Joel Osteen - Discover Your Greatness
I want to talk to you today about Discover Your Greatness. Saul was the leader of Israel. 40 days a giant named Goliath came out in the morning and the evening to talk the Israelites. His size and strength coupled with his intimidating threats paralyzed the Israeli army. That is until a teenager named David showed up to bring lunch to his brothers. When he heard the insults from Goliath, saw the soldiers running in fear, something rose up on the inside. He said "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God"? He went out to face Goliath, not wearing any armor, still dressed as a shepherd from taking care of his father's sheep. Not with a sword or a spear, but with the slingshot that he had used to keep lions and bear from his sheep. He picked up five smooth stones and ran toward the giant.
Saul and his men were watching this drama play out intently, certain that David was about to be crushed. But David slung a rock with such skill and such force, it hit Goliath in the forehead, knocked him unconscious. Saul stood there in disbelief. He couldn't understand it. How did David learn to fight like a warrior? Where did he learn to speak so powerfully, that he had both camps: the Israelis and the Philistines spellbound? Where did he get this confidence, this leadership? Who trained him? He went over to David, and didn't say "Congratulations! That was awesome! Thanks for stepping up"! He said (1 Samuel 17:58) "David, tell me about your father". He was saying "Where do you come from? How could you do this? You must have an incredible father". David said, "His name is Jesse, we live in the city of Bethlehem".
I can imagine Saul telling an assistant, "Find out about Jesse. I want to know everything". The research comes back: "He's a shepherd. He comes from an ordinary family. Lives in a typical house, shops at Walmart, eats chick-fil-a, watches the Kardashians, there's nothing significant about him". Saul was perplexed: how could this teenager have such greatness in him? How could he rise up and become a hero, when he comes from an average family? The reason Saul was confused was David didn't give him the whole answer. He told him about Jesse, who his natural father was, but he didn't tell him about his Heavenly Father. Your greatness, your courage, the hero in you, it doesn't come from your natural father. The scripture says (James 1:17), "Every good gift comes from your father in heaven above".
Now Jesse was a good father. He did his best to care for David, care for the family, he had David take his brother's lunch, he wanted to make sure they were okay. But like any of us, Jesse had shortcomings, he had limitations, he didn't speak faith into David, he didn't encourage him to go after his dreams. When the prophet Samuel showed up at his house to choose the next king of Israel, Jesse didn't break bring David in from the shepherds fields, he didn't think David was king material. He thought "David's too young, too small, he's not that talented, he'll never do anything great". He discounted David. The good news is: people don't determine your destiny. Your gifts, your talents, your potential, the king in you - it comes from your Heavenly Father.
That's why Saul was confused. He saw greatness in David. He knew there was a king in him, a world changer. He thought "Am I missing something? Isn't this Jesse's son? Doesn't he come from an average family? They've never done anything significant". Here's the key you come through your father, but you come from Almighty God. He knew you before you were formed in your mother's womb. You may have had a father like Jesse that couldn't see your potential, that didn't encourage you to dream big, pursue what God put in your heart. Feels like you're limited, like David you were left out in the field. No, God knows how to bring you in. He knows how to cause the gifts he put in you to come out, how to make you shine. Your time is coming. You're going to go further than people thought. You're going to accomplish dreams bigger than they imagined. There will be people like Saul in disbelief, thinking "How could you defeat that giant? How could you start that business? How could you get the Compaq Center? How could you lead that company in sales"? What you're going to accomplish is not going to match where you've come from.
Now you may have a great family, people that have excelled, done big things, but what God has for you is greater. He wants every generation to increase. I'm proud to be the son of John Osteen, he was an awesome father, but I realized I'm not just John's son, I'm a son of the Most High God. We celebrate our fathers, we honor them, but I'm saying: don't stop there. Recognize that the gifts, the courage, the creativity, the greatness, it comes from your Heavenly Father. Now, don't discount yourself, don't come up with excuses to settle, "I've gone as far as anyone in my family. I didn't have anyone to help me. Joel, my father wasn't around" - your Heavenly Father was there the whole time. He's been watching over you even before you were born. What he started he's going to finish. There are gifts and talents in you he's about to bring out. You're going to step into a new boldness, confidence, see favor and increase that your family has never seen.
