Being a Person of Excellence and Integrity By Joel Osteen
For many people, mediocrity is the norm; they want to do as little as they possibly can and still get by. But God did not create us to be mediocre or average. He doesn`t want us to just barely get by, or to do what everybody else is doing. God has called us to be a cut above. He`s called us to stand out in the crowd, to be people of excellence and integrity. Indeed, the only way to be truly happy is to live with excellence and integrity. Any hint of compromise will taint our greatest victories or our grandest achievements.
What does it mean to be a person of excellence and integrity?
A person of excellence and integrity goes the extra mile to do what`s right. He keeps his word even when it`s difficult. People of excellence arrive at work on time. They give their employers a full day`s work; they don`t leave early or call in sick when they are not. When you have an excellent spirit, it shows up in the quality of your work, and the attitude with which you do it.
God doesn`t bless mediocrity. He blesses excellence. The Scripture says, €œWhatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, not unto men, but do it unto God knowing that God will reward you. Notice, whatever we do, we should give it our best effort and do it as if we were doing it for God. If we`ll work with that standard in mind, God promises to reward us.
If you want to live your best life now, start aiming for excellence and integrity in your life, doing a little bit more than you are required to do. If you are supposed to be at work at eight o`clock, get there ten minutes early and stay ten minutes late. Go the extra mile. A lot of people show up at work fifteen minutes late, then they wander around the office, go get some coffee, and finally get to their desk or worksite thirty minutes later. They spend half the day talking on the phone, playing games, or sending jokes on the Internet, and then they wonder, God, why don`t You ever bless me? Why don`t I ever get a promotion?
God doesn`t bless mediocrity God blesses excellence and integrity
€œBut Joel, everybody`s doing it. Everybody gets to work late at my office. Everybody plays on the Internet when the boss is gone. Everybody takes extra-long lunch breaks.
Maybe so, but you are not like everybody else! You are called to live a life of excellence. You represent Almighty God. How you live, how you conduct your business or do your work, whether you`re on time or not, is all a reflection on our God.
Start making the more excellent choices in every area of life, even the mundane. For instance, you maybe driving a car that hasn`t been washed in six weeks. Your trunk or backseat may be filled with so much junk€”everything from your sports equipment to your office equipment€”you can barely close the door! I`m not condemning anybody€”Victoria and I have children, too€”and sometimes our car looks like a storm hit it. But I don`t like driving a car like that. Not only does it represent God poorly, but it makes me feel unkempt, undisciplined, sloppy, and less than my best. Many times before I leave the house, I`ll take a couple of minutes and clean out the car, not because I want to impress my friends, but because I feel better driving a clean car. You need to take pride in what God has given you.
You may say, €œWell, Joel, I`m just driving an old clunker. No use in my washing this.
No, if you will start taking care of what God has given you, He`ll be more likely to give you something better. Similarly, you may not live in a big, new, beautiful home. You may have an older, smaller home, but at least you can keep it looking nice. Make sure it looks like a person of excellence lives there.
A while back, I was driving through a certain section of Houston and I noticed that many of the people didn`t take care of their homes. The yards weren`t mowed; the weeds were overgrown, and things were stacked and stored everywhere on the side of the house, in the front yard, wherever space was available. The entire neighborhood looked messy. As I continued driving, I came to one particular house that stood out among the rest. The yard was mowed, everything was neatly in order, and the home looked beautiful. When I got to the church, I commented about that house in that neighborhood. Somebody said, €œThe people who live in that house are some of our most faithful members.
That didn`t surprise me a bit. God`s people are people of excellence. The people who live in that home could have said, €œNobody else is taking care of their property in this neighborhood, why should we? But they chose to be people of excellence, and they stood out from the crowd.
You may be in a situation today where everybody around you is compromising their integrity or taking the easy way out. Don`t let that rub off on you. Be the one to have an excellent spirit. Be the one to stand out in the crowd.
