Much to my surprise, I learned something from Joel Osteen…
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably seen & heard the uproar about megachurch tele-evangelist, Joel Osteen, and his Houston based church, Lakewood. They said they were experiencing flooding themselves, and weren’t taking in people until all the other Houston shelters were full. What they failed to do was release a more precise statement before social media gathered together to bully him…including myself.
Now I’m not a huge fan of Joel Osteen or any tele-evangelist (though my perspective has changed a bit which we will talk about soon). I don’t agree with the “prosperity” gospel mindset where you ask God to give you everything and expect it to happen with very little to no work. I do believe in Christians being prosperous, but I’ll save that for another blog…
The minute I found out his massive church wasn’t opening their doors right away, I tweeted to him out of anger.
It’s not my proudest moment. I let my emotions lead before logic…the same way majority of us did. We all began to start pinning him down and their church for not living out the gospel right away. Then I began to reflect and it taught me a few things.
Did We Consider the Details?
Why couldn’t a space or a ministry that holds 16,000 people help as quickly as I would? Perhaps a similar reason as to why Houston officials advised not to evacuate. The chaos and uncertainty of how people would respond could potentially cause more damage. We didn’t think about how people could get there when the highways surrounding it were all flooded. We didn’t think about the volunteers they’d need to organize and manage not only supplies but also people. We didn’t consider the manpower needed to get a massive shelter up & running within 24/hrs with or without the help of the city. We didn’t consider if the city had reached out to Osteen about being a shelter or if Osteen even considered offering it before the storm. What about the minimal flooding that was in part of their building? Could it have been a minor safety issue? There are many variables many of us didn’t consider.
The mistake Joel & the church made was NOT addressing these concerns upfront and immediately and they should have reached out to their city before the storm hit to see if their space could be used as a shelter. Something more than a tweet on prayer should have been addressed the minute flooding in that city was happening. It shouldn’t take the outpouring anger of social media to push things forward. Some social media sleuths even went to the church to examine the “flooding” they were experiencing, which was very little outside compared to the damage the church had shared. It’s easy though to let our emotions get a hold of us before we consider all these details and it’s even easier for us to pin harsh judgement on someone who has way more wealth than we can imagine at this time, which brings me to my next thought…
Being rich as a Christian isn’t a sin
Many people, including myself, have an issue with Osteen & tele-evangelist. I know for me partially it’s from his messages and the idea of the “prosperity” gospel being taught again and again. The other part of me thinks naturally many of us assume that because Jesus was poor therefore we should be poor and not have wealth, so when we see people who have more than we can imagine at this time in our lives, we get jealous and really question the intent of that person.
Until I personally met tele-evangelist Joyce Meyer and I saw what her ministry was doing, I judged her quickly too. I couldn’t wrap my head around how so many people connected with her and how she could have all this money! Then I met her, I met some of her team, I met one of her great friends, John Maxwell (someone I had looked up to since high school) and I saw a whole new side of a ministry I never knew. **Now, I had trouble finding Osteen’s financial report online, but hers is available here.
Having wealth isn’t a sin. Having money isn’t a sin. In fact, God wants us to have more than we imagined that we may do good with it. The bible does specifically say not to worship or idolize money, that’s where it can get bad. I’ve only began to break from a “poverty” mindset in this last year while doing coaching with Sandi Krakowski. I want to be rich, not for the sake of having fancy cars or a huge house, or whatever millionaires do these days LOL, but for the sake that I can adopt many kids debt-free and raise them in a loving home, so I can shelter those who need it, so I can help provide multiple ways to minister to those who need it most. The more you have, the more you have to give, but in the meantime I do what I can with what I’m given.
All this to say, we all know Joel has money. We know he has a huge following. We know he’s famous. It’s obvious from his home. He sells books, tapes, etc that he profits from outside of his church salary. Why is it as Christians, and even non-believers, we want to see where the money of wealthy Christians go? Can you imagine if we did that to each other all the time?
The only thing we can do now from where we are at is ask him to share what he’s doing to further Heaven on Earth with his finances especially when crucial times like this hit. We can challenge him if he’s being a good steward of his money. But for those of us who aren’t in a place of wealth yet, we need to focus on ourselves and how we can make a difference with what we have because, famous or not, people are noticing what we do.
People are watching the Church
The hot topic between my atheist/agnostic friends and I typically is, “Why would a loving God who created this Earth give us natural disasters only to wipe us out?” to which I believe is a result from both man & God, but again, that’s for another time…
In times where natural disasters hit, the world is watching, but in our communities, most people expect the church, mosques, temples, and whatever religions preach charity to step up the most. That’s exactly what happened here and where their church missed the ball.
Like I said above, more should have been said then “we’re praying”?especially when your social status and church is soooooo large. I can totally see why people have been let down. Even Mexico offered to send aid to Houston! I haven’t seen Lakewood openly talk about their donations or what they’re doing to help besides them asking for more donations & supplies now to be dropped off.
For those who are reading this and aren’t Christians, what took place the last 48hours isn’t great representation of the church and I am sorry your expectations weren’t met. I too was let down the minute I heard their doors weren’t open after the floods & that Osteen hadn’t even offered his home to members or the community. Please don’t compare the famous status of one church to all Christians in America. But, please know, there were other smaller churches in Houston who dove right away to help and if you look on Facebook you’ll see many videos, photos, and stories of people helping each other out and people from all over the country who are sending in supplies and money to help. That in the most generous form is the real church: people loving and sacrificing their lives for one another.
For those of us who are Christians, the world is watching.?They want what we believe in to match our lives. They’re ready to point and persecute the minute things go wrong to prove there isn’t a God or truth. But they also want to see why we believe in what we believe in so passionately. Crazy how that works right?
In the end, what took place this week with Joel & the church can be a massive lesson for all of us if we are wiling to get past our hatred and judgement towards him. We can learn from each other’s testimonies and failures.
Speaking of giving, I refuse to give to the Red Cross (they are horrible with their finances). I went to Haiti after the large earthquake and I saw what Red Cross did compared to Convoy of Hope + Mission of Hope Haiti and I was astonished. What COH & MOH did was SO MUCH MORE than Red Cross (and Red Cross literally gets MILLIONS). Please consider donating to Convoy of Hope. They are in Houston now and sharing what they are doing ?on social so you can see where your money is going!