My father's parents, my grandparents, were very good people. They were loving and kind, but they didn't have much vision. They lost everything during the great depression, they were very poor, struggled to make ends meet. My father went to school with holes in his shoes, holes in his pants, had to drop out of high school to work on the farm. Looked like he was limited, that that was his destiny, to just survive. It's all he had seen growing up. But at 17 years old he was walking home from a nightclub at two o'clock in the morning. He looked up at the stars and began to think about God, what he was going to do with his life. He wasn't raised with any kind of faith, never been to church, but that night he felt a sense of purpose, he knew he was made for more.
The next morning he went to church with a friend and gave his life to Christ. Something came alive on the inside, he felt God calling him to become a pastor. Nobody in his family had any kind of training in ministry, there was no background of pastors and leadership, they were farmers. He told his parents he was going to leave the farm and go out and start ministering. They said "John, you better stay here with us. All you know how to do is work on the farm. You're going to get out there and fail". They met well, they were trying to protect him, but like Jesse they couldn't see his potential, they couldn't see his greatness. They thought "We're poor, all we know how to do is farm. That's our son, we raised him, it's all he knows how to do". They didn't realize greatness doesn't come from people, it comes from God. And yes, our natural fathers, our family, they influence us, they teach us what they know, but your gifts, talents, courage, favor - it comes from your Heavenly Father. You're not limited by what people didn't give you.
My father had to hitchhike, but he left home and started ministering in the prisons, senior citizens homes. Doors started opening, he was able to go back and finish high school, he went to seminary, pastored great churches, started Lakewood, pastored here for almost 40 years. Along the way I can hear someone asking "Whose son is that? He sure is talented, he's such a gifted speaker, a great leader impacting so many people". When they found out who his parents were, they thought "How could that be? That doesn't make sense". It's because they were only looking at it in the natural. Every good gift comes from your Heavenly Father. What he's destined for your life is not limited by what kind of natural father you had. Jesse couldn't see the greatness in David. My grandfather couldn't see the greatness in my father. But just because they didn't see it, that doesn't stop it from coming to pass.
I hope you had a great father like I did: a loving, kind, empowering father, a father that pushed you further and helped you to be confident and secure. But even if you didn't, you're still going to do great things, you're still going to leave your Mark. Maybe your father was like Jesse, he didn't believe in you, or he wasn't around, he talked down to you. When you think of your father it's not a fun memory, it's a source of pain and disappointment. Perhaps he was like my father's dad, he meant well, but he told my father what he couldn't accomplish, how he was going to fail. What I want you to see is that is not going to stop your destiny, your Heavenly Father overrides what people do. Your greatness doesn't come from your natural bloodline, from your lineage, it comes from your father in heaven. What he has spoken over your life will come to pass.
Tell me about your father. "Well, he was so busy he didn't have time for me. He discouraged me, he was loving and kind, but man he had some rough edges"... I don't mean that father, tell me about your Heavenly Father. He spoke worlds into existence. He flung stars into space. He fearfully and wonderfully made you. He said "You're a masterpiece". He's equipped you, empowered you, anointed you. He put seeds of greatness in you. He calls you a history maker, a giant killer, a world changer. Whether your natural father was great or not so great, whether you have fun memories or not so fun memories, when you recognize who your Heavenly Father is, that he's the giver of all good gifts... That means, if your father was loving, kind, talented, generous, that all came from our Heavenly Father. Maybe it was the opposite: then despite what your natural bloodline has, despite the dysfunction, the limitation you'll be the exception, you'll defeat giants, you'll accomplish dreams, you'll become all you were created to be.
In my grandparents defense they had no history of leadership, they didn't know how to train my father to become a pastor, they had never experienced abundance, more than enough, influence. No wonder they couldn't see it, it was foreign to them. Don't fault people that can't see what you can see. God will put things in your spirit that your parents, your relatives, people around you can't fathom, it's too big, too great, too influential. They can't comprehend it, they've never seen it. You're going to set a new standard, you're going to accomplish dreams bigger than they've imagined. You're going to see influence, honor, wealth, that your family has never experienced. There's no history of it. When you look back it's all at one level. "I don't see how that can happen", you're looking back at your natural lineage, I'm asking you to not look back, but to look up - your Heavenly Father has some big gifts coming, big favor, big opportunities, creativity, ideas, resources that will exceed your expectations. He's about to catapult you into greatness, into abundance, into new levels of your destiny.
There are times that for generations everything is the same, going along fine, no complaints, then suddenly like with David greatness comes out. There's no explanations. How could David defeat that giant? Jesse couldn't train him for that, he couldn't train him to become a king, that wasn't in Jesse. He'd never experienced any of that. It was his Heavenly Father shining down favor.
