The Power of Favor
with Joel Osteen
Q: You’re known all over the world for sharing encouraging messages that spark hope in life’s most difficult moments. What role did your parent’s play in building the strong foundation of faith you have today?
A: When my mother and father started Lakewood in 1959, they had big dreams, they wanted to reach around the world with the gospel. The church was small for many years, but I saw my parents be faithful with what God had given them. In return, I saw how God honored their prayers and their faithfulness throughout the years. If it wasn’t for my parent’s faith, we wouldn’t be in the church building we’re in today. We’re reaching people around the world with our ministry, but it’s because of the faith of my parents and the seeds they planted. Another time, when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, the doctor only gave her a few weeks to live. She and my father prayed, along with our family and many other people. I believe if my mother and father had not had the strong faith that God would heal her, she wouldn’t be here now. Seeing my parent’s faith over the years, all that God has done, the miracles, it’s what strengthens my own faith now every day.
Q: As believers, how can we encourage those who feel they’ve made too many mistakes to experience God’s goodness and grace?
A: It’s easy to be defined by one moment in life, by a divorce, by a business that didn’t make it, or by how we didn’t finish school. We shouldn’t let our mistakes define us. That negative recording in our mind reminds us of everything we’ve done wrong, how we’re not going to be blessed, or we’re not going to accomplish dreams. The enemy is called the accuser of the brethren. He’d love to convince you to let that one mistake, that one season in your life to cause you to see yourself negatively and to abandon your dreams. That mistake didn’t cancel God’s plan. You may have failed but you’re not a failure. That was a moment in your life, that was one season that doesn’t determine your future. Don’t let that mistake define you. If you go around wearing the negative labels — divorced, addicted, failed, compromised — then you’re going to miss the fullness of what God has in store.
Q: With nations around the globe so divided over social, political, and religious issues, what are some ways the Body of Christ can share the love of Jesus to bring healing and restoration?
A: The most effective way to preach the Gospel is to live the Gospel. Our words should be encouraging, and our actions should show the love that lives inside of us. We should not be condemning of others, but instead see the potential in everyone we meet. We should be the kind of people that others admire, and they should want the joy that we have. When you love others and you encourage them whenever you see them, they are naturally going to gravitate to you. This allows you to influence them for the better which results in a better world.
Q: In December, you’ll release your latest book, The Power of Favor: Unleashing the Force That Will Take You Where You Can’t Go on Your Own. Describe what readers can expect as they turn the pages.
A: We can work hard, be faithful, be diligent, and that’s important, but that will only take us to a certain level. But when God breathes His favor on you, things will happen that you couldn’t make happen; opportunities will open that you didn’t see coming. The right people will track you down. I’ve heard it said, “One touch of favor is worth more than a lifetime of labor.” In my new book, I want people to understand the power of God’s favor. There are many people in Scripture who had favor with God which allowed them to accomplish great and mighty things. Take Noah for example. God was about to destroy the earth, bring a great flood. He could have wiped everyone out and started over. But the scripture says, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Why did he find favor and not all the people around him? They were about to perish. The next verse says, “Noah consistently followed God’s will and did what was right.” Noah could have just fit in, done like everyone else, compromised, but he made the choice to walk in obedience.
When you honor God, when you keep Him first place, then you will find favor in the eyes of Lord. There is a blessing on your life that will push you up, it will cause you to stand out. His favor will cause you to be preferred. When God gives you favor, He puts something on you that gives you an advantage, something that will open doors that you couldn’t open, something that will make you stand out in the crowd. Favor will cause good breaks to come to you. Favor will take you from the background to the foreground. God’s favor will cause you to overcome what looks impossible, it will take you where you couldn’t go on your own.
Q: Many people often wrestle with the biblical reality that God is for us, not against us. What are some steps we can take to change that mindset?
A: We have to remember God is our Heavenly Father. Of all the ways He could have told us to relate to Him, Jesus said God is our Father first. That’s the best understanding we could have of God, one of a loving father — someone that’s proud of us, someone that cares, someone that cheers us on and lifts us when we fall. When we know this, we begin to realize God’s not distant. He’s not unapproachable. He’s not mad at us. He’s madly in love with us.
The Bible says, “You’re the apple of His eye, His most prized possession.” That’s how He feels toward you. He’s there to encourage you when you’re down and push you forward when you feel like giving up. If He cares for the birds in the air, how much more must He care for you?
