Steven Furtick - The Pressure To Prove It
So let's look at this in John 7:1, "After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take His life. But when the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brother said to him, 'You ought to leave here.'" You know, you got those people telling you what you ought to do. Okay? "'You ought to leave here and go to Judea. God loves you, and everybody else has a wonderful plan for your life.'" Have you ever heard that? And especially in ministry, okay? There is this pressure of the opinion and the point of view of Jesus' brothers. Tradition suggests He may have had seven siblings, and His brothers in particular said to Him, "'You ought to leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world,' for even His own brothers did not believe in Him. Therefore, Jesus told them, 'The right time for me has not yet come. For you, anytime is right.'"
That's so O.G. how He did that. "You can do anything you want to do because you're just doing what you think people want done. But I'm moving according to purpose, and so I can't just be controlled by what's cultural, because I'm operating according to a certain calling. And so the world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does it evil. You go to the feast. I'm not judging you, I'm not going to start a blog about you. Go to the feast. I'm not yet going to the feast. Yet. I'm not yet going to the feast because for me the right time has not yet come". Having said this, He stayed in Galilee. However, verse 10, "After His brothers had left for the feast, He went also. Not publicly, but in secret".
So I want to talk to you about The Pressure to Prove It. Prove it. It's a tender time for Jesus because in one of His most human moments, He has just exploded with what appears to be rage on His disciples. Have you ever taken it out on those close to you, even if it wasn't their fault? It was one of those moments in John 6 where Jesus had given not only of provision, but given of His presence and Himself, "I am the bread of life". Remember that one? 5,000 men, women, and children. And here's what I studied the Bible to tell you. John 7 comes after John 6. It's a long way from Taiwan for brilliance like that, right? That's why you came. But putting this in context helps us to understand the conflict, the pressure that Jesus was under, because He was gaining popularity, right? It'll do that when you hand out free food. But He was gaining popularity as long as the people were receiving what they needed from Him.
And I love that John 6 passage because in the passage, there's needers and feeders, and there's those in every crowd, needers and feeders. So the disciples tell Jesus, "Send the crowds away. They're hungry". Yeah right. You are. Now, the disciples are speaking with great compassion, but I wonder if they're truly operating with compassion, or is it possible that sometimes in our own ministry we project what we really need onto others to the point that the feeders become needers. Here's what I mean by that. It's very difficult to do ministry well when you need validation from the very people that God is calling you to validate. And this passage got my attention because, like always, the devil comes to Jesus in a moment of deficit. That's when you're susceptible. When you are at a deficit of rest, when you are at a deficit of connection, when you are at a deficit of encouragement.
And the Lord said today was going to be a shift for some of you to begin to minister out of fullness because you've been giving out of emptiness, and you've been going to the people that you are called to feed to get your fill. And what it's causing in your life is constant confusion about am I enough, and can I do it, and do they like me. So now you're constantly moved, and if one person says one thing it threatens you and destabilizes you, and so now you feel the need to prove it. The pressure to prove it. It's like if I came up here today and needed to give y'all 44 details about Galilee to prove how smart I am with this Bible. You know, it was 55 miles north of Judea. Well, I know all of that. Maybe you don't need to, maybe you do. I don't know. But do I need to prove to you how intelligent I am, or am I trying to connect with you about your life today? That's the question.
Hold on, I'm starting with preaching, but I'm coming to the video team, too. Because everybody in here is trying to prove it to who? And that's the question. Do me a favor. This'll be fun. Look at somebody and say, "I'm good in Galilee". Oh, this is too small. You got to get back out there. You're going to lose followers, you're going to lose fans. Because when Jesus turned around, they really, really liked consuming His ministry, but when He said, "Eat my flesh and drink my blood," that cannibalism stuff, that wasn't good for the campaign numbers, Jesus. Here's what you got to do, since you're a messiah and all, since you're a preacher and all, since you're a creative and all, since you're called and all, you need to go do it big. Go show them what you can really do. Take it 55 miles to Judea, and do it there. But Jesus knew how to stay away from places that would kill Him. Do you? I'm not ready to die yet, this is not my time. This is where I'm supposed to be right now. I'm good in Galilee.
