Joel Osteen - Staying Positive Toward Yourself
I want to talk to you today about Staying Positive Toward Yourself. The most important relationship you have is the relationship with yourself. Too many people don't like who they are: they focus on their faults and weaknesses, they relive their mistakes and failures. They wish they were different, if they were taller, had a better personality, look like their cousin, instead of accepting themselves as a masterpiece, made in the image of God, they're critical toward themselves. They wonder why they're not happy? And why they don't have good relationships? It's because they don't like themselves. If you don't get along with you, you're not going to get along with other people.
Jesus said (Mark 12:31), "Love your neighbor as you love yourself". You can't love others if you don't first love yourself. The best thing you can do for your family, for your friends is be good to you, be kind to you, be merciful to you, be forgiving to you, be loving to you. You're good to others, why aren't you good to you? You don't criticize your friend, why are you criticizing you? You compliment your co-worker, when's the last time you complimented yourself? You admire their talent, why don't you admire your talent? Start being good to you - that's not being selfish, that's not arrogant, that's loving yourself.
But too many people go through life feeling wrong on the inside, with this nagging feeling. I heard someone say, "I've discovered the enemy. It was me". Are you your enemy? Are you defeating yourself, limiting your dream, sabotaging your relationships, all because you don't like you? You have enough people and circumstances against you, don't be against yourself. When you wake up in the morning, don't lie in bed and think of everything wrong with you, what you don't like about your looks, relive your mistakes, "Man, I should have finished college. I should have been more disciplined. I lost my temper yesterday". Instead of focusing on what's wrong with you start focusing on what's right with you. You may have weaknesses, you've made mistakes - we all have - but there's a lot more right with you than there is wrong.
Dwelling on the negative doesn't help you to do better. Beating yourself up for past mistakes doesn't move you forward. The better you feel about yourself the better you'll do. The more you like yourself the further you'll go. You can't give away what you don't have. If you're in turmoil on the inside, mad at yourself, critical, condemned, that's what you have to give. If you're hard on yourself, you'll be hard on others. If you don't forgive yourself, you won't forgive others. If you don't get along with you, how can you get along with your family? The best thing you can do is start being for you. When you love yourself then you can love others. When you're kind to yourself then you can be kind to others - it all starts with you.
"Well, Joel I have these faults, these weaknesses, once I overcome, once I learn to control my temper, be more disciplined, quit saying things that I shouldn't, then I won't be down on myself". But if you're waiting to perform perfectly before you feel good about who you are, you'll be waiting your whole life. You have to accept yourself while you're in the process of changing. God knew you would have weaknesses, he made you. You're not a surprise to him, he's not in heaven scratching his head thinking, "I didn't see this coming. They're a mess. What am I going to do"? He knew there would be things you struggle with.
You're not supposed to beat yourself up because you haven't arrived yet. I don't know one person that has arrived. There will always be some area we need to improve. In fact I believe God will leave weaknesses on purpose so we'll have to depend on him. He's changing you from glory to glory - learn to enjoy the glory that you're in right now. You may not be where you want to be, but you're not where you used to be. Instead of looking at how far you have to go, you need to look back and thank God for how far he's already brought you. It takes a mature person to say, "I'm okay with where I am, while I'm on the way to where God is taking me".
One time someone asked me what was the one thing I would change about myself if I could? And I don't mean this to sound arrogant, but I couldn't think of anything. And yes, there are plenty of areas I need to change, I need to grow, I need to improve - my point is: my weaknesses are not on the forefront of my mind, I'm not focused on my shortcomings, reliving my failures, thinking about how I don't measure up, down on myself for past mistakes. I know I'm forgiven, I'm redeemed, I'm a masterpiece, made in the image of Almighty God. Life is too short to go through it against yourself. I say this with humility, but I like myself, I like my looks, I like my gifts, like my personality, like my sense of humor, like my taste, like my physique, I like who God made me to be.
It's very powerful when you can say you like yourself. Not, "I like myself after I lose 20 pounds, after I learn to keep my mouth closed, after I become more patient", God accepts and approves you where you are. Fault in all, mistakes and shortcomings not when you overcome, but right now. He knows you're on a journey, he's changing you little by little. He accepts you, now you have to accept yourself. He approves you, you have to approve yourself.