Take care of what God has given you. My grandparents lived in a little wood-frame house that Granddaddy built way back in the 1930s. It couldn`t have been more than a thousand square feet, but every time I went over there, the place was spotless inside and out. The yard was always immaculate. The bushes were perfectly trimmed. Granddaddy kept the outside of that house painted, and Grandmother kept the inside neat and clean. My grandparents didn`t have a lot of money, but that didn`t matter. They were people of excellence. They knew they represented God, and they were intent on being a positive reflection.
The same should be true of us. You are made in the image of Almighty God, and how you present yourself in your personal appearance is not only a reflection of how you feel about yourself, it is a direct reflection on God. When you put on a fresh, clean outfit, you`ll go out feeling confident. On the other hand, if you leave the house looking sloppy and wearing dirty, disheveled clothing, you`re not going to feel good about yourself.
One day Victoria asked me to run to the grocery store and pick up something so she could finish making dinner. I had just finished working out, and I was hot and sweaty. I was wearing an old T-shirt, and my hair was all messed up. But I didn`t really feel like changing clothes. I thought, Okay, I`ll run up to the grocery store and try to get in and out of there quickly, so hopefully nobody will see me. I drove to the store, still in my workout clothes. I pulled in the parking lot and was about to hop out of the car when God spoke to me. I mean, if God has ever spoken to me, He spoke to me right there! Right down inside, I`m sure He said, €œDon`t you dare go in there representing Me like that! He said, €œDon`t you know that I`m the King of kings?
I turned around, went back home, took a shower, combed my hair, brushed my teeth, and put on some clean clothes. Then I went back to that grocery store and picked up that TV dinner Victoria wanted!
Seriously, we need to remind ourselves that we represent Almighty God, and He does not appreciate laziness or sloppiness. When you go to the mall, and you accidentally knock those clothes off the rack, don`t act as though you don`t see them and just leave them lying on the floor. A person of excellence will pick them up and put them back on the appropriate rack. When you`re at the grocery store and you suddenly decide you don`t want that box of cereal, don`t just stick it over by the potato chips. A person of excellence takes it back to where she found it.
€œBut Joel, those stores have employees who are paid to do those things, I hear somebody saying. That doesn`t matter. You do what is right, as unto God.
A person of excellence doesn`t park in a parking spot designated for handicapped persons, just so he can run in and pick up something real quick. People of excellence go the extra mile to do what`s right, not because somebody`s watching them, not because they have to, but because they are honoring God.
People of excellence take care of other people`s property as if it`s their own. If you are in a hotel room, don`t set a glass of water on that wooden table when you know it will stain. You wouldn`t do that at your own house. Be a person of excellence and respect other people`s property. When I used to travel a lot, many times I`d leave the hotel room with all the lights on, the air conditioner going full blast, and the television blaring. I thought, No big deal. I`m paying for this room. I can do what I want. But something inside said, Joel, that`s not right. You don`t waste electricity at your home. You should treat other people`s property the same way you`d want them to treat yours.
Understand, neglecting those little things will not keep you out of heaven; in most cases, it won t even cause you serious problems or make you miserable in this life. But those subtle compromises of integrity will keep you from God`s best. They will prevent you from ascending to your highest level. They will keep you from living your best life now. God desires people who will go the extra mile to do what is right even when nobody is watching.
People Are Watching You
I was in a store parking lot one windy day, and when I opened my car door, the wind blew out several pieces of paper onto the ground. I didn`t really need the papers, but I didn`t want to litter, either. Each time I went to pick them up, a gust of wind blew them about fifteen or twenty feet in all different directions. I thought, Now, I don`t want to go chasing around the parking lot all day, trying to pick up that paper! I glanced at the lot and noticed there was already plenty of other trash out there. I was in kind of a hurry, too. I came up with several good excuses why I shouldn`t waste any more time chasing kites. I had almost talked myself out of retrieving the trash when I decided, No, I will do the right thing and go pick that stuff up.
I wandered around that parking lot pursuing my papers. Every time the wind kicked up, the paper flew even farther. I was saying to myself, €œWhat in the world are you doing out here? Just leave it. The store probably has a street weeper that comes by every night!
