Joel Osteen, senior pastor of America’s largest church, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, is seen every week by millions of people who watch his inspirational messages on TV or connect with his ministry through his digital platforms.
Osteen, 59, is also a no. 1 New York Times bestselling author — and his newest book, “Your Greater Is Coming: Discover the Path to Your Bigger, Better, and Brighter Future” (FaithWords) — has just been released.
Like many of his works, this one shares inspiration for people of all walks of life — particularly on the topic of overcoming setbacks and not allowing difficulties to throw people off their purpose.
“Every one of us has faced setbacks in life,” Osteen told Fox News Digital exclusively. “But the good news is, we don’t have to stay there.”
Osteen has encountered his own challenges. He’s spoken often of how he lost his father suddenly in January 1999 — and, after that great loss, felt pushed to preach in church, something his dad had done with ease for many years.
Pastor Joel Osteen joined Fox Nation’s “Ainsley’s Bible Study” earlier this year to share thoughts during the Easter season. (Fox News)
But the younger Osteen had long resisted requests to do so and always felt more comfortable in a background role.
Finally, he was forced into it — and had to find his way and his own style, which he ultimately did.
Three years ago, Kanye West appeared with Osteen at Lakewood Church — in an appearance that Lauren Green of Fox News called “a meeting of two megastars, the preacher and the rapper, coming together in a sanctuary that’s a converted arena, once home to the Houston Rockets … But it, too, now works for God.”
Kanye West appeared with Joel Osteen at Lakewood Church a few years back, in a “meeting of two megastars, the preacher and the rapper …”
Last year, a Texas plumber said he found cash in a wall in Lakewood Church — and said he was “upset” no one from the church contacted him. The Houston police said the money was in connection to a 2014 robbery at the church, where $200,000 in cash and $400,000 in checks had been stolen from a safe.
Fox News Digital, via email, asked Osteen about overcoming setbacks today — especially as so many Americans, on the heels of the COVID pandemic, are now also struggling to cope with drastically higher prices, crime in their cities, job challenges, mental health issues and more.
Joel Osteen and his wife, Victoria Osteen, are the parents of two children and both are involved in ministry at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. (Joel Osteen/Lakewood Church)
His responses are included here.
Fox News Digital: You fervently believe we can all rebound from setbacks. What are some of the key ways you believe we can do this?
Joel Osteen: Our God is a God of redemption and second chances. There are some things that happen to us that we are never going to understand this side of heaven.
So, I always tell people, “Don’t spend your time trying to answer all the whys of life.” Instead, practice five things: be patient, change your focus, shift your thinking, see the bigger picture — and be open to something new.
“It can often feel like the difficult season is never going to end, but God promises us that it will.”
Q: Let’s talk about that first one, “Be patient.” Sometimes that’s quite hard to do and not even practical for people. Why do you recommend this?
Osteen: It can be extremely difficult in the moment, but I encourage people to be patient — wait and rest on God’s promises. Wait for His ordained timing.
And this I can say from experience: If you push hard enough and force an opportunity that may not be right for you, sometimes God will allow you to walk that road that isn’t His best path.
So, it’s always best to be patient and wait on the Lord.
Another thing I’d add is that a tremendous amount of growth happens while we wait. It’s during periods of waiting that we must fully rely on the Lord.
If we are receptive, we can learn so much and really prepare for the next season that God has for us. It can often feel like the difficult season is never going to end, but God promises us that it will.
The psalmist says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Cling to that promise!
Joel Osteen’s newest book is “Your Greater Is Coming” (FaithWords). It’s been published this month. (Joel Osteen/Lakewood Church)
Q: What else do you advise for people who are facing setbacks?
Osteen: I advise people to change their focus, especially when they’re in tough times. Because it’s during the times that you can either talk about how big the problem is — or talk about how big your God is.
This is an important one. It’s easy to let the dark clouds of depression overwhelm us when life deals us with multiple challenges. Our focus tends to be directed toward our circumstance, rather than the greatness of our God.
“Remember your pain is not in vain — it’s an investment into a greater future that will result in greater victories.”
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”
It’s not how we are programmed to react to difficulty — but doing this is a game changer.
I recommend writing this phrase down: “Your greater is coming.” Keep it on your desk or your bathroom mirror or on your refrigerator — and look at it often.
It’s a strong reminder of where to keep your focus. Despite the suffering you may be experiencing — your glory is coming. Also, remember your pain is not in vain. it’s an investment into a greater future that will result in greater victories.
Q: You advise people to “shift their thinking.” Why do you suggest this, and how can people “shift their thinking”?
Osteen: Proverbs 4:23 says, “Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life.” That’s a powerful idea.
Think about that! Dealing with struggles can result in a feeling of hopelessness and despair. But it’s imperative that we don’t allow ourselves to go there.
Joel Osteen preaches during a church service. “The battle to overcome a setback is so often in our mindset,” he told Fox News Digital. (Reuters)
The battle to overcome a setback is so often in our mindset. Our minds will often bury negative thoughts such as, “Nothing happened when I prayed. I’ll never get well. I’ve struggled with this for years.”
When these thoughts occur, it’s vital to fight them off and not believe those lies.
There are so many instances of people beating cancer and other serious illnesses because of their faith and being intentional about their thoughts — they are the source of true life!
“When I look back over my life, I now see that the most difficult seasons were the very thing I needed to get me where I needed to go.”
Q: In your book, you recommend that people “see the bigger picture.” How so?
Osteen: This one is about perspective. No matter how severe your setback is, God has you in the palm of His hand. He loves you and wants to protect you.
When I look back over my life, I now see that the most difficult seasons were the very thing I needed to get me where I needed to go.
When facing a setback that seems insurmountable, you may be concerned that it will keep you down for good. Instead, the struggle is there for you to achieve bigger and better things.
Be good to yourself, be kind to yourself, be merciful to yourself, be forgiving of yourself. You’re good to others; be good to you.— Joel Osteen (@JoelOsteen) October 9, 2022
Tune into Joel’s message today, "Stay Positive Toward Yourself"! https://t.co/KpspxxmVCB pic.twitter.com/zeafgKIIj4
God desires the best for us — and He wants to take us to another level. The setback that shook you will be the catalyst to accomplish goals greater than you can possibly imagine in the future.
Q: What other recommendations do you have for people as they face challenges or setbacks? Today there are plenty — that’s for sure.
Osteen: I say, Be open to something new. Whether it’s losing a job or dealing with a health issue, setbacks can often look debilitating. But if life stayed consistently at the same level, we would never reach our full potential.
During the COVID pandemic, the stability that everyone was accustomed to suddenly was threatened.
With the world becoming stagnant, there were many people who took the opportunity to pursue new journeys and embrace passions that they were unable to pursue — or even think of — prior to that.
So I believe that if you keep the right attitude, your setback can push you into something new and better.
Isaiah 43: 19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Joel Osteen’s new book, “Your Greater Is Coming,” is available on his website (www.joelosteen.com) and wherever books are sold.