Joel Osteen Biography
Joel Osteen was born Joel Scott Osteen in Houston, Texas, United States. Osteen is a director and actor, known for Joel Osteen (1999), The Star (2017) and Jesus: His Life(2019).
He is an American pastor, televangelist, motivational speaker and author, based in Houston, Texas. However, his broadcast sermons are watched by over 7 million viewers weekly and over 20 million monthly in over 100 countries.
He is the author of ten books. Which have been ranked number one on The New York Times Best Seller list.
He was educated at public school, Humble High School, in the city of Humble, Texas where he graduated in 1981. After the latter studies, he joined Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma to study radio and television communications. However, he did not graduate hence did not receive a degree from a divinity school.
In 1982, Osteen went back to Houston and founded Lakewood’s television program. In this broadcast, he produced his father’s televised sermons for 17 years until January 1999, when his father died unexpectedly from a heart attack.
Joel Osteen Birthday | Age
Osteen was born on March 5, 1963, in Houston, Texas, United States. He is 56 years of age as of 2019.
Joel Osteen Family
Osteen is one of six children born to John Osteen and Dolores (“Dodie”) Pilgrim in Houston, Texas. His father, John, is a former Southern Baptist pastor and founder of Lakewood Church (of which Osteen is the current senior pastor) in the back of an old feed store.
His older siblings, Paul, Lisa, and Tamara, and his younger sister, April, are also part of the full-time ministry. His step-brother Justin lives in New York where he does missionary work.
Joel Osteen Marriage|Kids
Osteen married Lakewood Church co-pastor Victoria Osteen (née Iloff) on April 4, 1987.
Together with his wife, the couple has two kids, a son, and a daughter.
Joel Osteen Residence | House
He lives with his family in a 17,000 square-foot mansion in River Oaks, with an estimated value of $10.5 million.
Joel Osteen Political And Social Views
Osteen has generally avoided discussing controversial issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and politics. However, when asked, Osteen said that he is opposed to same-sex marriage.
Osteen refuses to preach about homosexuality due to his belief that God likes, accepts, and approves of all people. When asked if he thought God approves of homosexuality, Osteen said homosexuality is a sin according to the Scripture, but gay people are welcome in his church.
He has said sin is human nature, nobody’s perfect, and he is not judging, but God is the judge.
Osteen has also stated he believes a person can be freed from a lifestyle of homosexuality; it is a process and God can free anyone of any sin or addiction. Osteen has also stressed he does not approve of homophobia, but his faith is based on his reading of the Scriptures.
He has said the church has a tendency to become overly focused on single issues (such as homosexuality) to the point of neglecting others.
In an interview on Fox News in 2008 during the Republican Party Presidential primary race, when discussing whether he thought that Mormons were Christians, Osteen indicated that he believed that they were. He further revealed that he had not studied religion.
In an interview in 2011, Osteen stated his support for Israel.
Joel Osteen Prosperity Gospel Criticism
Osteen’s sermons and writings are sometimes criticized for promoting prosperity theology, or the prosperity gospel, a belief that the reward of material gain is the will of God for all pious Christians.
On October 14, 2007, a twelve-minute segment on Osteen, titled “Joel Osteen Answers his Critics” was run on the 60 Minutes program. It was in this presentation where Reformed theologian Michael Horton told CBS News correspondent Byron Pitts that Osteen’s message is heresy.
Horton stated that the irrelevance of Osteen’s message is that it makes religion all about us instead of about God.
When asked if he is a prosperity teacher, Osteen responded that if prosperity means God wants people to be blessed and healthy and have good relationships, then he considers himself a prosperity teacher, but if it is about money, he does not. He has specifically stated that he never preaches about money because of the reputation of televangelists.
In an interview with The Christian Post on April 21, 2013, Joel expressed his stand on being perceived as part of the prosperity gospel.
“I get grouped into the prosperity gospel and I never think it’s fair, but it’s just what it is. I think prosperity, and I’ve said it 1,000 times, it’s being healthy, it’s having great children, it’s having peace of mind. Money is part of it; and yes, I believe God wants us to excel … to be blessed so we can be a bigger blessing to others.Christian Post Interview
I feel very rewarded. I wrote a book and sold millions of copies, and Victoria and I were able to help more people than we ever dreamed of. But when I hear the term prosperity gospel, I think people are sometimes saying, ‘Well, he’s just asking for money’.”Christian Post Interview
Joel Osteen Controversies
Hurricane Harvey Response
During the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, Osteen received significant criticism for not making Lakewood Church, a 606,000-square-foot, 16,000-seat former basketball arena, available as an emergency shelter for those displaced by the storm.
