BECOMING A CEO SERMON SERIES
HOW TO IMPLEMENT ENTHUSIASM INTO YOUR LIFE
JANUARY 19, 1997
You can see it all over a person and especially in the eyes; the zest, the zeal, the intensity of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm. “Died at 35, buried at 75” is an appropriate epitaph for far too many Americans. I believe what we need in this hour is an infusion of outrageous, contagious enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a fascinating emotion that is difficult to explain yet simplistic to see. Enthusiasm has the ability to move us from the mundane into the meaningful, from the background into the foreground and from the plain into the passionate. Enthusiasm can turn our looseness into elation and our indifference into excitement. I am talking about enthusiasm.
I am not talking about some sweet, syrupy, conjured up type feel-good emotion. I am discussing true, authentic enthusiasm. In enthusiasm the eyes have it. All you have to do is lock eyes with someone, to make eye contact with them and you can tell that that person has enthusiasm. So in this session, I want to talk to you just briefly about the Is of enthusiasm, not the eyes, glass wearing, contact lens bearing kind of eyes but capital letter Is of enthusiasm. The capital letter Is of enthusiasm also have it too. When we make I contact with enthusiasm, I believe it can change the trajectory of your life and my life.
The Is of enthusiasm. There are two. First, enthusiasm is intentional. It is very important that we grasp this. Enthusiasm is intentional. Earlier this week I was making my morning trek to Starbucks. I was standing in line and I overheard a woman talking to one of the workers. She was in her late 30s and I will paraphrase what she said. “Can you believe this weather, it is horrible. I hate the ice, the snow makes me sick, the kids get colds and I just despise it.” The more she talked, the more it kind of brought me down. I began to say to myself that it was kind of bad. Have to wear gloves and coats and hats. I got my coffee, a tall coffee with room for cream, jumped in my truck and headed to work.
The first person that I saw at the office was spiritual development pastor, Preston Mitchell. I said, “Preston, how are you doing?” “All right! I am so excited, it’s snowing. I love snow. It’s a change of season. My kids love it. Dedo loves it. I love it, Ed. I just love the snow.” What was going on in this scenario? The lady in her late 30s at Starbucks chose not to be enthusiastic and it rubbed off on me. Conversely, Preston chose enthusiasm, he made an intentional choice and his enthusiasm spoke to me in a great way.
Last week I began this series BECOMING A CEO and we talked about creativity. I will quote myself. I said, “Somewhere along life’s journey most of us get a creative cramp.” And I answered the question on how to get rid of a creative cramp biblically. Also along life’s journey, most of us get some enthusiasm spasms. Have you ever gotten enthusiasm spasms? I have. Enthusiasm spasms tyrannize and paralyze our lives. They come in three basic forms.
The first enthusiasm spasm that I deal with and you come in contact with is worry. Worry. I define worry as an inordinate amount of anxiety about something that may or may not happen. Do you ever worry about things? Here is my observation. Most of the junk that we worry about never happens anyway. Yet we still worry and worry.
A couple of years ago I made the mistake of carrying around a car battery in the back of my suburban. Some battery acid spilled on the carpet. I looked at it and watched it begin to discolor the carpet a little bit. I ran and got a towel and tried to get it up and thought I had. I washed my hands and thought, no big problem. Over the next few days I watch in horror as this battery acid ate a Grand Canyon type hole in the back of my suburban. That acid just ate the carpet up. Worry is like acid. It will eat our enthusiasm alive. It will cause us to have an enthusiasm spasm. Jesus said these words about worry in Matthew 6:27. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Are you familiar with that spasm called worry?
There is a second enthusiasm spasm called stress. I define stress as worry on steroids. It’s intense strain about something out of our control. The National Occupation Board of Health and Safety estimates that stress on the American workforce cost our country a 100 billion dollars a year. Philippians 4:16 says this about the stressful spasm that many of us find ourselves today. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” The word in this verse, “anxious” literally means to choke, to strangle, to pull in different directions. Do you ever feel like that? In your marriage, or with your children, or in a dating relationship? It can rob your enthusiasm.
There is a third form of this spasm, fear. The three greatest fears that we deal with are the fears of death, loneliness and failure. And we come in contact with fear a lot. Fear is something that scares us. It is something that causes us danger. I have a confession to make about fear. When I was a child, I was fearful of someone called the “little man”. I would walk through our large house, peer around the corner and scream at the top of my lungs, “Mom, Mom, the little man, I saw him. He is following me.” My mother would come running and then assure me that there was nothing there. And I would say, “Well, I thought there was a little man following me.” This went on for months and months, years actually. I would get my little brother, who was a foot taller than me, to go upstairs first to kind of check out where we slept for the little man. Then I would go up the stairs. One day when I screamed, my mother ran into my room. I was pointing to the closet, the door was kind of cracked open, and when she opened it, there was a vacuum cleaner. Little man fear.
