Pastor Joel Osteen attracted an impressive 50,000 people to New York City’s Yankee Stadium Saturday for his “A Night of Hope” event, speaking with TheBlaze the day before about how he handles controversial issues, his recent meeting with Pope Francis, and his views on Christian unity.
Osteen, pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, recently made headlines when he said that gay marriage is “against the rules,” but that he doesn’t want his Christian ministry defined by his stance on the issue.
“I think the challenge for me that you have to overcome is they want to go to the hot button issues and for some people, that’s not what my ministry’s about or what I’m about,” Osteen told TheBlaze. “It’s just not my focus, so for me it’s easy for me to walk away from an interview and for people to think, ‘That’s just the guy who’s against gays or against some other hot button issue.’”
He continued, “I try to express myself in a way — ‘Here’s what I believe the scripture says, but it also says love God, love every person, love your neighbor.’ So I just try to find that balance.”
Recognizing that there are those on both sides of an issue like gay marriage who would take issue with his response, Osteen defended his handling of the contentious issue and the general positive flow he embraces in his preaching style.
“I’d rather get criticized for who I am … this is just who I am,” he added. “This is the path I’m supposed to take.”
Osteen said there’s “not a mean bone” in his body and that he’s not “against anybody.” He said he defends his stance on scripture and realizes the older he gets that he can’t try to make everyone believe the same way he does, though he can share and defend his views on the Bible.
As for the challenges of preaching to a massive congregation — Lakewood Church boasts more than 40,000 members — Osteen said that keeping his sermons fresh is one of the most difficult issues he faces in ministry.
“I take about three days to prepare,” he said. He uses Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to put his sermon together and spends Saturday reviewing it.
Osteen added that maintaining personal health is another struggle.
“You’ve got to take time to be spiritually healthy, mentally and spiritually as well,” he said.
But he contended that the benefits of a national ministry far outweigh the negatives, noting that he’s especially encouraged when he hears the church has touched and changed lives.
“There’s different approaches,” he said. “I just know that my gift is encouragement, hopefully to uplift people.”
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SOURCE: The Blaze