I think that's the thing that God brought somebody to receive at Inside Elevation this year. I'm good in Galilee. What I'm saying is I was good when I wasn't good. I liked it. I liked when we traveled in college, and we'd be out there in a backyard Bible club in Lawrence, South Carolina. I was telling my staff this summer, "Y'all don't know anything about the Summer Impact Team, the North Greenville College Summer Impact Team on the Joyful Sound bus". I was so proud that Mason Easterling let us use the JBL Eons, because I had to ask special permission, and we had a Mackie board. I was so proud of that eight channel Mackie board. I was so proud of those 57s or 58s, whatever they were. I remember we'd set them up. I was so proud out there singing, "Cast your burdens unto Jesus. He cares for you". I was so happy. "Higher, higher". Come here, Holly. "Higher, higher, higher, higher, higher, higher. Lift Jesus higher. Higher, higher". We were doing it, too. "Higher, higher, higher, higher".
And I was trying to get her to fall in love with me so then I hit, "Lower, lower". And we were happy. We loved it. I loved Lawrence. I had a Rod Parsley Breakthrough Covenant Partner lapel pin. I'll wear it on you Sunday and preach. My S & K Suit. I was good in Galilee. I really liked it. I really am good. Come on, declare it by faith. I'm good where I am. I'm called where I am. I'm full. I'm anointed. I'm on purpose. I got it in Galilee. I got it in Galilee. I got it in Galilee. I don't have to prove it to you. Come on, I'm good in Galilee. I'm good in Galilee. Watch somebody in this room build a church in Montana that touches the whole world. Nah, you can't do that from Galilee. It's Montana, bro. You can't write books that touch the world from Montana. You got to get out of Galilee. Nobody appreciates you around there, I'll tell you what. Nobody really appreciates your talent. You know, that's all ego.
When I need them to feed me, when the leader becomes a needer, not a feeder. He was vulnerable because many left Him. Many left Him. And you'll never be more susceptible than the temptation to prove when you're in a period of rejection, either if it's a real rejection or perceived rejection. And let's be honest, some of us see rejection where there is none. Well, what happened with that video? As I told you, I was coming for the video team, right? What happened with that video? They didn't like it. They hated it, they said it was stupid. They thought it was stupid. Nobody liked it. Nobody appreciates my art. It's too edgy. It was edgy, you know? But the actual feedback might have been, "Hey, that's great. Make it a little shorter". The fact is, you knew it was a little too long when you turned it in, so you were insecure when you submitted it.
And a lot of times, this is for everybody in the room, a lot of times the pressure to prove it can cause us to reject what God sends to help us, and to chase after what God never intended us to go for. And we check everything in this church, we check all the stats, all the numbers. There's spreadsheets about spreadsheets, about spreadsheets, about dashboards. There's Instagram accounts about Instagram accounts at Elevation Church. That being said, sometimes I got to stay away from Judea. Some days I delete Instagram off my phone eight times. Do you realize what I just confessed to you? If I deleted it eight times, that means I put it on my phone nine times. That's an addiction. Yeah. The pressure to prove it. Maybe the reason Jesus was able to deal with it in a way that is so remarkable and exemplary for us is because He had already faced it before. Remember this? This earlier. Before His ministry started, if you really are the Son of God... that's a bad strategy, devil, because He's still wet from the Jordan River. He just got out, He just got out of the baptismal waters, He just had the dove lighting over him and say, "This is my Son".
So when you say, "If you are the Son," He's still got the reverberation of, "This is my Son, and whatever you try to get Him to prove next, it won't work". But I noticed, if I don't stay hydrated, I get real thirsty. Now, how can we minister living water if we are thirsty ministers? In other words, if I always need somebody to tell me, "That was great. Thank you so much. Wow, I really... " And you know when you're trying to prove it, when you're like showing all your work, by like those real little lines on Instagram Story where everything is on there, like the real little lines, like you had to show me the walk to the thing, and you had to show me the thing, and the thing, and the thing, and the thing, and the thing.
