TD Jakes - Living Bigger Than Me
This is the seed of unselfishness that is planted in him from the earliest of his existence. Parents, hear me well. If you don't plant quality, don't plan to reap quality in adults. If you don't plant the seeds of unselfishness, if you don't plant the seeds of courage, if you don't plant the seeds in them where they learn not to be selfish, and they learn to share, and they learn that everything is not about them, and it's not about what you want, and it's not about you liking Chuck E. Cheese. We're goin' this place today. We'll go to that place another.
I know that sounds like little bitty thing, but it's the root work of creating a certain type of person that they don't think that the whole world evolves around their wishes. The reason we have so many divorces today is because you think the whole world evolves around your wishes. And if you don't find somebody who evolves around your wishes, you're ready to get out because you're not willing to live beyond yourself. Come on and talk to me, somebody. Type in the comments, "I want to live bigger than me". I didn't come here to live and die just to pay the mortgage on a house I'm gonna leave. I didn't come here just to pay the rent for somebody who's a homeowner. And I made by payments and my credit is good. That's great. And I lived here and then I died. That was it? That's all you're gonna do is live for some clothes in your closet and some red on the bottom of your shoes? You could get some paint and paint red on the bottom of your shoe. You're living all in your life for stuff you're gonna leave. What are you doing that is beyond you?
Take a minute and think about it. I don't want to bring your joy down. I don't wanna make you feel bad, but what would people lose if they lost you? How are you affecting the life of somebody other than you and yours? When God gives you gifts, do you think he gave you the gift for you? If God gave you a voice to sing, do you think he gave you the voice for you to sing in the shower? Whatever God gave you, he gave it to you to affect somebody beyond yourself. You have to realize this. And Nehemiah, in his introduction to us, is already learning to live his life beyond himself. The king already understood the king's father had been poisoned. Nehemiah had faced death every day. It was clear to him. He understood quite clearly what was going on in his life. And while he has decided to stay behind, and not go back to Israel, and not go back to Jerusalem, he has not lost his compassion for Jerusalem.
Now, watch this. In the previous chapter, somebody has come to him on his job and said, "Have you heard about back home"? Everybody that went back home, they're back home, but things are not cool. They're back home, and they're living there and they're doing the best they can, but the whole place is in ruins. The houses have collapsed. The economy is poor. The people are struggling. And the walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins. The gates have been burned with fire and everything has been destroyed.
Now, the person who told him, told him and walked away, but Nehemiah could not get out of his head that he was supposed to do somethin' about that. Isn't it amazing how both of us can be exposed to the same information. It bothers one person and it doesn't bother another person at all. It's almost like somebody living in a messy room. Some people are happy in a messy room. It doesn't bother them to be in a messy room, but it drives you crazy to be in a messy room. See, the things that drive you crazy are the things you have the power to change. If you've been lookin' for your purpose, look at your passions. Not just what you like, but what you don't like. What you can't stand to see is a clue, not that they shouldn't do something, but that you should do something.
Now, Nehemiah has nothing to do with him. He's set for life. He works for the king. He didn't work for the cobbler, making shoes. He doesn't work for the carpenter. He doesn't work for the coppersmith. This boy working for the king. And he goes on a fast and stops eating because he is worried about something bigger than him. I don't care whether you're 30 years old, 40 years old, 50 years old, 60 years old, 10 years old. Until you have been worried about something bigger than you, you have not lived yet. Until your prayer life has gone beyond you and your four and no more, you are not an intercessor. You're not a prayer warrior if all you care about is you. Until you have gone to bed troubled about something that you didn't see how in the world you are going to face, but it bothered you, you're not living. You're just existing.
Nehemiah is troubled where other people are comfortable. You want to know what makes people great? It's when you are troubled by what makes other people comfortable. I never will forget one day I came in and we had a staff meeting, and it was not a good one. It was not a good one. I very seldom fly off the handle, but it was really not a good one. And I remember one of the things I said to them, I said, "I'm angry, and I'm angry because you're not". Because if you had been angry, I wouldn't have to be angry. The only reason I have to be angry is because you saw it and you remained indifferent about something that I think is extremely important.
What moves you? What do you value? What will you fight for? What will you put yourself at risk for? If you can't answer that, you have not lived. John Lewis answered that. Dr. King answered that. Mahatma Gandhi answered that. Mandela answered that. All of our heroes are heroes because they were living for something bigger than themselves. Everybody worth talkin' about, every name you ever wanna mention that really shook the world, or shook the neighborhood, or shook the community, or even shook their child, did it because they were living for something bigger than themselves.