But I kept collecting papers until I felt certain I had all that had flown from my car€”and several that had flown from other people`s cars! When I finally got it all gathered up, I came back to my car. I hadn`t realized it, but there was a couple sitting in the car parked next to mine. They rolled down their windows when they recognized me. We talked there for a couple of seconds. Then the young woman smiled and said, €œWe were watching to see what you were going to do about all those papers that flew out of your car.
I thought, Thank You, God, that I obeyed and did the right thing! Whether you realize it or not, people are watching you. They`re watching how you dress, how you take care of your home, how you treat other people. They`re watching you at work. What do they see? Are you a good representation of our God? Are you striving for excellence? Or are you compromising in so called insignificant areas?
God wants us to be people of integrity, people of honor, people who are trustworthy. A person of integrity is open and honest. He doesn`t have any hidden agendas or ulterior motives. A person of integrity is true to his word. He keeps his commitments. He doesn`t need a legal contract; his word is his bond. People of integrity are the same in private as they are in public. They don`t go out and treat their friends and coworkers kindly and then go home and treat their family rudely or disrespectfully. No, when you have integrity you`ll do what`s right whether anybody is watching or not.
Every day our integrity is tested. If the bank teller gives you too much money in return, are you going to have integrity and go back and make things right? Or are you going to go out of there saying, €œThank You, Jesus! You did it again!
Do you call in sick at work so you can stay home and take care of your personal business? When the phone rings and it`s somebody you don`t want to talk to, do you tell your child to lie? €œTell them I`m not home!
€œOh, Joel, that`s just a little white lie, some people say. €œIt`s not hurting anything. No, lies are not color coded in the Bible. In God`s sight, there is no such thing as a white, gray, or black lie. A lie is a lie. If you`re not telling the truth, that`s being dishonest. Sooner or later, it will catch up to you. What you sow you will eventually reap.
Understand this: If you will lie about the little things, before long you`ll lie about bigger things. We read about the large companies that have come tumbling down because of fraud and financial misdeeds. Those people didn`t start off by stealing millions of dollars. Most likely, they started off compromising a hundred dollars here, a thousand dollars there. Then, when the opportunity came, they compromised in millions. Don`t kid yourself, if you will compromise in something small, eventually you will compromise in more serious matters. Compromise is a downhill slide. And theft is theft, whether it`s a dollar, a thousand dollars, or a million dollars. If you`re taking home your company`s office supplies, that`s being dishonest. If you`re not giving your company a full day`s work, that`s not integrity If you`re having to stretch the truth in order to get that new account, that is deceit, and God won`t bless that. We need to live honestly before our God and before other people. I heard somebody put it this way: €œDon`t do anything that you wouldn`t feel comfortable reading about in the newspaper the next day.
When I go to the video store, if I have to hide from someone the movie I am renting, then something is wrong. If my credit report were to be made public today, would I be embarrassed because I never pay my bills on time? If my coworkers were interviewed on television, would they say I`m a person of honor, somebody they can count on, somebody they can trust? Or would they say, €œThat guy will stab you in the back every time. He`s only out for himself?
God wants us to be people of excellence and integrity. If you don`t have integrity, you will never reach your highest potential. Integrity is the foundation on which a truly successful life is built. Every time you compromise, every time you are less than honest, you are causing a slight crack in your foundation. If you continue compromising, that foundation will never be able to hold what God wants to build. You`ll never have lasting prosperity if you don`t first have integrity. Oh, you may enjoy some temporary success, but you`ll never see the fullness of God`s favor if you don`t take the high road and make the more excellent choices. On the other hand, God`s blessings will overtake us if we settle for nothing less than living with integrity
Of course, we all want to prosper in life. But the real question is: Are we willing to pay the price to do the right thing? It`s not always easy. Are we paving our honest debts? Are we being aboveboard in our business decisions? Are we treating other people with respect and honor? Are we being true to our word? Integrity and prosperity are flip sides of the same coin. You can`t have one without the other.
God may be reminding you about paying a bill that you`ve swept under the rug. Maybe it`s about getting to work on time consistently: maybe you know you should be more truthful in that business deal. Start making things right. Step up to a higher level of integrity in those areas. God is calling us out of mediocrity and into excellence.