On August 27, posts from the church and a Lakewood Church associate pastor’s social media accounts stated that the church was “inaccessible due to severe flooding”.
Osteen countered the claim that floodwaters closed the church, saying
“the church has been open from the beginning”, and, “We’ve always been open … How this notion got started, that we’re not a shelter and we’re not taking people in is a false narrative.”
This contradicted his earlier statement that the church would open when other refugee centers were full.
In a subsequent interview, Lakewood spokesperson Don Iloff stated that the building itself had been flooded during the weekend, with water getting close to spilling over the facility’s floodgate. Taking in a crowd of storm evacuees would have been unsafe, although Iloff maintained that the church’s doors were never closed.
He also stated that pictures supposedly showing Lakewood free of flooding were taken on Monday after the floodwaters had lowered.
On the evening of August 28, it was announced by Lakewood that it would open at noon the next day as an available shelter, opening to storm victims and emergency personnel on August 29.
On August 15, 2018, less than a year after Harvey struck, the City of Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed a day in honor of Lakewood and Osteen’s assistance in rebuild efforts across the Houston area.
It stated Lakewood and its pastors have provided “assistance to more than 1,150 Houston-area families. Whose homes were damaged or destroyed by floodwaters” and bought “1.1 million dollars in building materials, furniture, appliances, and paid labor. As well as through the contribution of more than 2,500 volunteers”.
In 2011, Osteen and Lakewood Church were sued by the band The American Dollar for copyright issues. A judge in 2012 ruled in favor of Osteen but gave The American Dollar leave to amend the case.
Joel Osteen Books
Osteen’s first book, Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, was launched in October 2004 and rose to number 1 position on The New York Times Best Seller list.
He wrote his second book, Become a Better You: 7 Keys to Improving Your Life Every Day, in October 2007. It also ranked highest on The New York Times Best Seller list and had a first printing of four million copies. Osteen has stated that the book focuses more on relationships and not getting stuck where we are in life.
Joel Osteen Career
Osteen’s father had encouraged him to preach for many years with failure. However, Joel preferred working behind the scenes until January 17, 1999, when he accepted his father’s suggestion and he preached his first sermon.
Unfortunately, his dad, John Osteen died six days later of a heart attack. Two weeks after his father’s death, Osteen embarked on preaching regularly. Moreover, later that year, Joel was installed as the new senior pastor of Lakewood Church on October 3, 1999. Since then, Lakewood’s attendance has grown from 5,000 to 43,000.
In 2003, Lakewood Church bought the Compaq Center, former home of the NBA Houston Rockets.
Renovating the new church cost them $105 million. These renovations took over 15 months to complete and included the addition of five stories for more capacity. Lakewood’s 2005 mega opening was attended by an estimated 56,000 people, inclusive of Texas Governor Rick Perry and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Lakewood Church services are watched in over 100 countries. He was nominated by Barbara Walters as one of her 10 Most enchanting People of 2006. Former US presidential candidate John McCain described Joel as his favorite inspirational author.
His family attended Easter breakfast hosted by President Barack Obama at the White House in 2010.
Osteen’s sermon preparation involves memorizing his remarks and listening to himself on tape.
Joel explains that he focuses more on the goodness of God and on living an obedient life rather than on sin. He says that he tries to express Biblical principles in a simple way. Moreover, he emphasizing the power of love and a positive attitude.
In an interview with CBN News when he was asked why he does not focus more on sin, the devil and hell in detail, Osteen stated;
When I grew up, the devil was a reason why I had a headache or the devil was the reason I got mad today. We always blamed the devil. I think today when I say the enemy, I like to make it broader. Sometimes the enemy can be our own thoughts. We’ve trained ourselves the wrong way.
Or the enemy can be our own lack of discipline. Some people preach about hell like you’re already going there, and to me the Gospel means ‘Good News.’ I’d rather say God is a God of mercy. So I think the people already know what they’re doing wrong, and I certainly believe in hell.
But to me, when I see thousands of people before me, it just doesn’t come out of me to say, ‘You guys are terrible, and you’re going to hell.’ I’d rather say that God is a God of mercy. You’ve got to live an obedient life, but for every mistake you’ve made, there’s mercy there, and I believe we can do better.
Joel Osteen Net Worth
Osteen’s 2017 net worth has been reported to be between $40–60 million. However, as the church senior pastor, Joel Osteen says he draws no salary from the church. Despite the church having an annual budget of $70 million, he relies on income from book sales.