When our son Jonathan was 14 years old we were out playing basketball one day. We had played one-on-one, him against me for many years. I could always beat him, but he kept getting better and getting bigger. This game for the first time he beat me. I played hard, I did my best, but he won. I gave him a high five, then told him he was grounded, but during that game he got around me and went up for a shot. I timed it perfectly, I came from behind, jumped with all of my strength and I blocked it, I mean I swatted it over into the bushes. I felt like Lebron James, this would have been a top 10 on sportscenter.
A few days later we were in the gym playing with some guys, and Jonathan said, "Dad, tell everyone what happened last week". I said, "Oh, yeah Jonathan went up for a shot, I timed it perfectly and blocked it"... He said, "No, dad, tell them about how I beat you". The funny thing is: that defeat wasn't on the front of my mind, that failure wasn't taking up the most space. My victory, my accomplishment, my success was what stood out. It's all in how we train ourselves. Some people are focused on their losses, their flaws, their mistakes, the times they didn't measure up - that's why they're negative toward themselves, the wrong images are always playing. You need to focus on your victories, focus on the times you succeeded, you resisted the temptation, you were disciplined, you felt like telling that person off but you bit your tongue, you went the extra mile at work, you excelled on that presentation.
Don't let the negative take up the most space - relive your victories, dwell on what's right about you and not what's wrong about you. You can't become who you were created to be when you're negative towards yourself. Yes, there are forces trying to stop us, but I wonder if you are your enemy? Circumstances may be against you, people will come against you, you can overcome those things. The problem is if you are against you. If you're negative towards yourself, that will keep you from your destiny. God has given us different gifts, different personalities, different temperaments. Sometimes we're fighting who we are trying to be like someone else. You have to accept who God has made you to be. And sure there are areas we can improve in, areas where we can grow, but there are certain things that are who we are.
I'm naturally more quiet and reserved, my personality is laid back and easy going, I don't lose my temper, I don't get upset often, my mother has told people she's never seen me angry a day of her life, that's all natural to me. When my father went to be with the Lord I knew I was supposed to step up and pastor the church, but I didn't feel qualified. I had never ministered, I didn't have the training. I could get past those things what I struggled with was my father had a strong personality, he was dynamic and forceful. I would see other ministers that were loud and excite the audience, and I thought "I'm not like that. I don't have those strengths. I can't minister like my father".
When we compare and think we have to be like someone else, we can feel shortchanged, like we're at a disadvantage, "I'm not as talented as they are". Here's the key: God has given you what you need to fulfill your destiny. If you needed a different personality, he would have given it to you. If you needed different gifts, different strengths, different looks, different parents, it would have happened. Quit comparing and run your race.
I was tempted to feel inferior, not strong enough - I had to tune all that out and use what God had given me. I discovered my gifts fit me. My personality, my talent, my strengths, my temperament is right for my assignment. I didn't have to be loud, dynamic, forceful - that worked for my father, that's who he was, but God makes us individuals. You have to be comfortable in your own skin, comfortable in who God made you to be. Don't covet what someone else has - if you had their gifts their personality, their looks, it wouldn't help you, it would hinder you. You are equipped for your race. You have the right personality, the right gifts, the right looks, you're the right height, you come from the right family, you weren't shortchanged, you're not a disadvantage, you've been fearfully and wonderfully made.
Walk in your anointing. Be confident with your gifts. Let your personality shine. There's not another person in this world like you. The enemy would love for you to go through life trying to be an imitation, copying someone else that you think is more attractive, more gifted, more successful. No, be you. Nobody can do you like you can do you. You're anointed to be you, and not someone else. The anointing on your life, the favor, the blessing is to be you. You won't activate the favor, you won't see the abundance if you're trying to be something that you're not, feeling wrong on the inside because you're not like someone else.
I stepped up to minister, I wasn't like my father, I was more calm a little more laid back. What I thought was a weakness was actually a strength. People started watching and attending in record numbers. Half the people that watch say they've never been to church, never listened to a minister on television. I wonder if you're fighting what makes you unique? Are you frustrated over what you think is a weakness, when in fact it's a strength? Quit wishing you were different and step in to who God made you to be. He didn't accidentally give you the wrong personality, make you too quiet, too outgoing, the wrong gifts. He matched you for your world. You have exactly what you need to fulfill your destiny.
I have a friend that has a very strong personality. He's very kind, very talented, but he's type a, straight to the point, aggressive, get it done. One day he and his wife were having a disagreement, they were debating something. She finally said, "Why can't you be more like Joel"? He said, "Excuse me, I think I'm supposed to be like Jesus". She said, "That's fine, but why don't you start with Joel"?