The Bible says if we will be faithful in little things, then God will trust us with more. How can God trust me to do the right thing with millions of dollars, if I won`t do the right thing with a hundred bucks? Yet too many people are letting the little things keep them from moving higher.
You may not think it makes any difference when you don`t pay your bills on time, or when you tell those €œlittle white lies. You may think it doesn`t make a difference if you treat your friends one way and your family another. But if you don`t learn to pass those little tests, then God won`t promote you. If you don`t learn to do what`s right in the little areas, God can`t trust you with more. Remember, our lives are an open book before God. He looks at our hearts. He looks at our motives. God sees every time you go the extra mile to do what`s right. He also sees the times that you compromise and take the easy way out.
I heard about a guy who left early from work one day to go to his grandmother`s funeral. The next morning at work, his boss came up and said, €œDo you believe in life after death?
The employee looked puzzled and finally said, €œWell, yes; I do.
The boss said, €œBoy, that makes me feel a whole lot better.
€œWhy? What are you talking about?
The boss said, €œWell, yesterday after you left to attend your grandmother`s funeral, she stopped by to visit you.
That is the opposite of integrity! Be open and honest and tell the whole truth. If you want to take your child out of school one day to go to a ball game, don`t write the teacher a note the next day and say, €œPlease excuse little Johnny from school. He just wasn`t feeling well. God can`t bless that.
€œBut Joel, he might get in trouble.
I would rather get in trouble with men than get in trouble with God. Besides, you never really lose if you take the high road. Learn to listen to your conscience. God put that inside you so you would have an inner rule by which to know right from wrong. When you start to compromise, you will hear that alarm go off in your conscience. Don`t ignore it. Do what you know in your heart is the right thing.
Moreover, a person of integrity says what he means and means what he says. People should not have to try to figure out what you really meant. Be straightforward in your statements and conversations. Integrity is more than not telling a lie. A person of integrity will not deceive or mislead in any way. Often it`s easy to tell part of the truth while conveniently leaving out something we know might have a negative impact. That is not speaking with integrity. We need to be open and honest even when it`s difficult.
Say you are trying to sell your automobile. A man approaches with his checkbook in hand. He`s excited; he likes your car; he`s ready to sign on the dotted line. But then he looks at you and says, €œLet me ask you one last question: Have you ever wrecked this car?
Like a computer hard drive, your mind whirrs through the possible answers. Although you have never wrecked it, your wife, child, and mother-in-law have all had major accidents in the car. You start to reason it all out, thinking, Well . . . technically, the man asked if I have ever wrecked it . . . so you look at him and smile. €œNo, I`ve never wrecked this car.
If you listen carefully, you will hear a resounding alarm going off in your conscience. And if you are a person of integrity, you will say, €œBut yes, the car has been wrecked.
A person of integrity will tell the whole truth. €œBut Joel, I hear you protesting. €œThat`s just not the way business is done nowadays. If I tell the man the truth, he may not buy the car. I may lose this sale.
Yes, you may lose a few sales in the short term, but in the long term, you will fare much better. Even if that person doesn`t buy what you are selling, because you responded in integrity, God will make it up to you. He will send somebody along to buy the car for more money. He`ll give you a promotion at work. He`ll help you get a better deal on that new car you`re trying to buy. Friend, God is in charge of the whole universe. If you will honor Him by walking in integrity, He will make sure that you are blessed in abundance. Scripture says, €œGod holds victory for the upright and He guards those who walk in integrity If you want God to guard you, if you want God to bring victory into your life, you must make a decision that you are going to be a person of integrity.
A businessman worried, €œIf I told the whole truth, I`d lose some of my best customers. I may lose some of my biggest clients.
€œNo, I said. €œIf you will consistently do what is right, even if you do lose some customers, God will bring you bigger and better clients. There`s no limit to what God will do in your life when He knows that He can trust you.
€œI know people at my workplace, and they lie, they cheat, they stab people in the back, said a young woman working for a stock brokerage. It`s not hurting them one bit. In fact, they`re getting way ahead of me.