That's one way. Here's another way when you know you're under pressure to prove it, and I'm laughing because I've done this so many times. “I'm the leader.” Pretty sure you're not if you have to tell us. I'm pretty sure that's something leaking in you. And I'm pretty sure if we don't fix this, we're going to spend the whole rest of our ministry mopping up the floor, and the pipe is busted. So until we deal with this, you understand like, "How can we get a volunteer culture"? If the volunteers are showing up and their leaders are not feeders but needers … "I am the bread of life," Jesus said, "whether you think I am or whether you don't think I am, I am a child of God. I am. And I'm good in Galilee. I got to be good in Galilee because joy is an inside job. And if I live on the approval of others, I will die by the absence of the same. And I will always modulate my ministry according to public opinion and approval".
It's hardest when it comes from your own house. Pharisees are one thing. These are supposed to be your friends. You know what's harder than when it's coming from your own house? When it's coming from your own heart. So like when I'm up here preaching to you, I said earlier I'm up here all alone, that's really not true. There's a lot of people up here preaching with me, and they're preaching to me while I'm preaching to you, and I can't turn their mic off. Like when you show up to do your work, whether that's public or private, there are little people telling you to prove it. Prove it. And the interesting thing is, if it propelled you forward it would be fine. It doesn't. It paralyzes you, when you do it because you have something to prove.
You know, there's a part of me, probably, that is still trying to prove myself to my seminary classmate. His name was Shannon. We did test sermons, and we each got up and did a seven minute sermon. When I got done and sat down, I really thought it was pretty fine. I was preaching on something out of the Beatitudes or something like that. And he goes, "Furtick is a..." I'm like, "What, you're my eighth grade gym coach, P.E. coach calling me by my last name? Guess if my first name was Shannon, I'd go by last names too". You know, I'm petty. I'm petty. I'm petty. I am being saved, I'm being sanctified, it's a process. Let me get back to my notes. So, oh yeah, he said, "Furtick is charismatic and he's got a great personality, but he lacks substance. He would never be much of a Bible teacher".
See, that's what makes me put too much information in a sermon. Shannon doesn't even follow me. And Shannon is up here telling me, "Prove it. Prove you can teach. It's all there with you. Prove it. Prove it. Throw yourself off the building. Prove it. Angels will catch you. Not if God didn't tell me to jump! Turn those stones into bread. Sounds delicious. I haven't eaten in 40 days. When you are hungry, you will be tempted to turn something into something that it's not". Can I preach? When you're hungry, you will try to turn human approval into validation of your value. So now you go around trying to turn stuff into stuff, and it will never work. And then you'll start substituting success for fulfillment. And you'll think like, "Oh, well if we had 100 people... Oh, we have 100? If we had 500 people... Oh, we have 500? If we had 1000 people..."
Does this sound kind of autobiographical? This is me in my 20s. "Oh, if we hit this," and then I see somebody with that, and then I'd get that, but I found out that that wasn't this because this is within, and if I don't fix this, I can get all of that that I want but that won't fix this. That can never fix this. If it won't work in Galilee, if I can't be grateful right now, if I can't rejoice over my salvation, the joy of it, the presence of it. So I told my friend I can't preach this message because people will think, "Well, that's easy for you to say". And my friend said, "That's exactly why you need to say it, just to let them know that you've already got it in Galilee. Tell them I'm not coming to Coachella... now. I'm going when God tells me to go". You know how many people screw up their lives trying to do something they saw somebody else do?
When I was doing squats the other day, Chunks said, "What in the world are you doing"? And we just did legs yesterday, so I'm going to do this illustration approximately. I was going down, it wasn't a lot of weight, honestly y'all I do leg day about once a month, but then I was going down, Chunks said, "What in the world are you doing"? I said, "I'm squatting. Deep squats". He said, "Who told you to do it that deep"? I said, "That's how Buck does it". He said, "Buck is not built like you, and you are not built like Buck". Then he said this, like he was Dr. Seuss, it sounded so good how he said it, he said, "You're going to break your back trying to be Buck. This is real heavy, it's not your load". And every time I get in trouble, it's when I'm trying to prove it. Every time I break my teeth on rocks that I thought I could chew, I'm talking about... You ever tried to eat through the screen? It don't work. Prove it. Prove it.
