he could to take care of children. One of his medical suppliers heard about how he supported children, asked if he needed anything. They started giving him all kinds of medicines, vaccines, antibiotics, it grew and grew to where he had to get a warehouse to contain it all.
Today our friend Dr. Todd Price and his wife Sue right here on the front row, have given over a billion dollars in medical supplies to children around the world. His organization has treated over 60 million children for parasites. He told me from the time he was a little boy he always prayed that God would send a wealthy person to help those children in need. He said "I never dreamed I would become that person". The scripture says, "When you help the poor, when you lift the fallen, when you feed the hungry then your light will break forth like the dawn, your healing, your abundance, your breakthrough will come".
Dr. Price didn't have to help those children. He didn't have to make sacrifices, didn't have to use his vacation time to travel around the world, stay in little villages. He could have enjoyed a nice average life, but he would have never seen God's favor like he's seen. He would have never been this fulfilled. He discovered the cause was connected to the crown, the cause opened doors to his destiny greater than he ever imagined. I realized: we're not all going to go around the world, not all going to start big organizations, but there's someone you can fight for, there's something you can do that's outside of yourself, that makes your community better, makes your school better, makes your family better. Find your cause and you'll find favor.
This is what Nehemiah did. He was a cup bearer to the king. He wasn't in management, he didn't have wealth or influence, he had an ordinary position. But he heard how the walls of Jerusalem had been torn down and how the city was unprotected. He was living a thousand miles away, he could have thought "That's their problem. Can't do anything about that", but something came alive on the inside. He knew he was supposed to rebuild those walls. How could he do it? He had no money, no staff, no influence. But when you're cause-driven you'll pray bold prayers, you'll believe for the impossible, you'll expect doors to open. I've learned: what God orders he pays for. When it's to advance the kingdom, when it's to bring about positive change — resources will be there, the right people will show up. You don't have to figure it all out, all you have to do is believe.
Nehemiah asked the king for permission to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls. You can imagine asking your boss for six months off to go do a personal project. You would think the king would say "Excuse me, you're my payroll, I need you to be here", but for the some reason the king agreed. He said "Fine, Nehemiah, you can go". If that wasn't enough, Nehemiah said "I need another favor. I'm going to need protection. Will you give me a letter addressed to all the cities I have to travel through so they won't harm me"? The king agreed. He said "One last thing, king, I don't have any materials to rebuild the wall. I need a letter from you asking the lumber mills to give me what I need, and asking the stone quarries to supply the rocks". The scripture says (Nehemiah 2:8), "The king granted Nehemiah all his requests because the favor of God was on his life".
It's good to ask for yourself, but when you're asking for someone else, when you're taking a stand for those that can't stand, when you're kingdom-minded and not just me-minded, God will show out in your life. What's holding some people back is they're only focused on their goals, their dreams, their projects. Why don't you invest some of your time, energy, resources in someone else? Fight their giants, help their dreams come to pass, mentor their child, care for them as they come through that illness — that cause is connected to your crown. That's what's going to open new doors to your destiny.
Defeating Goliath, someone else's giant is what took David to the throne. It's good to have your dreams, it's good to have goals, but you need to be a part of something bigger than just you. David would have stayed in the shepherd's field if he didn't find his cause. Nehemiah would have lived an ordinary life had he not found his cause.
When he went to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls he had all kinds of opposition. The city wouldn't give him permits, the critics tried to stop him, bandits came and fought him — it was one thing after another. But when you're cause driven you don't go by how you feel, you're not moved by the opposition — you're on a mission, you have an assignment. The cause helps you to stay focused, persistent, determined. It's not about you, it's about the cause. It should have taken Nehemiah years to finish rebuilding it, but he did it in just 52 days.
I believe there are Nehemiahs in here today, there are Davids watching: you could live an ordinary average life, but you're fighting for others, you're investing in things bigger than yourself, making sacrifices to help those around you. You can't help others without God helping you. That cause doesn't come by itself, it's connected to a crown. You're going to see favor that you've never seen. You're going to come out of the ordinary into the uncommon, unusual, resources your family has never seen, influence and opportunity like you've never imagined. The greatness God put in you is going to come out of the cause. It's not about finding your crown, it's about finding your cause. Where is a giant that you can defeat? Where is a lunch that you can take to your brothers? Where is a wall that you can rebuild? If you'll find the cause, the crown will come.