€œDon`t be deceived, I replied. €œOne day that is going to catch up with them. I promise you this: If you`ll make a commitment to integrity, in the long run you`ll go further, you`ll be happier, you`ll be more fulfilled. God will promote you. He holds victory in store for you when you walk uprightly. When you refuse to compromise, He is guarding your path. If you just sink down to their level and do what everybody else is doing, stabbing people in the back, cutting corners here and there, you may think you re gaining, but in the end you`ll be the one to suffer. In the end you`ll be the one to lose out.
Commit to Excellence
I heard a story about a wealthy man whose friend was a builder. This builder was down on his luck and hadn`t had much work lately, so the wealthy man felt sorry for him and decided to help him out. He gave him a set of plans and a check for $300,000. He said, €œI want you to build me a new home. I don`t have time to bother with it. I`m turning it all over to you. You make all the decisions. I trust you. If you do a good job, I promise to pay you well.
This builder was so excited. He could finally start making some money. But he got to thinking, If I cut a few corners here and there, maybe I could pocket some of that $300,000. So he went out and bought the cheapest concrete he could find. He had the cement mixer water it down so it would stretch further. He saved four or five thousand dollars right there. Excited, he went out and found the cheapest lumber he could find. Some of it was bent and warped and crooked. He didn`t care. It was going to be hidden behind the walls. Nobody would ever see it. He did the same thing with the plumbing, the electrical work, and so on, cutting corners and saving money. When the house was completed, he had saved nearly $40,000, which he discreetly deposited in his own bank account.
He called his wealthy friend to come take a look at the house. The purchaser was quite impressed. On the surface, the home looked beautiful. He never guessed that the builder had cut corners, compromising the integrity of the whole house.
The builder seas ecstatic as he noted the pleased expression on the owner`s face. He couldn`t wait to see how much he was going to get paid. After all, he knew the owner was a very generous man.
As the wealthy man walked to the front door, he turned with a twinkle in his eye and said to the builder, €œYou know; I don`t really need this home. I already have a beautiful home. I was just trying to help you out and do you a favor. He handed the builder the keys, and said, €œHere, my friend. This is for you. You`ve just built yourself a brand-new home.
That builder nearly passed out. He thought, If I had known it was going to be my own home, I would have built it a whole lot better!
The truth is, whether we realize it or not, we all are building our own homes. We may cut corners here and there, but it`s not hurting anybody except ourselves. Those poor decisions will weaken our foundations, causing us all kinds of problems in the future. Everything may look fine on the surface, but what really counts is what`s going on within the walls, behind closed doors. What do we do when nobody is watching? Are we watering down our foundations because of a lack of integrity? Are we cheating people here and not paying taxes over there, compromising right and left? What kind of materials are we putting into our own homes?
This builder got into his new house and three months later, he was having foundation problems. Six months after that, cracks appeared in the walls. The plumbing wouldn`t work right. It cost him far more than the $40,000 he`d €œsaved to fix all those problems. If he had it to do over again, he would do it right the first time.
In the same way, when we compromise to get ahead or sully someone else`s reputation so we can be promoted, we may think we`re gaining, but in the end it will bring nothing but problems. We`ll suffer dire consequences. We have to live in our own homes. I can`t build your home; you can t build mine. No, we each have to take responsibility for our own decisions. I don`t know what you do behind closed doors. You don`t know what I do. But as people of integrity; we should have the same character in private as we do in public. We don`t put on our Sunday face in church and then go out and compromise all during the week. It`s not enough to talk the talk. We`ve got to walk the walk.
You may be tempted at work to make a personal long-distance call on your company`s phone lines. €œAw, go ahead, a coworker says. €œEverybody does it. Nobody`s going to see you. Nobody will know whether it was a business call or not.
No, a person of excellence and integrity does what is right, even when nobody is watching. People of excellence do what`s right because it is right, not because somebody is forcing them to do it. Friend, there are a lot of things you can get away with in life and still be acceptable in society`s eyes. You can compromise your personal integrity or that of your company; you can cheat people or be dishonest. You can lie, steal, compromise your morals, and you can cut corners here and there. But the question is: How high do you want to go? How much of God`s favor do you want to see? How much do you want God to use you? God cannot promote you or bless you if you are not living in integrity
A few years ago a friend of mine was in the process of changing jobs. He was an executive, and he landed a great position at a new company. He was excited about the new job, but it wasn`t scheduled to start for three or four months. When he gave his company notice, they agreed that he should work right up until that new job started.
