from JO’s sermon tonight:
there is an underlying pressure in our society to be number one. if we’re not the best, the leader, the fastest, the most talented, the most beautiful, the most successful, then we don’t feel good about ourselves; we’ve got to work harder, run faster. a neighbor moves into a new house; instead of being inspired, we’re intimidated, thinking, “that’s making me look bad, I’ve got to keep up.” a coworker gets a promotion; we feel like we’re falling behind. a friend is going to Europe on vacation; we’re going to our grandmother’s four miles down the road. if we’re not careful, there’s always something making us feel like we don’t measure up, we’re not far enough along. as long as you compare your situation to others, you will never feel good about yourself, because there will always be somebody more talented, more beautiful, more successful. you have to realize, you’re not running their race, you’re running your race. you have a specific assignment; God has given you exactly what you need for the race that’s been designed for you. a friend, a coworker, a relative, may seem to have a more significant gift; they can outrun you, outperform you. that’s okay; you’re not competing with them. they have what they need for their assignment; you have what you need for yours. if you make the mistake of trying to keep up with them, wondering, “why can’t I sing like that? why can’t I be the manager? when am I going to reach their level?” if you’re not content with your gift, comfortable with who God made you to be, then you’ll go through life frustrated, envious, thinking, “I wish I had her looks, I wish I had his talent, I wish I owned their business.” no, if you had what they have, it wouldn’t help you, it would hinder you; they have a different assignment.
quit trying to outperform someone, and then you’re going to feel good about yourself. “soon as I move into their neighborhood, soon as my business catches up to theirs, soon as I get that promotion”; no, one of the best things I’ve learned is to be comfortable with who God made me to be. I don’t have to outperform you to feel good about myself; I don’t have to outbuild you, outdrive you, outrace you, out minister you, outproduce you. it’s not about you, it’s about becoming who God made me to be. and I’m all for having goals, stretching, believing big, that’s important, but you have to accept the gifts that God has given you. you shouldn’t feel less than if someone seems to have a more significant gift. it takes a secure person to say, “I’m comfortable with who I am. this is what I’ve been given; I can improve it, I can develop it, I can cultivate it, but there’s always going to be somebody that can do it better, further along, more experienced. that doesn’t bother me; I know I have the gifts I need for my assignment.” you don’t have to have a great gift for God to use it in a great way. do you know what the gift was that David had that put him on the throne? it wasn’t his leadership skills, wasn’t his dynamic personality, wasn’t his ability to write and play music, it was his gift to sling a rock; he was a sharpshooter with the slingshot. he could’ve thought, “oh great, big deal, I’m good with the slingshot; this is not going to get me anywhere. I’m out the shepherds’ fields, alone, no people, just a bunch of sheep.” but it was that slingshot, that seemingly insignificant gift, that enabled him to defeat Goliath:
1 Samuel 17:49 (ERV)
49 David took out a stone from his bag. He put it in his sling and swung the sling. The stone flew from the sling and hit Goliath right between the eyes. The stone sank deep into his head, and Goliath fell to the ground—face down.
and eventually put him on the throne. quit discounting the gift that God has given you. it may seem insignificant; “I’m not as smart as my sister, not as talented as my coworker, can’t write software like my colleague.” maybe not, but there’s something God’s given you that you need, something that will propel you into your destiny, something that will cause you to leave your mark on this generation. don’t believe the lies that, “you’re average, there’s nothing special about you, you don’t have the personality like your cousin, you don’t have the talent like your friend.” no, but you’ve got a slingshot. it’s not so much what you have, it’s the anointing that God puts on it. that slingshot, your gift, may seem ordinary, but when God breathes on it, you’ll defeat a giant twice your size, you’ll be promoted beyond your talent, you’ll go places where you weren’t qualified, you didn’t have the experience, you weren’t next in line, but suddenly a door opened, suddenly you defeated the giant, suddenly the dream comes to pass. too often, we look for titles and positions, then we’re going to feel good about ourselves; “when I make it to sales manager, when I get on the varsity cheerleading squad, when I’m the head usher, the senior partner, lead supervisor.” that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with titles, but you don’t need a title to do what God’s called you to do. don’t wait for people to approve you, affirm you, validate you; use your gift and the title will come. if David would’ve waited for a title, we wouldn’t be talking about him today.
