John Hagee - The Pursuit of Excellence
We all possess the potential for greatness. We are all the divine creations of an all-mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing God. He is a God of excellence and he made you. And there is, within every one of you listening to me today, the divine spark of excellence waiting to explode into its full, brilliant potential. What is excellence? Webster describes it and defines it as first class. He comes back and uses the old English word found in the text that excellence is virtue. There's an appalling lack of excellence in the body of Christ. Why? Because we're willing to satisfy for mediocre, just good enough, because we're willing to live beneath the standard of divine heritage.
The story has been told of an American Indian who found an eagle's egg and put it in the nest of a prairie chicken. And the eaglet hatched with a brood of prairie chickens and grew up with them. All of his life, the eagle, thinking he was a prairie chicken, did what the other prairie chickens did. He scratched in the dirt for seeds and worms. And he dared not to fly. It was only for just a few feet when he did fly, because that's what the other chickens were doing. He emulated their life. Years passed, and one day, the earth-bound eagle looked into the heavens and he saw a magnificent bird flying far above him effortlessly in a cloudless sky with absolute majesty on the powerful wind currents. He looked to the other, prairie chickens, and said, "What is that"? And one of them said, "That's the mighty eagle, but don't ever think that you can ever fly like the chief of birds, because you are just an ordinary prairie chicken".
So the deceived, earth-bound eagle never gave it another thought. And he died, thinking all the time, while having all of that potential, he was just a prairie chicken. That's a waste, but not near the waste of the lives that are standing in front of me, because God designed every one of you to soar into the heavens with greatness. He has made you his own creation, and he has made it possible for you to live a life of excellence and accomplishment. You have been created a little lower than the angels. The royal blood of heaven is flowing in your veins. Angels go before you and angels are behind you. And there is no reason that you, as a human being, with all of that supernatural potential within you, and that's what we mean when we say, "Greater is he that's within us than he that's within the world". And "Nothing is impossible to those that believe," because there is a divine spark within you that if you will release it, will launch you into a level of living life without limit.
God wants you to have an exciting, rich, full, accomplishing life if you'll quit scratching around in the dirt, pecking for bugs because other people do it, and say as Isaiah, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they shall mount on wings of eagles". They shall do amazing things, arise and do exploits. They're not going to be just another prairie chicken. You can live life without limit, because God lives in you. And God has all power in heaven and in earth. Give him praise and glory. Read the text please, 2 Peter 1:5: "Beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue: and to virtue knowledge: and to knowledge temperance: and to temperance patience: and to patience Godliness: and to Godliness, brotherly kindness: and brotherly kindness charity, which is love". There are nine sermons right there. I'm only going to preach one of them. Aren't you glad? The word "Virtue" means excellence.
Now read verse 5 again: "And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith excellence". "Add to your faith," that means grow. That means stretch. That means go beyond the present level of where you are. I ask you this question: if a man can do better, shouldn't he? God says, "Add to your faith". There's more to serving the Lord Jesus Christ than getting saved and being one step in front of the devil. There's living a life saturated with excellence, and knowledge, and temperance, and patience, and Godliness, and brotherly kindness, the love of God. What's the difference between those last two? This is just a beside and it's not in the notes. I just wanted you to hear it. Brotherly kindness is loving somebody who loves you. And any dumbbell can do that. But the love of God, the brotherly kindness charity, is loving those that don't like you. That takes God in you. We're talking today about excellence, and do you have it?
Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus, let us reach for the first thing God told for us to reach for after we are saved, and that is excellence: that we might bring honor to the name of our father in heaven. In Jesus' name, we pray and ask it. And all of God's children said, amen.
You may be seated. It is God's will for you to achieve excellence. Say that with me. It is God's will for you to achieve excellence. Psalm 16:3 says, "But to the saints who are in the earth", that's you, "To the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight". Philippians 1:10 says that you, my believers, "Might approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense until the day of Christ". 2 Peter 1:5: add to your faith excellence. That's the first thing God puts on the menu after you get saved is start living your life with excellence. Excellence in your life is a basic form of Christian witnessing.