Nehemiah was troubled, and he was upset, and he was disturbed in his spirit. And now it has gotten to the point that when he comes before the king, he has fasted so and become so sad that the king says, "You're not sick, but why do you look so sad"? What troubles you to the point that it's noticeable? What troubles you, disturbs you? Does it matter to you? Does it matter to you? Does it matter that people are dying? Does it matter that people are suffering? I know these seem like simple questions, but today we have to ask these questions 'cause we're living in a society today that doesn't seem to care even that hundreds of thousands of people are dead. You can no longer assume human compassion.
We are living in the last days and the Bible said that the love of many will wax cold. One of the reasons that we have such coldness is because we're living in the last days. That coldness, the loss of natural affections is a sign of the end time. The fact that people could see somebody shot down in the street and keep on eating their lunch, the fact that you can have a seizure in the city and people walk past you 'cause they gotta get to work is a sign that something is wrong with our society. What has happened to us that we are not moved with other people's pain and their problems? Nehemiah was touched by the feeling of their infirmity. Not only was he touched by it, because we're often touched by a lot of things, but we don't always do something about the things we've been touched by.
Nehemiah was touched to the point of action. Don't tell me you care if you can't back it up with what you do. Oh, don't have love for me if I don't get it. Don't be concerned about mean and you didn't call me. I want to be able to see a correlation between what you care about and what you are doing, or you're just living for yourself. I want to see you go out of your way for somebody other than you. I want to see you sacrifice for something where you don't get a reward for it. You just think it's important and you're willing to sow into it. I want you to care enough about something that you put something on the line to say, "I'm a bigger person. I'm bigger than that. I'm too big to live this small. I'm too big to live in a cage of comfort and never do anything with my life that shakes the world. I'm living for something that's bigger than me".
And he goes before the king, and the king notices that his countenance is fallen. And the Bible said he was afraid, and he had a right to be afraid because history says that this particular king had killed his brother to get the position. He didn't take any foolishness. The king asked him, "Why do you look sad? This can be nothing but sadness of heart". And he says, "I was very much afraid. I was scared". You don't run up on the king just any kind of way. Good God, all of a sudden, I realized that Nehemiah isn't working for the king alone. He's not working for the wine alone. He has been positioned for purpose.
Write this down 'cause this is for somebody. Somebody I'm preaching to, you think you're there for the job. You think you're in that city, and that country, and that place for just to be there, but God has positioned you for purpose. That's why you don't move every time somebody says something to get on your nerves, 'cause sometimes God didn't put you there for the wine. He put you there for the influence. Can't you suffer anything? God had put him at a place that he was kin to the Jews, but he worked for the Persians, which made him bilingual enough that he knew how to talk to the king and he knew how to talk to his own people.
In my book, what I talk about you understanding your crowd, you can have the same message, but you change the language depending upon the audience. And your world will be no bigger than your ability to adapt your language to your audience. Nehemiah knew how to talk to the king. He starts a conversation off with the king, "O King, live forever". He wanted to know, "I'm on your side, King. By the way, my people are in trouble". He knew how to approach him. He had been positioned for purpose.
And I don't know who I'm preaching to this morning, but the Lord sent me here to tell you you've been positioned for purpose. Stop complaining about the temperature. Your desk is too small. They don't recognize you. They didn't print your name. God put you there for a purpose. When the time is right, when the time is right, God's going to use you to influence, and to make a change, and to make a difference. You could get paid anywhere. God didn't send you there to get paid. He sent you there to make changes. He sent you there to make a difference. He sent you there to learn another language, another protocol, another methodology, another culture, an ability so that he can use you in an ambidextrous sort of way so that you wouldn't be so limited.
Some of you need to come out of your cocoon. You've been in your safety zone so long that you're about to asphyxiate. God wants to put you into a place that scares ya, at a place where you're careful what you say, at a place you have to study to be ready for so that you can evolve. If you ever get exposed to greatness and go back home to weakness, you won't even feel at home anymore. It will change you when you hear what they're talkin' about, when you hear that conversation. You used to think it's funny, now you think it's irrelevant because God has put you, positioned you for purpose.
He planted Nehemiah there. God knew that he was gonna need a man on the inside and he planted him right there. And when the time was right, he troubled him. And when he troubled him bad enough, he went in to see the king. And he said, "King, how can I be happy when the land of my ancestors is suffering"? "The land of my ancestors," he had to say, because he had never really been there. In order for him to be young enough to do what he did, he had to be born in captivity, as they were in captivity for 70 years. But he still had respect for where he came from. I could spend all night on that. I'm scared to even touch any of that right there. He had respect for where he came from. He wasn't neutralized by his faith so that he saw everybody in a uniform sort of way. He understood where he came from and he was there without denying his heritage.
