A woman shopping in Houston happily hummed a tune as she collected the items she wished to purchase and approached the cashier to pay. The clerk, noticing the shopper`s effervescent personality, lust stared at the shopper for a long moment as though she was wondering what was wrong with her. Still eying her somewhat curiously, the clerk finally offered an obligatory €œHow are you doing today?
That`s all it took. The enthusiastic woman nearly bubbled over. €œHow nice of you to ask! I`m doing great. I am so blessed. I`m excited about this day!
The clerk looked at the woman quizzically for a moment, and then said, €œLet me ask you a question. Do you go to Lakewood?
€œWhy, yes I do, the shopper said. €œHow did you guess?
The clerk shook her head and smiled. €œI should have known. Everybody that comes in here like you is from Lakewood.
When I first heard that story, I chuckled, but then I thought, What a great compliment! That`s the way it should be. God`s people should be the happiest people on earth! So happy, in fact, that other people notice. Why? Because we not only have a fabulous future, we can enjoy life today! That`s what living your best life now is all about.
Live with Enthusiasm
Living your best life now is living with enthusiasm and being excited about the life God has given you. It is believing for more good things in the days ahead, but it is also living in the moment and enjoying it to the hilt!
Let`s not be naive. The pressures of modern life constantly threaten to take a toll on our enthusiasm, causing it to quickly evaporate if it is not continually replenished. You probably know some people who have lost their passion. They`ve lost their zest for life. Once they were excited about the future. They were excited about their dreams, but they`ve lost their fire.
Perhaps even in your own life you`ve seen evidence of dwindling enthusiasm. Maybe at one time you were excited about your marriage. You were deeply in love, so full of passion, but now your marriage has become stale and stagnant. Or maybe you were excited about your job. You loved going to work, but recently, it`s become dull, routine, and boring. Maybe at one time you were excited about serving God. You couldn`t wait to get to church. You loved reading your Bible, praying, and spending time with fellow believers. But lately you`ve been thinking, I don`t know what`s wrong with me. I don`t have any drive. I don`t have fly passion. I`m just going through the motions.
The truth is, much of life is routine, and we can become stagnant if we`re not careful. We need to stir ourselves up, to replenish our supply of God`s good gifts on a daily basis. Like the Israeli people in the wilderness who had to gather God`s miraculous provisions of manna afresh each morning, we, too, cannot get by on yesterday`s supply. We need fresh enthusiasm each day. The word enthusiasm derives from two Greek words, en theos, meaning €œinspired by God. Our lives need to be inspired, infused, filled afresh with God`s goodness every day
Make a decision that you are not going to live another day without the joy of the Lord in your life; without love, peace, and passion; without being excited about your life. And understand that you don`t have to have something extraordinary happening in your life to be excited. You may not live in the perfect environment or have the perfect job or the perfect marriage, but you can still choose to live each day with enthusiasm. The Scripture says, €œNever lag in zeal, but be aglow and on fire, serving the Lord enthusiastically Do those terms describe your life? Are you aglow with God`s presence in your life? Are you on fire with enthusiasm? You can be! When you awaken in the morning, do you get up with passion to meet the day? Are you excited about your dreams? Do you go to work each day with enthusiasm?
€œWell, I don`t really like my job, Darlene complains. €œI can`t stand driving in the traffic. I don`t like the people I work around.
If that sounds familiar, you need to change your attitude. You should be grateful that you even have a job. You need to appreciate and stay excited about the opportunities God has given you. Wherever you are in life, make the most of it and be the best that you can be. If your assignment right now is to raise your children, do it with passion. Do it with enthusiasm. Don`t get up and say, €œHumph! My friends are out doing something significant, something important, something exciting. All I`m doing is taking care of these kids.
A mother`s work is one of the most important jobs in the whole world. But you have to keep up your enthusiasm. You may not have somebody patting you on the back or cheering you on. Your day may not be filled with extraordinary events. There are diapers to change, children to feed, clothes to be washed and pressed, housework that needs to be done; routine, mundane chores that seem to start over the moment you complete them. But in the midst of the ordinary, you can choose to have an extraordinary attitude toward your work. The Scripture tells us to do everything we do with our whole hearts, €œto never lag in zeal.
If you work outside the home, don`t give your employer a halfhearted effort. Don`t dawdle on the telephone, wasting your employer`s time and money. If you are digging a ditch, don`t spend half the day leaning on your shovel; do your work with excellence and enthusiasm!
€œWell, they don`t pay me enough, anyway I shouldn`t have to work very hard.
You won`t be blessed, with that kind of attitude. God wants you to give it everything you`ve got. Be enthusiastic. Set an example.