Paul said in Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do everything to the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ". Do it with excellence, everything you do. I have no apologies ever to anyone for the efforts we go through for the cause of excellence, because it's the first thing Christ demands after salvation. What is it God has given you to do? Be a home minister? Then do it with excellence or don't do it. To be an usher? To be in the greeting corps? To serve on the parking team? To be on the security team? What is it that you do here? Then do it with excellence or stop doing it! Do it with all of your heart as unto the Lord. Are you an attorney? Are you a salesman? Are you a housewife? Or are you a plumber? Are you a stockbroker? Are you a schoolteacher? Then do it with excellence or you're not going to be employed very long.
Don't wish for your job to be easier. If it was easier, everybody would do it. I'm amused and amazed at kids, who are going to college these days, getting degrees in things like underwater bubble blowing. When you get out, what can you do with it? Nothing! There's no demand for that. Ask God to kill within you that prairie-chicken attitude, that lets you be content with the mediocre, and lets the divine spark of excellence within you explode. Fly! Fly on the wings of faith into the destiny that God has for you, higher and higher! Quit scratching in the dirt for worms and for bugs. You need to be what God wants you to be!
When you stand before God in the judgment, you're going to answer for the gap that exists between where you are and where you could have been had you done what God wanted you to do. Think about that, where you are and where you could have been had you simply done what God asked you to do. Excellence is living up to your highest potential. Say that with me. Excellence is living up to your highest potential. A wife was talking to her husband, elmer, and said, "Elmer, why don't you play golf with Ted anymore"? And the husband said, "Well, would you play golf with a fellow who kicked his ball with a foot when he was behind a tree and the other guy wasn't watching"? The wife said, "Well, no, I would not". He said, "Well, neither will Ted".
Maybe you're not reaching your goal because you're not motivated. Psalm 37:23 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord". Every day, should have an exact plan. If you get up like a goose in a new world every day, you are not living according to God's plan. This is a tip from the president of U.S. Steel, who paid $25,000 for this idea that I'm going to give you absolutely free. He brought an efficiency expert into U.S. Steel, and said, "I want you to examine everything we're doing and tell us what we can do to make this a better steel company". And after paying him $25,000, which at that point in time was a lot of money, he said, "As you as the administrator of U.S. Steel, every night when you lay down, list the top ten things that have to be done the next day: number one, being the most important and the most unpleasant. Take care of it first thing out, and then do it. Plan your work and then work your plan".
I want you to hear this. Killing time is suicide. Every one of us wake up on this earth every day with just so much time. You cannot store it. You cannot keep it. You have to use it. And you must use it wisely for the Lord. Listen to this. If you live to be 70 years of age, more than half of your life is already wasted. If you sleep eight hours a night, you spend 23 years and four months in bed. If you eat one hour for lunch and 30 minutes for breakfast and supper, and many of you just, 30 minutes just warms you up for supper. You spend five years and ten months eating. If it takes you ten minutes to shave and brush your teeth, you spent six months in a 70-year time brushing your teeth. If you take 30 minutes to get dressed, and that's a light load, I can tell you that. One year and six months you spend getting dressed. If it takes you 30 minutes to go to work, you spend a year and six months going to work.
If you watch television four hours a day, you spend 11 years and seven months watching television. So out of a 70-year life, you've spent 43 years and four months eating, sleeping, dressing, driving to work, watching the television, and you haven't done one thing to amount to anything yet. That's why when you get to the end of the world, "What have I done"? Not a whole lot if you didn't plan your day. Is this scriptural? The Bible says, "Redeem the time". Say that with me. "Redeem the time". Make every minute count. You'll never recapture the minute. You're exchanging your life for it. When you kill time, there's no resurrection for it: it's gone.
King David said in Psalm 90:12, "Lord, teach us to number our days". Say that with me. "Lord, teach us to number our days," not just so that we know that we're Marching toward the end of time, but that every day has an orderly process that accomplishes something. Why don't we achieve excellence? Because we have a limited vision of what God can do through us. If God could use a stick in the hand of Moses and lead two million people to freedom, if God could use a rooster to preach to Peter, if God could use a donkey to preach to Balaam, he can use me and he can use you. It should never be in amazement what God can use. It just has to be the availability of who you are.
