New Hope Notes

Defining Moments

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
April 6, 2008 - W0814

The richest places in the world – gold mines – are in the graves because that’s where you’ll find best-selling books that weren’t ever written, the greatest concerto that wasn’t composed, and life-changing dreams that were never pursued.  Today we want to talk about this…what’s inside all of us…potential – the potential to be a hero.


In every one of us, there’s a hero – maybe not a hero to millions like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Billy Graham, but a hero to one…a child with cancer or a single mother who needs help.  There are defining moments in everyone’s life when a decision or choice that they make can make a significant difference in someone’s life.


At those defining moments in life, our future is held in trust.  The choices we make in those moments will either impede our futures or release it.  Intuitively, you may think the toughest defining moments come when you’re at your lowest points; however, I’d actually suggest that the toughest defining moments are not when you’re in the valley but rather when your life has plateaued – when you’re asking yourself, “Is that it?  Is that all there is?”


When you’ve plateaued and you feel like you’ve done all that you can do or you’ve gotten as much as you’re going to get out of this life, that will be one of your most critical defining moments.  If you settle at that plateau, you’ll end up taking all of your unfulfilled dreams with you to the grave.  People who settle for “that’s all there is” end up staying where they are and never realizing their full potential, there God-given potential.


The Bible is full of examples of people who plateaued – of people who faced a season where it looked like they had done all that they could and that it would’ve been easy to just let things pass on by.  Job faced a season where he plateaued and it was unsure what was in store for him.  Moses plateaued and faced a season of discouragement when he could’ve just given up and lived status quo.  Joseph plateaued when he was in jail and he could’ve just served out the rest of his time there.  Even Jesus plateaued as we saw Him in the Garden of Getsemany.


When we plateau, we have a tendency to ask wrong questions like, “Is that it?” or “How did I end up here?”  We tend to focus on the wrong thing and ask the wrong questions.  This reminds me of an article I read in Dear Abby, the advice column, about the questions/ones that Dear Abby couldn’t answer.   Here are some samples:


“I don’t know if I can trust my boyfriend.  After all, I don’t even know if the baby I’m carrying is his!”

“Birth control is getting so expensive!  I think I should ask my boyfriend to pay for some of it but I don’t know him well enough to discuss money with him.”

“Should I believe my boyfriend?  I confronted him and he denied everything…and he said it’ll never happen again.”


It’s amazing how people don’t get it sometimes and just ask the wrong questions!  Well let me encourage you to ask the right questions and not settle where you shouldn’t be…


“Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai, and his grandson Lot and left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan.  But they stopped instead at the village of Haran and settled there. 


Notice the phrase, “…and settled there.”  Terah and his family stopped in Haran; Haran was a defining moment.  We all have places like Haran where we hesitate and determine whether we’ll stop for a while.  An example of that in relationships is when someone asks themselves, “Is s/he ‘good enough’?”  Rather than wait for the “right” person or someone that you know God would be pleased with, they settle for ‘good enough’.  Remember that the richest spot on earth is a graveyard based on all the potential buried there.


“…Then the Lord told Abram, ‘Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you.’  So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed him, and Lot went with him.  Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran” (Gen. 11:31-12:4). 


In this passage, the Lord urges Abram to continue on.  Have you ever stopped before you’re done when you know there’s farther to go?  Every one of us has.  Every one of us will stop in Haran.  Don’t stop at the halfway point.  Don’t settle in Haran!  Think about this:  the reason you’re alive today is because God’s not done with you yet.  Don’t stop!  Get off of that plateau and continue on.  Don’t contribute to the graveyards of “what could have been.”


How do you get off of that plateau?  Well the first thing is…





Imagine what you can accomplish or do.  What can you give to make a difference?   Who can you talk to or get to know and have a positive affect on?


I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.” (Joel 2:28)


What this passage confirms is…



...and to pursue those dreams.  “Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran” (Gen. 2:4).



“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). 


You may think you don’t have enough energy to succeed, but think of it this way…you may never be all that you dream to be but you’ll never be anything if you don’t dream (and try)!  Your potential is like a diamond which gets buried and pushed deeper below the surface if you sit on a plateau and let the elements pile up around you.  However, when you dream, your dreams and your faith bring that potential to the surface.


“The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17). 


How can we just our faith and dreams help to uncover the diamond that is our potential?




Just start learning again.  For example, read – not for entertainment really but rather read something that stimulates your mind.


You know, God asked Adam to name all the animals He created.  That’s quite an assignment!  But God also gave man [Adam] an unlimited capacity to learn.  Children have that same natural capacity to learn – especially languages.  For a child, learning is an expression of curiosity.  However, for an adult, learning is an expression of humility.






Learning becomes much more difficult when you’re older because you’re much more rigid and less pliable.  As we get older, pride settles in.  We look at situations, or even people, and questions whether (or if) that person or situation has anything that it can teach us.  As you age, you keep learning however you apply it less and less.  It’s like we settle in Haran and stop learning.


You need to remember this:



“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet. 5:6).


When you’re a kid, humility was developed for you – by the guidance, correction, and counsel of your parents and such.  But when you’re older, it is not.  You need to develop humility on purpose.  We need to purposely develop humility to be open to learning.  If our pride stands in the way, we’re subject to coming to wrong conclusions.


“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet. 5:6).

If you do, you’ll start to dream again.  And do you know what else?




Humility brings the ability to learn and then transform. 


“We…are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory…” (2 Cor. 3:18).


There’s a hero in each of us.  We may not be heroes to millions but each of us can be a hero to someone…a child in need or someone who just needs a shoulder to cry on.  We will all have defining moments in our lives when our decisions will greatly impact our futures or the futures of others around us.  Those defining moments may not necessarily be dramatic moments; but rather, I would suggest that the quiet moments – ones where we’ve plateaued and may be asking ourselves, “Is that all?” or “What next?” – may in fact be the more difficult defining moments.


In those times, we need to not give up but to begin dreaming again because the bigger we dream, the bigger we tend to live.  In order to be open to the learning that goes hand-in-hand with pursuing our dreams, we need to purposely develop and practice humility.  In turn, that humility will allow God to work in our lives and transform us from glory to glory in His image.  Through His grace (and our perseverance), we will be able to fully exercise the potential that He has placed in us, and if done so to the fullest of our abilities, we will enrich the lives of others and heaven rather than add to the gold mines of the graves.





1.      What dreams did you have as a child?  What spurred those dreams and what happened to them?


2.      What dreams did you have for your life that you have since let go?  Why did you let them go?


3.      What are you doing to foster open-mindedness and learning in your life today?  What can you do to encourage more of it for yourself and others?


4.      What parts do pride and humility play in your life?


5.      How can you purposely develop or increase humility?  How do you think increased humility will affect you?  Could there be a transformation?  How so?