The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” And if you break down these enthusiasm spasms, worry, stress and fear, they have caused a large group of people to be known as Blaming Boomers. The Boomers blame their parents. They blame every one. And then we also have Generation Excuse. They use excuses and say it is because of others, because of the government, because of organized religion, etc. And spasms can paralyze and tyrannize our lives. Yet, the Bible says if we are in Christ, if we are in community with other believers, if we are in church, then we will be in God and enthusiastic. The word enthusiasm comes from two Greek terms, en, meaning in, and theos, meaning God. So enthusiasm means we are in God. Thus, believers, those of us inside the family of God should be the most enthusiastic people in the world. We have no excuse, we have no explanation, we should never get into a long-term enthusiasm spasm because of who we are. Yet now and again I forget who I am, I forget what I have and forget where I am going. Do you? I do. I want to show you Christians why you should be the most enthusiastic people around. And if you are not a Christian, this is great for you. Listen to me because you will know what will happen to you the moment you make the faith decision.
Christians, we should be enthusiastic because we have been adopted into the family of God. The Bible says that the moment I take this trust step, the moment that I receive Christ, I turn from my sins, I am adopted into the family of God. My five year old son, EJ, sings a song once a week at the dinner table. It is the chorus of a song done by Sister Sledge. “We are family, I’ve got all my sisters with me….” and then everybody will join in. You should see those kids sing with enthusiasm. They go nuts because in their little minds it is important to be a part of a family, a unit. It is important to know one another in an intimate way. As believers we can sing at the top of our lungs, we are family, because we are adopted into the family of God. The moment we are adopted into the family of God, we can never get out.
In Biblical times a husband and wife could disown a biological child but they could not disown an adopted child. I believe that is why the Holy Spirit chose the word adoption to signify what it means to become a Christian. We should also be enthusiastic because our eternity is secure. That is another good reason, isn’t it? I have got a home in heaven. The Bible says that we have got mansions in heaven. Have you read the statistics on death? They are pretty overwhelming. One out of one of us die. We spend eternity in one of two places, the Bible says, in either heaven or hell. We have a choice to make. If we are in God’s family, our eternity is secure. That should cause us to be enthusiastic.
Another reason believers should be the most enthusiastic people around is due to the fact that we have a constant companion we can relate to and talk to. His name is Jesus. A couple of years ago I spoke of the omnipresence of God. That means that God is everywhere. We can’t fake Him out. We can’t screen Him off. He is right there in our face, everywhere. As believers we have God right here around us. We should talk to Him and rely on Him and tap into His power.
So many times in my life, though, I choose not to be enthusiastic. I forget who I am, I forget what I have, I forget where I am going. I forget that I am a member of God’s family, I forget that my eternity is secure, I forget the omnipresence of God. I miss opportunities to enthuse my wife, my children, my staff and some of you because I choose not to be enthusiastic.
If you ever want to read something that will really fire you up, just thumb through the book of Philippians. The Apostle Paul wrote this inspired piece of mail, 104 verses, while he was chained to a Roman guard. Paul could have whined, he could have moaned, he could have chosen the antithesis of enthusiasm, yet he used that experience as an opportunity to write a lot of the Bible. The theme of the book of Philippians is outrageous, contagious enthusiasm and joy. Joy is mentioned fourteen times in 104 verses. How could Paul do it? Paul chose enthusiasm. Yes, Paul had enthusiasm spasms, but they didn’t last very long. I love what that great man wrote in Philippians 1:12. “What has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul is saying that what had happened to him had occurred to advance the gospel. This word advance means to progress the gospel. It is the picture of a group of men who would clear out the underbrush for an advancing army. Once the underbrush was cleared, the advancing army would proceed. What Paul said is that what had happened to him occurred so that the gospel could be preached so more people could come into the family of God. Paul chose enthusiasm.
When I read this text I thought about our church, the Fellowship of Las Colinas. God has blessed this church like few churches I have ever heard about. We are busting at the seams right now. Over the last couple of weekends we have had to turn people away. We sit hundreds on the floor Saturday night and at the 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock Sunday services. We have made an enthusiastic and I believe visionary decision that we have been thinking about and praying about for nearly three years. It is called Operation Space Jam. We are going to move our entire church beginning February 8th and 9th from the Irving Arts Center to MacArthur High School. The whole thing. We are moving Children’s Church. We are building a Nursery and PreSchool there every weekend. This is a fabulous opportunity that we have. Let me tell you the upside of this deal. We will pick up 500 more theater seats per service, a total of 2,200 more people who matter to God, who can hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ when we move. Secondly, our Nursery, PreSchool and Children’s Churches will be bigger and more secure and better run. We will have covered walkways. We will also have more parking and you have got to love that. I love that. And also we will have more time between services. We have this opportunity, beginning February 8th and 9th, to advance the gospel. We can be the ones who clear away the underbrush, this will not be an easy effort, so the gospel can be preached, so that lives can be changed, so that fragmented families can come together, so singles can see the purpose in the call of Jesus Christ. We can become a church that continues to reach people. We all have a choice, though. We can do the Starbucks thing. “Oh, boy, I’ve got to walk across the street to MacArthur High School. I don’t want to be enthusiastic. I want to remain in my comfort zone.” Or we can do the Preston Mitchell thing and say, “All right, I’m going to choose enthusiasm.” That is before us and you will be hearing more and more about it. Enthusiasm is a choice, it is intentional. That is the first I.