You need to get a new vision of God's power and who you are! You are God's child. He wants the very best for you. He looks from the balconies of heaven at every one of you and says, "I love you. I made you. I don't make junk and I don't sponsor flops". I want you to fly on the wings of faith into the very destiny that God has for you. Quit scratching around for bugs! Quit looking for the menial way to survive. I want you to prosper! I want you to have health! I want you to enjoy life! I want you to stop seeing things, not as they are, but how they can be when I turn you loose with supernatural anointed power! Fly into the destiny of God! Give him praise and glory!
Me of you are controlled by prairie chickens in your house and in your family. You can't do that. Cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck. You can't fly that high. That's too exciting for poor old prairie chickens like us. We just have to be humble and dig for worms. It's God's will for us to dig for bugs. This is what we've been doing for generations. Why try? You should give up right now. Let me tell you something. You either take charge of your life or somebody else will take charge of it for you. And you and God, and you and God alone, can determine what your absolute destiny is.
If you want to spend the rest of your life scratching for bugs and cackling and clucking in the dust, that's fine. You need to look at whomever it is in your life that's trying to hold you down to what they want you to be so that any kind of accomplishment certainly makes them feel insignificant and say, "I'm going to saturate this place with my absence, and fly on the wings of faith, and be all that I can be through the authority of Jesus Christ". Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Catch a vision of what Jesus Christ wants you to be. Start saying, as God's word says, "All things are possible to them that believe".
God is greater than the mountains you're facing. He's greater than the trials you're facing. He's greater than the fears that are in your heart. He's greater than the disease that you're facing. He's greater than the reversals that you're facing. He's greater than the giants. He's greater than the Red Sea. He's greater than the fiery furnace. Give up your prairie-chicken attitude and say, "I can, therefore, I am, in Jesus' name," and do it. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God!
Excellence is not restricted to sex, to age, to race, or occupation. You need to get angry with your half-baked mediocre approach to life, and take yourself out behind the barn and give yourself a swift kick in your posterior. Get out of the rut, because a rut is nothing but a grave with both ends kicked out of it. Decide to live in the abundance of God. Decide to live in God's love. Decide to live in a power dimension. Decide to live life without limit. Live with enthusiasm. Live with vigor. Live with direction. Live with accomplishment. Live with all the things of excellence that God intended for you to have. Yes, there'll be people who come along and say, "You shouldn't be doing that".
You know how I know that. You're looking at a prairie chicken. All your prairie chicken friends will not be glad when you start doing unusual things. There are only two kinds of people humanity will not tolerate: those who fail, because when you fail, they say, "The sorry, lazy, slovenly slob just wouldn't get up and do anything". When you succeed, they say, "He was a crook. He broke the rules somehow. He didn't get where he was, somehow, he did something that's wrong".
If you think the world is going to approve of you when you do something unusual, you need to go home and take some smelling salts today, because that's just not so. Don't let some old prairie chicken come up to you and say, "Oh, praise the Lord. Aren't these bugs good"? They may be good for you, sweetheart. Stay with them. But I'm not into the bug business. What is your dream? And if you don't have one, it's because you're not plugged into the Holy Spirit. Because God said that he would give you a dream of what God wants to do in you and through you.
Whatever it is, however impossible it seems, whatever the obstacle that lies between you and your goal, if it is noble, if it is consistent with the Word of God, if it benefits the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, lock your jaws onto it and go for it. Do not stop. Do not let some grace killer kill you in your pursuit of the dream that God has given you. Do not quit! Make it happen! Why? Because you are a child of God and excellence is your destiny. You can stand in the winner's circle, and nothing is impossible with God or you, because you're God's! Give him praise and glory!
What honor? What glory does it bring God, your father, for his kids to scratch around in trash cans and rags with trembly lips of self-inflicted poverty, a sick religious kind of humility, saying, "We're scratching for bugs for the glory of God". No! God has engineered you to fly. He's engineered you to be something greater than you ever dreamed possible unto him who is able to preserve us, and who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that can think or ask. And when you begin to think in your mind what would be possible, what could I do with my life if failure were not possible, what could I do if heaven really had it's absolute way in my life: it'll make you turn off the television set and start wondering what God can really do. He has engineered you to fly. The genius of heaven is within you trying to escape. Let it happen and enjoy it when it happens, because you're God's child, and you deserve the very best God can give you! Give him praise and glory!