We can always grow and improve, but you can't fight who God made you to be. Don't go your whole life wishing you were something different, wishing you had a better personality, wishing you were more talented, wishing you were like your neighbor, when in fact you're exactly who you're supposed to be. What you don't realize is half the time your neighbor is wishing they could be you. They see all the good things about you, do you? What would happen if you would start loving yourself, accepting your gifts, not beating yourself up for mistakes, not down on yourself because of your weaknesses. Stay positive towards yourself.
Most of us wouldn't criticize other people, you wouldn't go up to your neighbor today, your friend sitting next to and say "Wow, you sure don't look good. Those clothes don't do anything for you". You may think it, but you wouldn't say it. Why are you criticizing yourself? When you criticize you, you are criticizing God's creation. You might as well look up and say, "God, you didn't do a very good job on me". He didn't make mistakes. Don't say another negative thing about yourself. "I'm so undisciplined, I'm so clumsy, I can't do anything right, I don't have a good personality, I'll never lose the weight, never break this addiction" - zip it up. Quit being against yourself. You don't need another enemy. Be as good to yourself as you are to others. Be kind to yourself, be merciful to yourself, be loving to yourself.
We think, "Because it's not us, it's okay, it's not hurting anyone else", it's not okay - it's hurting you. When you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, instead of saying, "Oh, man, I'm getting so old. Look at all these wrinkles, it's all downhill from here", try a different approach, "Good morning you good looking thing. I am made in the image of God, I'm a masterpiece, I have royal blood flowing through my veins". Stay positive towards yourself.
A friend of mine pastors a church in another state. For years every Sunday he would call me after service and tell me how good my message was. He's very encouraging, he would go on and on, "It was so effective here, and this part is going to help so many people", one compliment after another. Several years later he came with me to this interview I was doing, it was a national program, live for an hour, a big deal. I was young and nervous, and hadn't done much of that before. When I finished, we got in the car and the first thing I said was, "I did really good, I knew exactly what to say, I don't think I could have done any better".
He told me later how that conversation changed his life. When he saw how positive I was toward myself, he realized what his problem was. He had never once told himself that he had done good. After his service he'd always drive home discouraged, thinking about how he could have done it better, he wasn't focused enough, how he could have explained it more clearly. In years of pastoring he never left the church feeling good, he always thought about what he didn't do right. When he heard me come out and say "I did good", a stronghold was broken in his mind. He was great at complimenting others, but he had never complimented himself. He trained himself to see the flaws, the stumbles, the times where he didn't do his best.
The scripture says (Philemon 1:6), "Our faith is made effective when we acknowledge everything good". You can't go around acknowledging the negative, your weaknesses, the times you didn't measure up, how you should have been more disciplined - your faith is not going to be effective. You need to retrain your mind to see the good, focus on what you did right, you didn't get everything done at the office, but you got something done. You haven't totally broken the addiction, but you're better than you were last year. You didn't spend all the time you wanted to with your children, but you did get them to school, you got them dressed, you cooked their dinner. If you're acknowledging the negative, you're not going to feel good about yourself. Start acknowledging all the good things that you're doing - that's what's going to help you to do better. Being down on yourself not only keeps you from enjoying life, but it keeps you from rising higher.
When I walk off of this platform, every time under my voice I say, "Lord, thank you for helping me to do great today". I realize I don't do great every time, but in my mind I do great. I walked off the other day and saw my children back there by the globe, the first thing I said was "I nailed it". They started laughing. I don't mean this to be arrogant, but I celebrate myself, I complement myself, I acknowledge what God has enabled me to do. I recognize - it's his favor, his anointing, his blessing on my life. I have plenty of areas to improve in. I know people that can do this better, that's okay, I'm not running their race, I feel good about me. You have enough enemies in life, don't be against yourself. You should be your biggest fan. Nobody should think better of you than you.
Sometimes we're taught, "Oh, no no, don't think good of yourself. Man, you got to be humble, be holy, be lowly". No, you have to recognize: the Creator of the universe breathed his life into you, he's entrusted you with gifts, talents, abilities, he's crowned you with favor. Don't go through life thinking little of yourself, focused on your weaknesses, dwelling on your failures. Start acknowledging the good, step into that potential, show off that talent. Don't be your enemy, be your asset. When you acknowledge the good, when you say, "Lord, thank you for helping me to shine. Thank you for my gifts. Thank you for taking me where I've never dreamed", your faith is made effective, you're going to see new doors open, new opportunities.