We should be so excited, and so full of joy that other people will want what we have. Ask yourself, €œIs the way I`m living attractive and contagious? Will my attitudes, the words I speak, my expressions, the way I handle challenges and setbacks, cause anybody to want what I have? In other words, are you drawing people to God, because of your joy your friendliness, your enthusiasm, your attitude of faith? Or do you alienate people, turning them away because you`re perpetually negative, discouraged, caustic, or cynical? Nobody enjoys being around a person like that. If you want to point people to God, or simply to a better way of living, have some enthusiasm and be excited about life.
I love the fictitious story of Tom Sawyer. As a young boy, Tom was told he had to go outside and paint the fence. Well, Tom didn`t feel like working; he wanted to go play with his friends. But instead of getting all negative and sour, he decided he was going to make the best of that situation. He went out and started painting that fence with enthusiasm and excitement, as though he were enjoying it. His friends came around, and when they saw how much fun Tom was having, they became envious of him. They said, €œHey, Tom! Would you let us try painting that fence?
€œOh, no, Tom said. €œThis is my fence. This is my project. You could never do what I`m doing. He played it up real big. And you know the story. When it was all said and done, Tom Sawyer was sitting back watching his friends do all the work, simply because he approached his chore with excitement and enthusiasm.
Who knows what would happen if each of us lived with more excitement in our eyes, with our hearts full of passion, our faces filled with enthusiasm? Instead of dragging around, complaining that you don`t want to mow the lawn, put a smile on your face, a spring in your step, start acting as if you`re enjoying it. Maybe somebody will come along to help! If not, at least you will feel better about your work. You`ll have more energy, and you will get the job done quicker. You will be amazed at how God will pour out His favor, and how the €œbreaks will start coming your way, when you start living with enthusiasm. Employers prefer employees who are excited about working at their companies. Your boss is much more likely to give you a raise in pay or a promotion if you have a good attitude and are excited about working, than if you just show up and do your work in a perfunctory manner. In fact, studies show that enthusiastic people often get promoted over other employees who are actually more qualified. The upbeat person is promoted simply because he or she has a good attitude.
Other People Will Notice
Hundreds of people work with us at Lakewood, but regardless of how talented or skilled a person may be, we don`t hire anybody who`s not excited about our organization. We don`t hire a person who doesn`t believe in what we are doing. Moreover, we don`t encourage employees to remain on our staff if they don`t think Lakewood is the greatest place in the world to work. We want only enthusiastic coworkers.
For several years, I noticed Jackie sitting down front at Lakewood Church, week after week. She was always excited about the service, attentive to what was going on, participating with tremendous enthusiasm, and radiating joy from her very demeanor and countenance. I didn`t know who she was, but she always looked like she was having the time of her life. When we sang, she would sing with her whole heart. When I`d be bringing a message, I`d look out at the audience, and Jackie would always have a smile on her face. She`d be nodding her head, as though she was encouraging me, €œCome on, Joel. Tell me more. You`re doing a good job.
When a staff position became available in our Women`s Ministry; the first thing I said was, €œSomebody go find that lady who sits down front. There`s nobody I would rather have represent us than somebody like her!
We hired Jackie, and she continues to inspire and encourage people. That door of opportunity opened for her simply because she was enthusiastic. She was excited. When you live with passion and are excited about your dreams, other people will notice. It may not even be your own employer who promotes you, but somebody else will notice Your positive attitude and will offer you a position that you weren`t expecting. All kinds of advantages and opportunities will come your way if you`ll simply do everything you do with enthusiasm, with your whole heart.
Growing up, I was fascinated by a traffic policeman who worked over by the Galleria, one of the busy shopping areas in Houston. He directed traffic at one of the busiest intersections in that part of town. During rush hour, the traffic would be so badly backed up, it was not uncommon to have to wait ten or fifteen minutes just to get through that one light. Observing people in their cars, it was plain to see that they were irritated about having to wait so long. But when they approached the policeman, their whole attitude changed.
This officer didn`t simply direct traffic. He put on a show! He was so enthusiastic, just watching him was entertaining. It was obvious that he loved what he was doing. He was practically dancing as he directed that traffic, with both arms waving wildly, his hands gesturing, his feet shuffling all through the intersection. He could direct the traffic and moonwalk at the same time!
Amazingly, after inching along in the traffic jam for ten or fifteen minutes, many drivers would pull over into nearby parking lots just to watch the traffic officer perform. He was enthusiastic. He wasn`t just showing up for work. He wasn`t just going through the motions. No, he was passionately fulfilling his destiny.
That`s the way you and I should be. Don`t just go through the motions in life. Have some enthusiasm. Choose to be happy; live with excellence and integrity, and put a spring in your step. Put a smile on your face. Moonwalk if you want, and let the world know that you are enjoying the life God has given you!