when he went out to face Goliath, the whole army was watching him. what’s interesting is; David wasn’t a general, he wasn’t a corporal, he wasn’t a sergeant, he wasn’t even enlisted. he didn’t have a title, a name badge, a uniform, any credentials; he could’ve said, “I can’t do anything great; I don’t have a position, nobody’s celebrating me, validating my gifts.” in fact, it was just the opposite; people were telling him how he was not qualified, he was too small, he was going to get hurt. that didn’t bother David; his attitude was, “I don’t need a title, I don’t need a position; you didn’t call me, and you don’t have to approve me. God called me; He gave me this gift. it may seem small, insignificant to you, but I’m not here to impress you, I’m not here to please you, I’m here to fulfill my destiny.” he went out and defeated Goliath. in a few years, they gave him a title; king of Israel. use your gifts, and the titles will come. “as soon as they crown me king of the office, then I’ll start being my best. as soon as they make me the head usher, then I’ll show up early, give it my all.” no, it works the other way around; you’ve got to show them what you’ve got, then the approval, then the recognition, reward, will come. you can’t wait for people’s approval to do what God’s called you to do. what you have may seem small; you could feel intimidated, thinking that you don’t have the qualifications, the title, the position. that’s okay, neither did David; if you’ll use what you have, God will breathe on it; His anointing on that simple gift will cause you to step into the fullness of your destiny.
in the scripture, there was a little boy; all he had was a lunch, 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. nothing much, not very significant, yet when thousands of people were hungry, Jesus took his lunch, multiplied it, and fed the whole crowd:
John 6:5-11 (NIV)
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip,“Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
think about this: the little boy’s mother got up early that morning to make the lunch. she baked the bread, she cooked the fish. she could’ve been considered insignificant; she was a homemaker, raising a child. other people were out doing more exciting things, being celebrated, making a splash. if she wouldn’t have been comfortable with who she was, accepting her assignment, secure in her gifts, she would’ve been out competing, trying to outperform others, thinking, “I’m falling behind, they’re making me look bad. I’m just making a lunch, I don’t have an important title.” no, titles don’t bring fulfillment, keeping up with your neighbors doesn’t bring happiness, trying to impress all your friends will make your life miserable, but running your race, understanding your assignment, being comfortable with who God made you to be, that what brings true fulfillment. we hear a lot about the little boy being willing to give the lunch, but it all started when his mother took time to make the lunch; she used her gift that seemed small, just making a lunch, but God took the lunch, multiplied it, fed thousands, and we’re still talking about it many years later.
don’t discount the gift God has given you. it may seem small, just making a lunch for your children; you don’t know how God’s going to use the child that you’re making the lunch for. you may be raising a president, a world leader, a great scientist, an entrepreneur, a business leader, a pastor. you may not touch the world directly, but your child may change the world; your assignment may be to help your seed go further. are you secure enough to play the role that God has given you? are you comfortable enough to not have to be number one, to be in the front, to have the title, the position, to keep up with others? we put so much emphasis on rising to the top, on being the leader, and yes, I believe in excelling, and having big gifts and big dreams, but I also know that everyone can’t be the leader, everyone can’t run the company, everyone can’t be on the platform; somebody has to open the doors, somebody has to play the music, somebody has to show people where to sit, where to park. the beauty of our God is, He’s given us all an assignment; every one of us has a specific gift, a specific purpose. think about this; who was more important, the little boy with the lunch, or the mother that made the lunch? without the mother, we wouldn’t be talking about the miracle.
who is more important, me being up here in front of all of you, or is the most important person really the ones that opened the building? without them, we couldn’t get in. or is it the ones that turned on the lights, the sound system, the cameras? or perhaps the ones that paid the bills during the week? or maybe it’s the ones that poured the foundation some 40 years ago and built this beautiful facility? or maybe it’s the ones that have supported the ministry down through the years, many of you. the answer is; they’re all equally important. without one, the whole thing wouldn’t function properly. be secure enough to play your role. we look at who’s in front, getting the credit, the recognition; they’re the leader. a lot of times, we look up to them, admire them; that’s where we want to be. but if that’s not where we’re called to be, if it’s not where we’re gifted, if it’s not a part of our assignment, then we’re going to be frustrated because it’s not happening. if we do get there, we’ll be frustrated trying to keep ourselves there, because if you promote yourself, manipulate your way into a position, then you will have to constantly work to try to stay in that position. but where God takes you, He’ll keep you; where you force your way, you have to keep yourself. it’s much better to have the attitude, “I don’t have to be ahead of my friend to feel good about myself. I don’t have to be on the main stage; I’m happy being in the background. I don’t have to be the little boy with the lunch; I’m happy to be the mom that made the lunch. I’m happy to singing in the choir. I’m happy to make my company look good.” when you’re not competing, not comparing, not trying to be something that you’re not, life gets a lot more free; it takes all the pressure off.