Don't let nobody give you their Jesus at the expense of losing your heritage. It's the difference between me teaching Christ and teaching culture. You don't have to give up your culture to accept Christ. You can be your culture. You can wear your hair. You can put on your clothes like you are. You can eat what you want to eat and still be a Christian. And when people start teaching you their culture instead of their Christianity, they have a hidden agenda. Do you hear what I'm saying to you?
And there he is in this situation and he knows he has to do something. And the king asked him, he says, "If I have found favor in thy sight, O King, I need you to allow me to go back and to change my people". And God had given him favor with the King of Persia. Good God Almighty. Next point, God's about to give you favor. God's about to give you favor with somebody that you don't even have a right to have favor with, not connected to. Do you not know sometimes God'll give you more favor with people you're not related to (oh, y'all ain't gonna talk to me), than the people you are related to.
God will use somebody to bless you that is unexpected. And the people you thought would help you when you got in trouble won't help you at all, and somebody way out here from left field will come in with your blessing. Somebody's got your blessing. Oh my God, type that on the line. Somebody's got your blessing. Just because you don't have the money to do the job, and just because you don't have the wood to build a building, and just because you don't have the resources, and just because you don't have the degree to do what you're tryin' to do, God will use somebody to underwrite your blessing. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.
Nehemiah didn't give up and say, "I can't do nothing about it. I don't have the money". Nehemiah himself didn't have the money, but God will fund your vision with his provision. Oh God, I'm preaching way better than you're shouting. If the vision be of God, why would God give you the vision and then not give you the provision? God gave Nehemiah the vision and then he gave him access to the provision. And the king asked him, and this sounds like it's not a hard question to answer, but I have had this question asked to me before and it is a difficult question for certain personality types to be able to answer. The king asked him a question and said, "What do you want"?
Sometimes the hardest question to answer when you've been a self-reliant person all your life and you've never been taught to lean on anybody, it's difficult to open your mouth to really say, especially when what you want is expensive. It's one thing I want a stick of chewing gum. It's another thing if I need a half a million dollars. The king asked him, "What do you", but look at who asked him. The king asked him, "What do you want"? The king is used to talking big talk. You can't be no king and not used to talking big talk.
So the big talking king asked him, "What do you want"? And because Nehemiah has been raised in an environment that he never had to pay for, because that's what favor is. Favor enables you to enjoy that which you didn't have to labor for. Favor brings you to a table that you didn't have to buy. Favor feeds you food that you didn't have to get at the grocery store. Favor opens up a door and brings you before people you could have never met on your own. Favor gives you this unearned, undeserved access to a realm of influence. He couldn't have got no appointment with the king. He's havin' a big conversation with a big king, and he's got to have a big faith to respond to this question.
And the question for you this Sunday morning is: what do you want? What's it gonna take to bring a smile back on your face? What's it gonna take for you to live your life with purpose? What do you want? Do you know what you want or are you just complaining? The king was used to solving problems, so he says, "What is it that you want"? And the first thing Nehemiah did was pray. He didn't even answer him without praying. I know he said, "Oh God, I don't want to mess this up. Let me get this right". And then he starts answering the king and he starts to tell him, he said, "I answered the king, 'If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.'"
So he's asking for some time off. And then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked him, "How long will your journey take and when will you get back"? And it pleased the king to send him, so I said a time. So while the door was open, since you gonna give me the time off, by the way, I was wondering if you could give me a letter for the governors of Trans-Euphrates so that they will provide me safe conduct. And by way, can I have a few soldiers to go with me on the journey? And you know, when I get back home, I'm going to need some wood, so I need you to underwrite my vision. Oh, y'all ain't shouting.
If y'all believe this word, this word oughta be a sign to you that somebody's got the wood you need. Somebody's got the security that you need. Somebody's got the help that you need. Somebody's got everything. Made me think of that song, "If you want it, God's got it. He's got to everything you need". I don't know who I'm talking to, but God sent me to stir your faith this morning. He's got everything that you need. Nehemiah knew that the graciousness that was extended to him by the king came from God. God's going to use other people to bless you, but he's not gonna use other people to bless you when your vision is only you. God is not gonna give you the king's ransom when all you want is about you. God underwrote the budget because Nehemiah was living bigger than me.