Friend, if you want to see God`s favor, do everything with your whole heart. Do it with passion and some fire. Not only will you feel better, but that fire will spread, and soon other people will want what you have. Do you want your life to make an impact? You can change the atmosphere of your home or your entire office with a little bit of enthusiasm. Don`t live another day defeated and depressed. Stir yourself up; rekindle that fire.
In the New Testament, the apostle Paul encouraged his young coworker Timothy: €œFan the flame. Rekindle the embers. Stir up the gift that is within you. Paul was reminding his understudy to live with enthusiasm. Give it your all. Don`t settle for mediocrity.
You may have to live or work around people who are prone to being negative, who tend to drag you down. But don`t let them throw water on your fire. Don`t let their lack of enthusiasm squelch your passion. If you live with a deadbeat spouse, make a decision that you`re going to be happy and enthusiastic anyway. If you work around people who are always negative, try to overcome that negativity by being positive, encouraging, and uplifting. Fan your flame more than usual to make sure the fire doesn`t go out.
When everybody else is down and defeated, when you are all alone with nobody nearby to encourage you, simply encourage yourself. Your attitude should be: It doesn`t matter what anybody else does or doesn`t do, I`m going to live my life with enthusiasm! I`m going to stay on fire. I`m going to be aglow. I`m going to be passionate about seeing my dreams come to pass.
People who see me on television sometimes write to me, Saying, €œJoel, why do you always smile so much? Why are you so happy? Why are you so enthusiastic?
€œI`m glad you asked! I respond, and that opens the door for me to tell them about my relationship with God, and how they can have a relationship with Him as well.
Some guy stopped me on the streets in New York City and said, €œHey; aren`t you that smiling preacher?
I laughed and said, €œI guess so. That`s me. I`m the smiling preacher. I take that as a compliment. Yes, I`m guilty of being happy! I`m guilty of being excited about the future. I`m guilty of living each day with enthusiasm.
God Has Great Things in Store for You
Prior to reading this book, you may have been down in the doldrums or stuck in a rut. Perhaps you were ready to give up on your dreams. You weren`t excited about the people in your life or your career. But now you know better! Now, you know that God has great things in store for you. It`s time to relight your fire; recapture your enthusiasm and adopt a fresh, positive, happy attitude.
€œYes, but Joel, I`ve had a rough year. I`ve gone through so many disappointments. I`ve lost a lot of good things.
Maybe so, but have you considered this? If it were not for the goodness of God, you might have lost it all. You might not even be here today. Why not be grateful for what you have? Quit looking at what`s wrong and start thanking God for what`s right. Get up each day expecting good things. Start expecting God`s favor. Start expecting His blessings. Be excited about today.
This could be the day things turn around. This could be the day you get your miracle. This could be the day you meet the person of your dreams. This could be the day your child comes back home. That`s how you stay enthusiastic, even in tough times. You expect good things. You stay filled with hope.
€œWhat if I do all that and nothing happens? I hear you saying. €œI`ll go to bed all discouraged after another disappointment.
No, you can go to bed saying, €œGod, even though it didn`t happen today, I`m still trusting. I`m still believing for good things in my life. I`m still excited, knowing that I`m one day closer to my miracle. I`m one day closer to things turning around. I`m one day closer to a breakthrough.
That`s what it means to stay full of zeal. Stay passionate about seeing your dreams come to pass. Stay on fire and aglow. Whatever you do, do it with enthusiasm!
The Bible says, €œIf you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. Notice, we have to be more than obedient; we must be willing€”willing to do the right thing, willing to live with a good attitude and with enthusiasm.
It`s interesting to watch when the offerings are taken in church. A lot of people will give, but they`re not really willing. Their attitude is: Here, God. Here`s the money I owe You. Another hundred bucks. I could have bought a new truck by now.
Technically, they may be obedient when it comes to giving, but God desires more than mere obedience; He`s looking for a willing heart. The Bible says, €œGod loves a cheerful giver. (One translation says, €œAn enthusiastic giver.) This truth does not simply apply to money. We should cheerfully give of our time, cheerfully serve other people, cheerfully do good to those around us.
I don`t enjoy people giving me things out of obligation or duty, simply because they feel they have to. What if on my birthday my children came up to me and said, €œAll right, Daddy, here is your gift. We had to spend all our money on this, so if you really want it, you can have it?
As much as I love my children, I`d say, €œNo, that`s all right. You just keep that gift.
What if Victoria came up to me in the morning and said, €œAll right, Joel, let`s get it over with. Let me give you a hug. Okay, I did my duty for the day
No, we all want somebody who wants to love us, somebody with a willing heart, somebody who`s enthusiastic about being around us. God is the same way He doesn`t simply want us to obey Him out of fear or even respect; He wants us to love Him as our heavenly Father. He wants us to do the right thing because we want to!