You may be good at complimenting others, you need to get good at complimenting yourself. You don't have to do it out loud, but under your breath you need to say "That was good". Got to work on time today - that was good. Did excellent on that presentation - that was good. I worked out, I exercised - that was good. Helped my neighbor last night - that was good. Why don't you start giving yourself the credit you give others? You told that friend they look good, have you told yourself that you look good? You complimented your co-worker, have you complimented yourself?
"Well, Joel I would feel good about myself if I hadn't made these mistakes, if I had been more disciplined" - the mistake didn't change your purpose. Don't let failures and times you got off course cause you to be against yourself. Be as merciful to you as you are to others. You have to learn to forgive yourself. The accuser will bring guilt, condemnation, "You don't deserve it". He'd love for you to not feel worthy, down on yourself - don't fall into that trap.
Paul said in Colossians 1:22, "God sees you as holy, blameless, and without fault". "Not me, Joel, I have a lot of faults, I've made a lot of mistakes" - we all have, but when you ask God to forgive you he cleared your record, he sees you without fault. That's all good, but the real question is: can you see yourself without fault? As long as you're beating yourself up, living condemned, the problem is: you are your enemy. God has already said: you're blameless, you're without fault. Get in agreement with him. Nothing you've done has stopped your destiny.
Jesus knew that Peter would deny him yet he still chose him as one of his disciples. Why didn't he just pick someone else? He knew he was going to fail, he knew he was hot tempered, he knew he used bad language, but God doesn't disqualify you because you have weaknesses. If he did, none of us would have a chance. When Jesus rose from the dead, he told Mary at the tomb to go tell the disciples he was alive, and he specifically said "Tell Peter". Peter could have lived defeated, condemned, "What was wrong with me", but he made this choice that we all have to make - he forgave himself, he had mercy on himself. He didn't live looking in the rearview mirror, thinking about how he had blown it. Peter went on to give the inaugural address when the church was birthed, 3000 people came to know the Lord.
All through the scripture God used people that made mistakes: Abraham had a baby out of wedlock, David took a man's wife and had the man killed, Jonah ran from God, wouldn't go to the city of Nineveh. What did God do? Rescue him and send him to the city of Nineveh. God doesn't disqualify us. The mistake we make is we disqualify ourselves. When Moses was on mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments he left his brother Aaron in charge of the Israelites. He was gone so long, the people said "We need a God to worship". Aaron knew that they worshiped Jehovah, he spoke for Moses when he told Pharaoh to let the people go, he'd seen God deliver them from slavery, part the Red Sea, but he told the people to bring their gold, he melted it down and they made a golden staff. The people started partying, all kinds of revelry.
When Moses came down the mountain he saw Aaron and all the people dancing naked, worshiping that idol. Here he's up having this holy moment, and in a few days the people have already fallen away. You would think God would be done with Aaron. "If you can't leave my people for a couple of weeks, if you're gonna compromise, give in to temptation, then good riddance" - God doesn't write us off. He chose Aaron to be the first high priest. I can hear God saying to an angel, "You see that guy down there that's dancing naked? The one that made the golden calf? He's going to be the one I choose to go into the holy of holies, the most sacred place of the temple".
Don't judge your life based off of one mistake, off of one season where you gave into temptation, one season where you compromise - that didn't stop your destiny. The only way it will hold you back is if you live guilty, condemned, feeling washed up. God has forgiven you, but you have to forgive yourself. He's given you his mercy, but you have to have mercy on yourself. "Joel, you don't know what I did". You probably weren't dancing naked in public last week, you probably weren't worshiping a golden calf, why are you writing yourself off? You don't know where God has taken you. Who would have thought Aaron would become the high priest in a position of honor and influence? God still has something awesome in your future.
Here's the question: are you for you? Are you kind to yourself? Are you merciful to yourself? I know you love God, but do you love yourself? I know you'll forgive others, but will you forgive yourself? I know you'll compliment your friends, but will you compliment yourself? How much further will you go, if you'll stay positive towards yourself? Quit beating yourself up for past mistakes. Quit dwelling on your flaws, overanalyzing your weaknesses - you're not a finished product, God is still working on you. I believe and declare: today is a breakthrough day. Strongholds are coming down, guilt is leaving, poor self-images are going. You are holy, you are blameless, you are without fault. Now, get ready you're about to rise higher, overcome those obstacles, accomplish your dreams and become who God created you to be, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.