We fail to achieve excellence because of the fear of failure. Every great success story has its element of failure. Success has a thousand fathers. Failure is always an orphan. Thomas Edison finished his 700th experiment on the electric lightbulb. And his assistant said, "We have failed. We don't have the answer". Thomas Edison said, "No, we have not failed. We found 700 ways that won't work. We're just closer to the answer than we've ever been". He said, "Call it an education, but we're closer to the answer". If Thomas Edison hadn't discovered the lightbulb, we'd be watching the television in the dark.
Are you afraid of failure? You'll never stub your toe standing still. Remember the turtle. He never getting anywhere until he sticks his neck out. Ted Williams, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, hit a record, 400, and it still stands. And it's a wonderful accomplishment. But do you know what it means when you bat 400? It means that you failed to hit the ball six out of ten times. That's what it means. If you fail six out of ten times, you can still be the greatest thing that ever walked on a baseball field. Say it another way. You don't always hit a Grand Slam home run every day you get up. You will not make a million-dollar sale every morning. Every phone call, you will not mesmerize the world. Every person you meet will not like you. But keep batting, keep trying, keep swinging.
You will strike out a few times. You may even get thrown out of a few ball games, but keep swinging because victory is your destiny! You're a child of God! Nothing can beat you until you quit! Where are you looking for answers? Some of you are looking for answers in a bottle. You'll never find an answer in alcoholic beverages. You'll never find it in a chemical prescription from your druggist. The only peace that you're ever going to discover is in Jesus Christ, who is in the Prince of Peace. You're not going to find your answer in drugs. You will not find your answer in sexual fantasies. You will not find it in Eastern religions, chanting about things that you're trying to connect and spirit guides.
Spirit guides are nothing more than demons by another name. You will not find it in the occult. You will not find it in the Ouija board. You will not find it in all of the things that Hollywood is trying to plant into the minds of young Americans that this is where you can find it. You will not find it in power. You will not find it in pleasure. You will not find it in other people. The only place you will ever find the answer is in Jesus Christ. Christ is the answer! Christ is the answer today, tomorrow and forever! "In all of thy ways, acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths".
Believe on him and have everlasting life! We fail to achieve excellence because we have no goals. Tell me your goal, and I'll tell you whether you're scratching around like a prairie chicken or flying with the eagles. If you're going nowhere, any road will take you there. Goals tell you how you're progressing. Can you imagine watching the super bowl game without the goals, without yard markers? Who's winning? We don't know. They're just out there knocking each other around. What are your goals? What are your goals for your marriage? What are you goals for your business? What are you goals for your church? What are you goals for your soul? You need to act upon the vision that God has given you.
The Bible calls it faith. You can go to church and pray about it. You can read how-to books until your eyes grow old with strain. You can attend seminars. You can go to motivational rallies, and it will be totally useless until you act upon it. Moses took action by crossing the Red Sea. David took action by killing the giant. Jesus took action by taking a whip and driving the people out of the temple. Until you take action on your dream, your dream is nothing! There's a difference between illusion and reality. You can only make your dream become reality when you do. There are dreamers and there are doers. Moses dreamed of freedom, but Israel didn't get free until he went there, and said, "Let my people go".
The favorite writing by Theodore Roosevelt, one of my all-time favorites. I read it and quote. Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of good deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man or the woman who is actually in the arena of life, whose face is covered by the dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error. The credit belongs to the man who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs than to rank with those poor, timid souls that neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat".
That's Theodore Roosevelt's poetic description of a prairie-chicken operation. The text says it is God's desire for you to have excellence, "And add to your faith virtue," which is excellence. As long as you're satisfied with the mediocre, as long as you enjoy letting your life be controlled by other people's opinions, and scratching for bugs, as long as you refuse to live life without limit, you'll never have what God wants you to have. But when you start adding to your life, excellence, and saying to God, "I'm willing to be all I can be," God will rip the roof off and let you have the most exciting life you ever dreamed possible.