and yes, I realize there are some positions that carry more weight and more importance, but in God’s eyes the usher is just as important as the pastor. the people that clean the building are just as important as the people that own the building. the secretary is just as important as the supervisor. God is not going to judge you based on your neighbor’s gift, or your brother’s gift, or by how high you rose in the company; He is going to judge you based on the assignment that He’s given you. did you run your race? not, did you outperform your neighbor, were you more successful than your cousin, did you get more credit, more recognition than your colleague? you’re not competing with them; they’re running a different race. God is going to say to Esther, “did you have the courage to step up and save the nation like I gifted you to?” He’s going to say to the little boy’s mother, “did you get up early and make the lunch like I gifted you to?” two different assignments, two different giftings. God’s not going to compare: “Esther, I’m prouder of you, you did so much more.” to the mother, “all you did was make a lunch? lady, you need to get with it.” no, it’s all going to be depending on, “did you fulfill your assignment?” you have to be big enough to accept, “I may not be a racecar, I may not be as fast as my coworker, as smart as my sister, as talented as my neighbor, but that’s okay; an SUV is just fine. there’s a place where I fit perfectly, where my gifts, my talents, my skill, my personality, will shine.” every once in a while, you’ll see an SUV out on the Indy track, thinking, “I’m not gonna be happy unless I’m the fastest, out in front, getting all the credit.” no, stay in your race. there is nothing wrong with not being a racecar, nothing wrong with not being the fastest, most beautiful, most talented.
don’t get distracted competing in a race that you were never supposed to be in, trying to outperform your cousin, no, they’re in a different race. feeling less than because a friend is being more celebrated, frustrated because your neighbor is further along; no, stay in your race. be comfortable with who you are. ladies, you may have a friend that’s a size 4; she’s naturally small, thin. she doesn’t have to work out, watch what she eats; that’s just who she is. maybe you’re a size 14; you could work out four times a day and not eat for three years and not get down to a size 4. you better keep your SUV off that Indy track; quit comparing yourself to her, competing with her, just run your race. there’s nothing wrong with being a size 14; you’ve gotta accept what God has given you. a lot of times, we think, “if I had their talent, if I had their looks, if I could do what they’re doing, then I’d be happy, feel good about myself.” no, they may be doing something that seems more exciting, more appealing, but the truth is, if you traded places you wouldn’t be happy, you wouldn’t be fulfilled, because their gifts, talents, skills, personality, has been uniquely designed for their assignment. you could try to do what they’re doing, but the problem is, the anointing on your life is for your gifts, for what you’re called to do.
if you’ll learn to accept your gifts, not competing, comparing, “wish I looked different, wish I had different talents,” no, just be the best that you can be with what you have, and there will be a fulfillment, a satisfaction. God will open up doors; He will get you to where you’re supposed to be. when you’re comfortable with who you are, walking in your anointing, it takes the pressure off; you enjoy life. but when you’re always competing with a friend, trying to outperform a colleague, impress all your relatives, that is a frustrating way to live; you’re competing with someone that’s not even in your race. what happens when we’re competing with someone, trying to outperform them, dress better than them, make sure we’re more successful? we end up competing in a race that we were never supposed to be in. it takes a lot of energy, physical and emotional, to try to keep up with a coworker, dress better than a neighbor, be more successful than your cousin. no, take the pressure off; it’s very freeing to say, “I’m okay with you being ahead of me, getting more recognition, doing something more exciting. I’m not going to feel bad about myself if you have a bigger house, a better car, are more successful; you have what you need for your assignment, I have what I need for mine. I don’t have to keep up with you; I’m not in the same race.” you’re not really free until you know you’re not competing with anyone else. this is one of the reasons that King Saul lost the throne; he was happy, running his race, life was good, until he heard some women saying:
1 Samuel 18:7-8 (NIV)
7 As they danced, they sang:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.”
8 Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly.
from that moment on, he never looked at David the same way. what was his problem? he couldn’t handle somebody getting ahead of him. he was fine as long as he was number one, but he couldn’t handle being number two; he got distracted, and spent months and months trying to kill David, all because he wasn’t comfortable with who he was. maybe like Saul, you’re a 1000 level person, but you have a friend that’s a 10,000 level person; the real test to see if God can promote you is, can you celebrate people that pass you by? can you be happy for them, and stay focused on your race, or does it frustrate you, and you think, “I’ve got to catch up with them?” no, our attitude should be, “I may not be a 10,000 level person, God may have made me to be a 1000 level person, but I can promise you this; I’m going to be the best 1000 level person you’ve ever seen. I’m not gonna stop at 950, 980, 999, I’m gonna become all that God has created me to be.”
your race is made up of one person; you. don’t get distracted competing against a neighbor, a friend, a coworker; just run your race. you have exactly what you need for your assignment. learn to accept your gifts; there’s nothing wrong with not being the fastest, the most beautiful, the most talented. don’t compare yourself; celebrate yourself. somebody else may have conquered 10,000, you conquered 1000, but you know what? a thousand is still good; celebrate what you’ve accomplished. very few people today can say, “I like myself. I’m happy with my gifts. I am satisfied with who God made me to be.” remember, you don’t have to have a great gift for God to use it in a great way. it may seem small, making a lunch, slinging a rock like David, but if you’ll use what you have, God will breath on it and do amazing things. if you’ll learn this simple principle, being comfortable with who you are, you’ll not only enjoy your life more, you will rise higher, your gifts and talents will come out to the full, and you will become everything that God’s created you to be.