No, no, no, don't get me wrong. I want to improve it. But I don't have to prove it. Whew! Two different things. One is about it, and one is about you. But when you don't know the difference anymore, the pressure to prove it will keep you from doing it. That's what's so cynical. Like, now you won't just do it because you need to prove it. Oh, and you can tell you're trying to prove it when you become obsessed with position. When did it ever become about position? Remember some of you, when you used to do it when you didn't even get paid to? You remember that? Remember that? When you were like, "Oh yeah, sure, great. I'd be happy to. What do you need? Background vocalist? Mic isn't going to be on even? Okay, fine, I'll sing".
Remember how you loved it? "I thought you were that dude," the Lord was telling me recently, "I thought you were that dude that would drive through the night Saturday after preaching in Pickens, stop by Cracker Barrel, get a John Grisham audiobook on CD to stay awake. I thought you were that dude that would drive to Pickens and pour it out for 40 kids in Pickens. Now you're tired"? Remember when you used to do it not to prove it? You know those times when you're doing it, and I want you to put it in your muscle memory and get it in your fibers right now, you know the times when you're flowing in it, out of approval, not for approval? You know those times? It's amazing, isn't it? You know those times where you lose all track of the periphery, and the process becomes the reward? More of those moments, I pray for us.
I think God wants to give us more of those moments where we become so absorbed that we no longer look around because we like what's right in front of us. And even when we don't like it, I'm good. I'm good in Galilee. Oh, I'm going to the feast, but not to prove it to you. I'm going to grow my church, but not to prove something to a girl who broke up with me in eighth grade. I'm going to do it, but I'm going to go as deep as I can go and keep my base. I already know who I am. I knew it for a long time. I knew it when Pastor Mickey said, "God's hand is on you," in Galilee, by which I mean Moncks Corner, by which I mean where you are right now. It's enough. He let us be here on a Wednesday morning. Look what we're doing and calling it work. Good in Galilee.
I want to get better, I want to improve. If I see somebody doing something better, I'll rip it off. What you got? You got a system? You got a structure? I'll take it. But not so that you'll know who I am, so I'll know. Wouldn't it be horrible for you to get it and lose you? So I just thought today we needed to talk about this pressure, because I think it's never been worse. They have a psychological term called imposter syndrome, fraudulence complex. If you haven't heard about it, you've definitely experienced it, you just didn't know what to call it technically. It means that some of us secretly think, and I think to an extent all of us secretly think that we are playing a role that we're not qualified for, and it's just a matter of time before people find out that you have no clue what you're doing.
You ever feel that way? This is going to be the time. I think it's happening right now. Like everybody's got x-ray vision and all of a sudden you feel like Moses, "Who am I? Who am I"? Be careful. Be careful how you use your stick. Be careful how you use your staff. Be careful how you use your gift. Be careful how you assess your talent. Be careful how you connect yourself to your performance, because when he hit that rock with that stick, he had to die looking at something that he had led the very people to.
So we'll talk about everything this afternoon that you want to talk about. But before we move, I wanted you to have a moment to really believe, not just spiritually, but psychologically that the pressure is off. You know that, right? You know this is not the voice. You know nobody has a chair to turn around and choose you. You know that. You know that the people who don't like you don't have a gold medal to hand you anyway. You know that, right? You know even if you change their mind and get them to stay at your church, they don't tithe anyway. You know that, right? So let's have some fun doing it. You know what I mean? Let's make some diamonds with pressure, rather than dysfunction. Jesus said, "I'm going. I'm going to just do it when God tells me to".
Don't misuse my sermon, by the way, "Pastor, I'm going to turn it in when God tells me to". That's not what I mean. I'm talking about being controlled from an internal sense of identity rather than external changing affirmations. The crowd will always celebrate the wrong crap. Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna. Donkey? Eh, crucify him. You got it. You already got it. You already got a calling. You good. Say it by faith, "I'm good. And it's going to get better, but I'm already good. I'm good. I am so good. I'm not waiting on a future stage of success to feel good about my life. I'm not buying it anymore. And I'm not going to fight the favor of God on my life and become frustrated, grasping after somebody else's gift".