What's interesting is the walls of Jerusalem had been down for over six decades. God could have had a king rebuild them, a governor, the army, the prophets, but God chose a cup bearer, an ordinary person. The cause brought the greatness out of Nehemiah. Without this cause we wouldn't be talking about it. Without a cause David wouldn't have become the greatest king that ever lived. I'm asking you: find a cause. Live for something bigger than yourself. The greatness will come out when you help others, when you build their dreams, when you support advancing the kingdom. "Well, Joel, I didn't come out here today to hear about helping others. I want to hear about how I can be blessed"? This is how you'll be blessed. This is how your greatness will come out. This is how you'll discover your crown. Is there not a cause?
Sometimes the cause is to improve yourself, so that your family and those that come after you will be better off. My father was raised very poor, his family lost everything during the great depression. He grew up with a poverty mindset, never able to drink a full glass of milk, just a small portion then they'd pour water in it. But at 17 years old he gave his life to Christ, the first one in his family. He felt a calling to become a minister. His parents tried to discourage him. They told him all he knew how to do was work on the farm, if he left he wasn't going to make it. The cause has to be louder than the naysayers. What God puts in your heart has to be stronger than the negative chatter.
My father made up his mind at 17 that his children would never be raised in the poverty that he was raised in. He had no money, no transportation, no experience, but he left the farm with a cause. He went out and started ministering. He knew very little about the Bible, he'd only been to church several times. He called Job — job. He preached his first message on Samson, at the end he realized he'd been calling him tarzan. He didn't have much training, but he had a cause: "I'm going to honor God with my life, I'm going to break this stronghold of poverty, I'm going to set a new standard for my family". He didn't have a ride, he had to hitchhike. He didn't have a church, he preached in the prisons, in the seniors homes. He didn't have a big organization supporting him, his first offering he ever received was an apple. There were plenty of times he was tempted to get discouraged, feel like it would never work out, but he would ask himself "Is there not a cause"?
When you live cause driven your focus is not on how you feel, not on what people are saying, not on what's not working out. Your focus is on the cause. I'm not just fighting for me, I'm fighting for my children, I'm fighting to take our family to a new level. He kept going when no doors were opening. He stayed in faith when people were against him. He kept being his best when it was taken longer than he thought. Cause-driven, not feeling-driven, not circumstance-driven. As he kept doing the right thing faithful year after year, he came into his crown. He saw favor like no one in his family had seen. He broke the spirit of poverty. God opened big doors, started Lakewood, pastored here for nearly 40 years, made a great difference with his life.
How did he step out of the ordinary into the uncommon? He had a cause bigger than himself. He didn't just think about him, he thought about his family, thought about how he could be a blessing. He invested his life in something bigger than himself. Being cause-driven is what's going to help you stay determined and stay focused,
When Jesus was about to be crucified he didn't feel like going through with it. He was in such distress, so discouraged that he swept drops of blood. We think he won the victory on Calvary, but really the victory was won in the Garden of Gethsemane, that's where he made the decision to stick with it. He prayed three times (Matthew 26:39) "Father if it's possible, let this cup pass from me". All of his emotions said "Give up". His feelings said "Don't go through with it". His mind said "It's not worth it". If he had not lived cause-driven, we wouldn't have salvation. In the darkest time he made a decision "This is not about me, this is about helping others. This is about fulfilling my purpose". The scripture says the angels came and strengthened him.
In those difficult times when you're trying to break the addiction, trying to keep your marriage together, trying to take your family to a new level you'll be tempted to think "It's too hard. It's been this way too long. The pressure's too much", you're in the Garden of Gethsemane. You have to do like Jesus: make the decision that the cause is worth it. The scripture (Hebrew 12:2) says, "He endured the pain of the cross, looking forward to the joy that was coming". Because he was focused on the cause he was able to endure the pain of the moment.
When it's the most difficult the good news is that means you're close to your crown, you're close to your breakthrough. And you've come too far to stop now. God didn't bring you here to leave you, dig down deep, stay determined, stay focused, keep doing the right thing — it's not just for you, you're doing it for your family, you're doing it to advance the kingdom.
If you'll keep fighting for someone else, like with Jesus, the angels are going to show up to strengthen you. God sees you giving, helping others, being good to people, taking on their giants. You didn't have to, nobody would have faulted you, but like Nehemiah you answered the cause, you stepped up to make a difference, now get ready — the king in you is about to step out, your crown is about to show up. I believe and declare: you're coming out of ordinary into uncommon. God is about to favor you in a new way. Promotion, influence, divine connections, dreams coming to pass, addictions being broken, strongholds coming down, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it can you say amen today?