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CBN.com It's not easy pastoring 30,000 people, but Joel Osteen does it with a smile on his face. In the second part to this special interview, Lisa Ryan caught up with the busy Texan to talk about his positive preaching style and Lakewood's new church home.
Joel Osteen (preaching): I want to challenge you today to get out of your comfort zone. You have so much incredible potential on the inside. God has put gifts and talents in you that you probably don’t know anything about.
Lisa Ryan (reporting): Joel Osteen is called “The Smiling Preacher” – and no one wonders why. His brand of preaching is upbeat, full of hope and victory. Does it work? The 30,000 people who attend Lakewood Church in Houston think so. As do the millions who tune in to catch Osteen on TV.
Osteen’s father, John, founded Lakewood in 1959. He pastored the church for 40 years until his sudden death in ’99. Joel never wanted to preach. Never went to seminary. He loved running Lakewood’s TV ministry – from behind the scenes. When his father died, Joel sensed an overwhelming call to the Lakewood pulpit.
Joel (preaching): There is a place that God has specifically designed for you where all your needs will be supplied, where you’ll be happy and fulfilled, and where you’ll be using your gifts and talents to the full.
Lisa (reporting): Osteen’s new book, Your Best Life Now, is on the New York Times Bestseller List and has sold nearly two million copies.
Lisa: You talk in your book about having a good self-image. Is it selfish to want to have a good self-image?
Joel: I don’t think so. We are made in the image of Almighty God. [Yet we] go around not feeling good about ourselves with that weak-worm-of-the-dust mentality. So many people even talk about themselves: “You know what? I’m unattractive, my mind’s so slow, and I can’t do this.” And you know what I tell them? “God didn’t make a mistake when He made you. You need to see yourself as God sees you.”
Lisa: You spend an entire section of the book talking about letting go of the past. Is anyone too broken or too wounded to be healed?
Joel: I don’t think so. In a big church like our’s, we deal with people that have lost their children or [went through] some kind of accident -- things like that. You gotta say, “I don’t know why that happened to me, but I’m going to trust You that You’re in control anyway.” That’s what I try to encourage people with. You can live your life angry, bitter, mad at somebody or even guilty, not letting go of your own mistakes, but you won’t receive the good things God has in store.
Lisa: You talk about the benefits of adversity. How does that work for our good?
Joel: The Bible talks about how God uses difficult situations to develop our character and get us stronger. The death of my father is probably the biggest thing that I ever faced. Daddy and I were best friends. I worked with him all the time, and I thought, “How am I ever going to make it with my father gone?” But out of that darkness, out of that disappointment in my life, that’s what God used to push me into another level of victory or another level of ministry that I never knew I had.
Lisa: You say in your book that happiness is a choice regardless of our circumstances.
Joel: I see so many people say, “Well, Joel, I just don’t have a good job, or my marriage is not where it’s supposed to be.” Really it’s excuse after excuse to not be happy. To me it’s a waste. I’m going to look at what’s right and not what’s wrong in my life. I’m alive, I’m healthy, and you know, a good thing to remember is somebody’s got it a lot worse than we do.
Lisa: Do you think God is more concerned with our happiness or our holiness?
Joel: I think He’s really more concerned with our holiness. I think we need to live a holy and a Godly life. But I think when you do that, I think it all works together. You may never get to that perfect world that you’re waiting for where everything’s going to be perfect and you got that much money and your house paid off.
Lisa: Like the Walgreen’s commercial.
Joel: I know, yeah. (laughs) And you’re waiting for it, then it never comes. What a disappointment to not enjoy every day while you’re in the process of God changing you.
Lisa (reporting): Eight thousand people in a service would be plenty for most folks. But when Lakewood moves into Houston’s Compaq Center – they’ll have room for a few more.
Lisa: Joel, how many seats can you fit in here?
Joel: There’s gonna be about 16,000.
Lisa: Oh my goodness, and you’ll have no problem filling that on a Sunday.
Joel: Well, I hope not, I really feel good about it.
Lisa: Well, you’re not only doing this here, but you’re taking Lakewood on the road to other venues like this around the country, aren’t you?
Joel: We are. We’re going to do 22 different nights this year, all across America. Finally we decided to lease the big ones and thought if no one shows up, we’ll turn the lights off on top, but God just does more than we could ask or think and the places have all been full, so we’re excited about it.
Lisa: Did you ever dream that Lakewood Church would be in a facility like this?
Joel: I never did. And I grew up here, coming here as a big Rockets basketball fan, I had seats over there, sec. 104, row 5, and I saw Akeem, Larry Bird, and all those guys play here... I don’t say it arrogantly, but I believe one day they’ll be 100,000 people coming between four to five different services, and not for our glory, but I just believe church can impact the whole city, can impact the culture, so we’re just gonna believe for big things.
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