He looks at your heart. When you pray talk to God with a willing attitude. When it`s time to attend church services or take part in other opportunities to serve in the community be excited about it. Don`t do it out of obligation, merely because you have to. No, do it because you want to please God. Do it with enthusiasm. Learn to be more than obedient; learn to be willing. Develop a habit of doing the right thing with the proper motives, with a right attitude, and out of a grateful heart.
One of the main reasons that we lose our enthusiasm in life is because we become ungrateful; we take for panted what God has done for us. We let what once was a miracle become common to us. We get so accustomed to His goodness, it becomes routine; it doesn`t really excite us anymore. I heard somebody say €œDon`t let your miracles become monuments. A monument is a piece of wood or stone that reminds us of something that once was alive, vibrant, and exciting.
Maybe you used to be excited about the home that God helped you to buy but now that you`ve grown accustomed to it, you forget to be grateful for it; you`re not excited about it anymore. That`s old news.
Maybe you once were excited about that person God supernaturally brought into your life as a marriage partner, but now all the excitement has worn off. Don`t allow that sense of a miracle to slip away. Don`t get so familiar with each other that you take one another for granted.
During the first year that Victoria and I dated, we were on cloud nine. We laughed. We had fun. We didn`t need to do extravagant or expensive things for entertainment. We were happy doing ordinary things. We were in love; we were excited, so everything we did was exciting as far as we were concerned.
On one of our first dates I picked her up a bit early, so we had a few minutes to spare. As we were driving down the highway Victoria said, €œJoel, let`s pull into that new office building over there and take a look at the lobby I`ve heard that it is incredibly beautiful.
Now, normally I would think. Why do I want to go into a building and look at a lobby? I can think of much more exciting things to do.
But no, I was with Victoria. As long as she was there, it didn`t matter. I would have gone and looked around a power plant as long as we were together!
If you are married, you probably felt the same way about your spouse. You were head over heels for that person. You knew God brought you together.
But too often, as time goes by, we take for granted what God has done for us. We get up in the morning and say €œWell, that`s just my wife (or husband). No big deal. Sorry honey I don`t have time to give you a hug. I`m in a hurry I don`t have time to do anything fun tonight. I might miss my favorite TV show, or the ball game. What we once regarded as a miracle has now become commonplace. We`ve grown cool to it; we take what we have for granted.
But the good news is, that fire can be rekindled. In your marriage, in your career, in your personal relationships, in your life! If you will initiate the changes you`ve learned about in this book, the excitement will come back. Rekindle that fire. Don`t take life for granted.
Don`t take for panted the greatest gift of all that God has given you€”Himself! Don`t allow your relationship with Him to become stale, or your appreciation for His goodness to become common. Get your fire back. Fan the flame more than ever. Live with enthusiasm. Whatever you do, do it for Him, with your whole heart.
Friend, God doesn`t want you to drag through life defeated and depressed. No matter what you`ve been through, no matter whose fault it was, no matter how impossible your situation may look, the good news is that God wants to turn it around and restore everything that has been stolen from you. He wants to restore your marriage, your family your career. He wants to restore those broken dreams. He wants to restore your joy and give you a peace and happiness you`ve never known before. Most of all, He wants to restore your relationship with Him. God wants you to live a satisfied life.
God doesn`t want you simply to feel a little better for a few days after you read this book. No, God is in the long-term restoration business. He wants you to have a life filled with an abundance of joy, an abundance of happiness. God doesn`t want you simply to survive that marriage. God wants to turn it around and restore you with a strong, healthy, rewarding relationship. God doesn`t want your business to merely make it through the murky economic waters. He wants your business to sail and to excel! When God restores, He always brings you out better, improved, increased, and multiplied. He has a vision of total victory for your life!
Hold on to that new, enlarged vision of victory that God has given you. Start expecting things to change in your favor. Dare to boldly declare that you are standing strong against the forces of darkness. You will not settle for a life of mediocrity!
Raise your level of expectancy. It`s our faith that activates the power of God. Let`s quit limiting Him with our small-minded thinking and start believing Him for bigger and better things. Remember, if you obey God and are willing to trust Him, you will have the best this life has to offer€”and more! Make a decision that from this day forward, you are going to be excited about the life God has for you. If you will:
€¢ Enlarge your vision;
€¢ Develop a healthy self-image;
€¢ Discover the power of your thoughts and words;
€¢ Let go of the past;
€¢ Stand strong against op position and adversity;
€¢ Live to give;
€¢ And choose to be happy...,
God will take you places you`ve never dreamed of, and you will be living your best life now!