The second I is as important as the first. Enthusiasm is also inspirational. Enthusiasm gives us the opportunity to mark the lives of others. We are called by God to mark the lives of others. II Corinthians 9:2. “Your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.” He was referring to the Corinthians effect on the Macedonians. God says I want your enthusiasm to snap the heads of unbelievers and I want your enthusiasm to so snap their heads that they come back to you and ask where you get your enthusiasm from. Where does your joy come from? Where does that spring in the step come from? Think about it. God could have decided that the prevailing and dominant disposition of Christians be one of sobermindedness and solemnness and sadness. After all, God is the creator, we are the creatures. But God said that He wanted the prevailing attitude to be one of enthusiasm. Jesus must have had some infectious enthusiasm going on. Read the account in Matthew 4 of how He called the disciples, Peter, Andrew, James and John. These guys were hardcore fishermen. They were working with their tackle boxes and their nets and their rods and reels. Jesus said, “Follow me.” And the Bible says that they left all that stuff immediately and followed Jesus enthusiastically because they had focus, zeal, zest and a purpose. You have got to have some enthusiasm to cause a bunch of fishermen to close their tackle boxes and leave just like that. Come on now.
Enthusiasm gives you and it gives me an opportunity to mark others lives. Oftentimes, I park my truck and walk over to the Arts Center to begin another series of messages. Week in and week out I do this. And many times I feel so inadequate. I say many times, but really every time I feel so inadequate to speak a word from God. There are times when I feel down and ask God what can be done with the message at hand. I am not really feeling that enthused. Yet I will see a man or a woman in the parking crew with a smile on their face and they will give me a warm handshake and say they are praying for me. Or I will see a greeter, or I will lock eyes with one of you while I am speaking and I see God all over you and that enthuses me. That marks my life. You change my life because of your enthusiasm. I think that we have the most enthusiastic church that I have ever seen in my life. And I want to thank you for your enthusiasm because it helps me and it motivates me and God uses you in my life. Enthusiasm is inspirational. It allows us to mark the lives of others.
And also enthusiasm gives us the opportunity to move the heart of God. When I am enthusiastic, as I give my enthusiasm to God, as I worship Him through my enthusiasm, it can move His heart because God has feelings too. God laughs, God cries, God feels hurt, He goes through emotions. We are emotional creatures, we have been created in His image. If you do not believe the God is enthusiastic, just read the account of the history of God’s people, the Israelites. One minute they were bowing, the next minute they were bailing out. God always dealt with them enthusiastically. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever you do, do it with all your might.” Whether you are changing diapers, washing dishes, staring at a computer screen, whether you are giving shots or making service calls, whether you are carpooling to yet another soccer practice, whatever you do, do it with all your might. When we do that, it moves the heart of God and we are giving our worship to Him. Do you choose to enthuse? Every day, do you choose to enthuse?
Let me close with a quick homework assignment. This is something that we can all do. In fact, we do it every day, but I doubt that we think about it. All of us wake up in the morning. Correct me if I am wrong. When we get up out of bed, one of the first things that we do is we look in the mirror. I have to put my contacts on because I am as blind as a bat. But we look in the mirror. In the future before you think about brushing your teeth, flossing your teeth, combing your hair, before you shave, look at yourself in the mirror and look into your eyes. Stare into your own eyes in the mirror. When you see your eyes looking back at you, think about the theme of this message. Enthusiasm. In enthusiasm we are to make eye contact and then it should cause you to bring up the two Is of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is intentional. So as you are looking at yourself in the mirror say, “Today, I am going to choose to enthuse. I am going to make an intentional choice to give an infusion of enthusiasm to every single person I see. Not some sweet, syrupy, conjured up emotion, but true enthusiasm. Make the decision as it relates to your marriage, to your friendships, to you work. Then think about the second I. My choice to be enthusiastic can inspire others. It can help, and it is a sign of worship. It can mark peoples live and move the heart of God.
You see, with enthusiasm the Is always have it.