My friend was a hard worker, diligent and very intelligent. He always gave the job his best. Nevertheless, during that three-month period, while things were winding down at his former place of employment, I expected that he`d sort of kick back and take it easy, maybe go in late, maybe take some time off. After all, he wasn`t trying to impress anybody there.
But he did just the opposite. He went in earlier than ever and stayed later. He started new projects; he gave it his best effort. I was really impressed. One day` I was talking to him about it, and I said, €œYou`re working harder than ever. How come?
He said, €œJoel, I was planning on taking it easy till my new job began, but one day I went to work feeling kind of lazy, giving a halfhearted effort, and God spoke to me right down inside. He said, €˜Son, if you don`t continue to honor this company by giving them your best effort, you`re not going to excel at that new position.` When I heard that, I knew I had to give it everything I`ve got.
My friend realized who his real Boss is. He was not working for the company or for his supervisor, he was working unto God, not unto men. God is the One keeping the records. He`s the One who will reward us. He`s the One who can promote you. We shouldn`t act nobly simply because somebody is watching us. We should do what`s right because God is watching us. Do what`s right because you are a person of excellence and integrity
If you`ve made some mistakes in ethical matters, do the honorable thing and make it right as best you can. If you will be committed to excellence, God will help you to get out of that mess. But He`s not going to help you if you won`t walk in integrity
My dad was a person of excellence and a man of integrity. When he was in his early twenties, he once bought two suits on credit. But he moved away and never paid them off. Year after year went by, and he`d forgotten all about it. One day he was praying, and God brought that unpaid bill up in his spirit and reminded him about those two suits. Daddy felt so badly; he decided to do his best to make it right. This was some thirty or forty years after the fact, but he called Fort Worth and tried to contact the place where he had bought those suits. It was no longer in business, but that didn`t stop Daddy He asked the company next door if they knew the name of the man who had owned the business. They gave him the man`s name, but, they said, €œhe died a number of years ago. Daddy didn`t give up. He dug in the phone book, made call after call trying to track down some of that man`s relatives. He finally got in touch with one of the man`s sons, and Daddy sent him a check for several thousand dollars, not just for the two suits, but he included interest as well. Why did he do it? Because Daddy was a person of excellence and integrity He honored God by keeping his word.
When you make a commitment to excellence and integrity, God will reward you. When you are committed to doing what`s right, you are sowing seeds for God`s blessings. You will never go wrong by taking the high mad and doing more than is required.
A few years before my dad went to be with the Lord, we decided that we were going to remodel the platform area at Lakewood Church. At the time, I was working behind the scenes in the television production department. I`m a perfectionist, so I wanted the new set to look the best that it possibly could. We worked several months with the architects and the designers, and after they got it all drawn up, I had a mock-up made of everything. I wanted to see it through the camera before we built anything permanently. We brought up a big sphere and positioned it at the right height where eventually we constructed a large revolving globe. Then we had the designers position the mock-up of the podium, and we brought my dad in and sized it just for him, fine-tuning every detail. When we got it all built, we spent several weeks working on the lighting. Victoria used to ask me, €œJoel, why are you spending hours and hours adjusting one little light, maybe just one little slash of color across the curtain?
€œBecause I want it to be right, I`d reply I was committed to doing the best I could do. I was committed to excellence. Little did I realize that one day I would be the one standing on that same platform, behind that same podium. I didn`t realize it then, but I was building my own house. Looking back, I`m glad I put forth the extra effort. I`m glad I gave it everything I had.
Have that same commitment to excellence. Start doing what you know in your heart is the better thing. Don`t settle for mediocrity. Don`t just do what you have to do to get by. Be a person who goes the extra mile. Be a person who does a little bit more than he has to do. Remember, you and I are representing Almighty God. Let`s be done with lazy, mediocre, sloppy living, and let`s move up to higher levels. If you will live with a commitment to excellence and integrity, happiness will be a natural by-product, because God will reward you far beyond your grandest dreams!