"You know, our message is about lifting people up, helping them fulfill their destiny, helping them to forgive in a tough time, how to make it through this life when life tries to push you down."
- Joel Osteen on why he avoids controversial issues, like sin, wrath, repentance...
No, we're not calling J-O a Christian leader, but many megachurch pastors are either silent or echoing these sentiments.
Christian Post reports: Joel Osteen on Why He Avoids Political, Social Issues: 'It's Not What I'm Called to Do;' Says Message Is 'Lifting People Up'
Joel Osteen, the popular 52-year-old leader of America's largest protestant church, Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, bluntly revealed that the reason why he avoids speaking out on hot button social and political issues, such as same-sex marriage, is because he believes that's not what he's called to do as a pastor.
In a recent interview on WBUR's "Here & Now" radio program Osteen, who was asked if he felt these hot button social and political issues are important, said: "I think they are important but I think everybody has their own calling."
He further explained that "It's not what I'm called to do."
"I have friends who are very political. They're pastors and that's what their thing is. But I think sometimes, that the church world, we can take one issue and make it really, really big and it can turn people off where there are many bigger issues. That's why I don't like to be defined by one thing," said Osteen last Monday.
"You know, our message is about lifting people up, helping them fulfill their destiny, helping them to forgive in a tough time, how to make it through this life when life tries to push you down," he added.
Osteen emphasized that the biggest issues facing people he ministers to are concentrated in the marital, relationship and health arenas. One of the reasons that his church continues to grow while others lose members, he said, is because he focuses on the everyday issues affecting people rather than focusing on the controversial ones.
In a 2013 interview Osteen gave a similar response to Katie Couric on why he focuses on "everyday life issues" instead of controversial ones.
"I want them to know that God's good, that they can move forward, that they can break an addiction, that they can become who God's created them to be," he said.
When asked about the "prosperity gospel" that he preaches, Osteen said he didn't like the term. "What it connotates is that you just talk about money," he said. "I don't do that, I don't do that on purpose because so many people are skeptical of TV preachers to begin with."
He added: "Prosperity is having good relationships, having peace in your mind, being able to sleep at night. But I do believe God wants you to be blessed. He wants you to excel in your career. He wants you to go further than your parents. There's a tradition that says you're supposed to take a vow of poverty if you're going to be a Christian, but I don't believe that."