When Jesus was on the earth he went around healing the sick, curing the lepers, teaching with such authority and wisdom that great crowds followed him. When people looked at his background, where he came from, they couldn't understand it. They asked (Matthew 13:55) "Is this not the carpenter's son"? They were saying, "Isn't this Joseph's child? We know Joseph, he builds cabinets, he's not anything special, how could his son be doing miracles? How could his son be this influential? Where did he get the wisdom to teach in the synagogues"? Like Saul they were looking at his natural father, they were looking at his background, his training, where he lived, they didn't realize who his Heavenly Father was.
Sometimes life will try to tell you that you're average, you've reached your limits, gone as far as you can. "Look at your family, nothing special about you, you can't do anything great. You're just Bill's son, you're just Casey's son". That may be true, but you have to realize you have another father. No discredit to your natural father, but your Heavenly Father is the giver of all good gifts. I believe God is going to show out in your life in such a way that people will look at you and think "Is this not Jesse's son? How can David defeat that giant, his father's a shepherd"? "Is this not jack Osteen's son? How can John be pastor in a church of thousands, they're farmers"? "Is this not William's son? How can he be leading his company, William struggled with an addiction"? "Is this not Jose's son? How can he be that successful? Jose was never around growing up"?
Your destiny is not limited by how you were raised, it's not limited by what level your parents reach - God wants you to go further. Now get in agreement with him, quit seeing yourself as average, limited, "We all struggle with these addictions, this depression. We never get any good breaks. It's just who we are". That is not who you are. Your spiritual bloodline overrides your natural bloodline. If you're going to see the greatness that belongs to you, the favor, the influence, the talent, you have to look to your Heavenly Father. That's what David did, that's where he got the courage, the strength, the favor - he wasn't looking at his history, his family line, what his father had accomplished. If he'd stayed focused on that, he would have never left the shepherds field, he would have lived intimidated, limited, we wouldn't be talking about him. David understood this principle. He said to Goliath "You come against me with a sword and a shield, but I come against you in the name of the Lord God of Israel". He was saying, "You may be big, you may be powerful, but I know who my Heavenly Father is. I know what he's put in me".
In the scripture God promised Abraham that he was going to be the father of many nations. He was 80 years old and had never had a child. His wife sarah had gone through the change of life, there was no way in the natural they could have a baby. But God told Abraham to do something interesting - to go out at night outside his tent and look up into the sky, and the number of stars he could see - that's how many descendants he was going to have. Looked impossible to have children, look like it was too late. God could have given them this promise at 35 years old. He could have spoken to them at a more reasonable time, when it was common to have a child. But often God waits 'till the odds are against us, 'till we don't see how it can happen so when he brings it to pass everyone will know it was his favor.
But the time we're waiting that's a test of our faith. Are we going to get discouraged, talk ourselves out of it? "It's never going to happen, Joel, it's been too long. This giant is too big". I can imagine those thoughts coming to Abraham - that's when God said "Abraham, get outside your tent and look up". God was saying, "Abraham you're looking at it in the natural. As long as you're in your tent, all you can see is you and sarah. You're focused on what you can accomplish. You have to get outside your tent and look up. Bring me into the picture, recognize I'm your source. No, you can't birth* this child on your own efforts, you are too old, but I'm your Heavenly Father, I can make things happen that you can't make happen. Get your eyes off your impossibilities and keep your eyes on me".
When we're in our tent all we can see is our limitations: how we were raised, what we can't do. In our tent is our father, our grandparents, our family line. You have to get out of your tent and look up. Have a bigger vision. You're not doing life on your own. Yes you have natural parents, relatives, but your Heavenly Father controls the universe, he makes ways where you don't see ways. He's not limited by how you were raised, by your background, by what seems impossible. If you'll get out of your tent, get a new perspective, start believing that you're favored, declaring good things are coming, then you'll see your Heavenly Father turn impossible situations around, take you further than you've ever imagined.
Seemed like as a teenager David was stuck in the shepherd's fields. God had put big things in his heart, deep down he knew he was destined to leave his Mark, but year after year taking care of sheep. I can imagine he started to get discouraged, "It's never going to happen". God said, "David, get out of your tent. Get a new perspective". I can see him in the fields at night, looking up at the stars, he feels this new sense of destiny. He can hear his Heavenly Father whispering, "The greatness I've put in you is about to come out. Keep believing, keep dreaming, keep being your best".
