In His New Book, The World-Famous Minister Encourages The Faithful To Focus On The Positive
By Judy Latta / Photography courtesy of Lakewood Church
How you think is how you live.” That is the practical advice Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen offers in his new book, Think Better, Live Better: A Victorious Life Begins in Your Mind.
His inspirational book, released in October, encourages readers to think positively in order to improve their lives. Like each of his other national best-selling books, Think Better, Live Better exemplifies Joel’s philosophy on preaching and life, focusing on inspirational messages and urging the faithful to stay positive and rejoice in the goodness of God. The book provides encouragement for anyone struggling with negativity and disappointment, offering them hope for a better life.
In Think Better, Live Better, Joel says, “Our mind is like a computer. How we program it is the way it’s going to function. You can have the most powerful computer ever made, the latest and fastest model, with the maximum amount of memory available, but if you put the wrong software in it, it’s not going to function as it was designed.”
He continues, “In a similar way, when God created you, He stepped back and said, ‘Another masterpiece.’ Your hardware is perfect.” Joel says that God hardwires us to be victorious, healthy, strong and creative. However, some people allow “viruses” such as self-doubt, negativity and low self-esteem to contaminate their thinking. The good news is that we can be re-programmed to eliminate the negativity in our lives. In keeping with his computer metaphor, Joel advises readers that when negative thoughts creep into your psyche, “just hit delete before they start affecting how you live.”
Where The Legacy Began
Joel Osteen was raised in Houston, one of six children of the popular minister John Osteen and his wife, Dodie. John was founder of Lakewood Church, which he started in an abandoned feed store on the outskirts of Houston on Mother’s Day, 1959. Through the years, John, a caring and pragmatic pastor with a strong vision, determination and fortitude, grew Lakewood into a congregation of around 5,000, attracting people of all ages, religious backgrounds, races, and socioeconomic status. In addition, John and Dodie developed ministry outreach programs that served the Houston community and eventually extended around the world.
Although Joel was encouraged by his parents to follow in his father’s footsteps to preach, as a young man he was more interested in pursuing a career in broadcasting. After high school, he attended Oral Roberts University to study radio and television communications. He returned to Houston in 1982 to launch and produce a television program to broadcast his father’s sermons. In 1989 he met Houston native Victoria Iloff at her family’s jewelry store, and a year and a half later they were married. Victoria, also a devout Christian, quickly became involved with Lakewood and began taking mission trips to minister in some of the most impoverished areas around the world. Joel and Victoria have two children, Jonathan and Alexandra, who both serve in the ministry with them.
A Calling Answered
When John Osteen passed away in 1999, Joel took over as Lakewood’s senior pastor. He says that prior to his father’s death, he never dreamed he would become a minister. “Just 17 years ago, I was running cameras and doing production,” he says. Since that time, Joel, Victoria and their leadership team, made up predominantly of family members, have grown Lakewood into the largest church in the United States.
In 2003, Lakewood Church acquired the Compaq Center from the Houston Rockets and renovated it into a worship mega-center. The first week the new church was open, the congregation added more than 10,000 new members. Within a year Lakewood had become the most popular tourist destination in Houston, according to the Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. Joel says that he never envisioned that kind of expansion for the church when he stepped in as pastor. “The growth has been amazing,” he says. “And we want to stay open to new growth. We want to be open to touching more people.”
Today, each week more than 50,000 people attend services at Lakewood. According to Nielsen Media, Joel’s uplifting sermons are seen on television or over the Internet by more than 10 million Americans every week, and his sermons are broadcast in more than 100 different countries. Christians and non-Christians alike flock to Lakewood and Joel’s broadcasts due to his warm, humble demeanor and his ability to relate to people with his optimistic and encouraging messages.
“More than ever, there is a need for hope across our nation,” he says. “People respond when you tell them about what they can become rather than what they’re doing wrong. My gift is to uplift people and show them that through God, there is hope for whatever they’re going through.”
In 2004, Joel and Victoria began travelling around the world to present their Night of Hope events — gatherings where they worship and share their uplifting messages on the road with live audiences. In 2014, Sirius XM introduced Joel Osteen Radio which broadcasts the inspirational sermons of Joel and Victoria 24 hours a day. Additionally, Joel Osteen Ministries engages in community outreach, regionally, nationally and internationally, delivering food, clothing and medical supplies to the needy and running vaccination programs, abandoned baby centers, centers for troubled teens and more.
As senior pastor, Joel draws no salary from Lakewood. He supports his family with the proceeds of his very successful books, which focus on the positive, and inspirational lessons on which he bases his weekly sermons. In 2008, Victoria wrote her first book, Love Your Life, which reached No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list. She has also written several uplifting Christian children’s books and founded the Victoria Osteen Child Literacy Program.
Think Better, Live Better or any of the other books written by Joel or Victoria can be ordered from joelosteen.com.
Coming Up At Lakewood
Lakewood Church is located at 3700 Southwest Freeway in Houston. Information on services, events and classes, as well as links for online broadcasts can be found at lakewoodchurch.com. The Lakewood team is also preparing for the second annual M3 (Mobilizing Medical Missions) Conference, which will take place Feb. 17-18 at Lakewood Church. This conference, led by Dr. Paul Osteen (Joel’s brother), is for doctors, nurses, dentists and other healthcare professionals who have a desire to use their skills to make a difference addressing global health needs. Information and registration can be found at m3missions.com.