When my father was coming home from that nightclub two in the morning, for some reason he looked up at the stars. He felt limited, no future to speak of, but that night as he looked up, something began to happen, faith began to rise up, hope that he had never felt, a dream to do something significant with his life. What happened? He got out of his tent. He knew he had come through his parents, but that night he started to realize who he had come from, that his Heavenly Father was calling him. That he wasn't just the son of jack Osteen, but he was the son of the Most High God.
You may feel limited like you've gone as far as you can, deep down you know there are bigger things in you. Every circumstance says "You're stuck", God is saying, "Come out of your tent, look up". You're focused on the natural, you have to change your perspective. You're not limited by your background, you're not at the mercy of who raised you, what you didn't get, what looks impossible - your Heavenly Father is about to breathe on your life in a new way. New doors are about to open, new gifts are about to come out, the greatness God put in you is about to show up.
There was a young boy back in the early 1900s that was raised by a single mother in the Hills of Tennessee. Because his mother was not married, the neighbor wouldn't allow him to play with their children, was very looked down on back then. They would make remarks like "What's he doing in our town? And who is his father anyway"? On Saturdays he would go up to to the local store with his mother, people would make disparaging comments, loud enough for him to hear it, things like "There they are again, did you ever figure out who his father is"? This little boy grew up insecure, always feeling like there was something wrong with him. At 12 years old a new pastor moved into town, he was a young minister, very gifted and passionate. This young boy had never been to church. One Sunday he decided to go hear this minister that everyone was talking about. He arrived late and sat in the back so no one would see him. As he listened that day he felt a love and acceptance that he had never felt. He'd plan to leave early, but he is so engrossed in what the minister was saying, it was over before he knew it, he got caught in the crowd.
As he was leaving, the young minister was greeting the congregation at the door. He saw the young man, he noticed that he wasn't with anyone. He didn't know anything about him, he said very innocently, very friendly, "Young man, whose child are you"? The room grew couldn't completely silent. That was the question everyone wanted to ask. The boy didn't know what to say. He put his head down. The minister realized something was wrong, how the little boy was very uncomfortable, he looked at him and said "Oh, I know who your father is! I can see the resemblance so strongly - you're a child of Almighty God". That day was a turning point in the young boy's life. The stronghold of insecurity and shame was broken. 30 years later that young boy was elected governor of Tennessee. If you ask him, Ben Hooper would have told you: the day he really got elected was the day that minister told him who his father was.
Tell me about your father. I don't mean your natural father, they may not have been, there they may have made mistakes, they may not have believed in you - tell me about your Heavenly Father. Do you realize who you belong to? That your gifts, your talents, your greatness doesn't come from people, from family, from relatives - it comes from your Heavenly Father. When he breathed life into you, he put his DNA on the inside. That's how David could do something no one in his family had done. That's how my father could break out of poverty and limited thinking, and make a difference with his life. Our natural DNA gets passed down, but your spiritual DNA will override the natural.
I saw a documentary on these championship racehorses, the kind you see at the Kentucky Derby. It's not a coincidence that these horses are the fastest horses in the world, they've been carefully studied and carefully bred for generations. It can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to breed a racehorse with a champion stallion, it's very expensive. Before breeding, the owner will go back 50, even 60 years and study the bloodline of a particular stallion. They'll research who his father is, his grandfather, study how long their stride was, the length of their legs, their takeoff speed, their endurance. With all this information they'll choose the stallion they believe to be the perfect match. They understand: winners don't just randomly happen, it's in their DNA. That's how it is with you and me - because of who your Heavenly Father is you can defeat giants, you can accomplish great dreams, you can break addictions, you can set new standards.
I'm not looking at ordinary people, you have the DNA of a champion. There's no limit to what you can accomplish, I know who your father is. There's no obstacle you can't overcome, I've seen your father do it. There's no struggle that can hold you back, your father is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord your provider. Now do your part, come out of your tent, get a new perspective - you're not limited by how you were raised, you're not at a disadvantage because of what you didn't get, who went before you. You're hearing this because you're about to see the greatness in you come out. People are going to wonder: is this the carpenter's son? Is this Jesse's son? Is this jack Osteen's son? Get ready you're about to defy the odds. I believe and declare: God is about to do something unusual, uncommon. Favor, that will catapult you ahead, gifts and talents coming out that you didn't know you had. Courage, confidence, creativity like you've never seen. Healing is coming, promotion, good breaks, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.