Some people never see God as proud of them. They’re too busy criticizing themselves. They think they’re not smart enough. They don’t look the right way. They don’t have enough talent. They’ve decided if they don’t like themselves, then God doesn’t either. They know He loves them, but He couldn’t actually like them. They’re not as funny as their friends. They’re not as gifted as their siblings. They don’t have a great career like their neighbor does. Don’t be like them. Your Heavenly Father is the one who breathed life into you. You’ve been fearfully and wonderfully made. He’s the one who gave you your personality, your smile, your talent, your uniqueness. Everything about you has been carefully designed into what He calls a masterpiece. When God looks at you, He sees a masterpiece.
We think, “If I could just be more disciplined, if I was more generous, if I only made better choices — then He’d be proud.” But the truth is God is well pleased with you just as you are. You’re His beloved son or daughter, there is nothing you could do to make Him love you anymore. He may not agree with all your behavior, but He’s pleased with who you are. He’s already approved you.
When we have the right image of God, it gives us boldness. We can walk in confidence. It allows us to pursue our dreams and overcome challenges. If the Creator of the universe is for us, there is nothing that could stand against.
Q: How much do our words factor into our future success, and how can a daily declaration of truth activate God’s favor in our lives?
A: Our words have creative power. Whenever we speak something, either good or bad, we give life to what we are saying. Too many people say negative things about themselves, about their families, and about their futures. They say things such as, “I’ll never be successful. This sickness will get the best of me. Business is so slow I don’t think I will make it. Flu season is coming. I’ll probably catch it.”
They don’t realize they are prophesying their futures. The Scripture says, “We will eat the fruit of our words.” That means we will get exactly what we’ve been saying.
Don’t use your words to describe the situation. Use your words to change the situation. All through the day we should go around saying, “I have the favor of God. I can do all things through Christ. I am blessed. I’m strong. I’m healthy.” When you do that you just blessed your life. You just spoke favor into your future. Send your words out in the direction you want your life to go.
Q: Briefly share a past personal story of how God’s favor has empowered your ministry, ultimately leading to your global influence today.
A: When we were trying to acquire our new facility here, the former Compaq Center, we needed ten votes from the City Council members to win. The night before we only had nine. It looked like we were going to lose. But at the last moment a young Jewish council member changed his mind and he voted for us. It was his vote that gave us the victory. I was talking to him later and I asked him, “What was it that caused you to change your mind?” After all, he’d been against us for nearly two years. He said, “Joel, although you were very persuasive and thousands of your members called my office, it wasn’t any of that.” He told how there was this elderly Jewish lady that he had known since he was a little boy. He hadn’t talked to her in years and years. But the night before the main vote, out of the blue, she called him and told him in no uncertain terms he was to vote for Lakewood. He said, “It was that phone call that changed my mind.” And what’s interesting to me is, I don’t know that lady. I’ve never met her, never talked to her. She may not even realize it but it was her three-minute phone call that caused us to have this facility. She made a difference. She was only one but it just so happened, she was the right one. She was the one God anointed. Now we own this facility, and Lakewood Church and the ministries have become known around the world.
Q: How can hearing God’s Word spoken over our lives build our faith for the future, no matter what we’re facing?
A: The Scripture says, “God watches over His word to perform it.” It doesn’t say God watches over our complaints, our begging, “Please God, you know this is not fair. You’ve got to turn this around.” Yes, He’s concerned. He sees the wrongs, but what moves Him to act is when He hears His word. You have to ask yourself, “am I talking more about the problems or about His promises?” What you’re bringing to God’s remembrance is going to determine whether or not you reach your destiny. Isaiah said, “Put God in remembrance of His promises.” Don’t just pray the problem, pray the promises. Declare them over your life. If you only tell God what’s wrong, then you’re limiting what He can do. Maybe you’ve had some bad breaks, you went through a loss, somebody walked out of a relationship. Turn it around. Say, “God You promised You would give me beauty for these ashes. You promised weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Lord, thank You that I’m not just coming out, I’m coming out better.” When you declare the promises, He’ll will make up for what was unfair. Whatever you’re believing for, you need to find some promises in the Scripture. Make a list, put it on your phone, your mirror, your computer, all through the day remind God of His Word, remind Him what He promised you.
Q: With holiday season almost here, this time of year is often tough for those who’ve lost loved ones or experienced tragedy. What are some practical tips to transform a pain-filled perspective into praise?
A: We all have things that come against us. The winds, the storms, come to every person. Especially during difficult and challenging times, I encourage you to start each day with your mind set in the right direction, thanking God that He’s still on the throne, that He’s bigger than anything you’re facing.
The scripture says, Numbers 21:17, “Then Israel sang this song, ‘Spring up, O well!’” Right in the middle of the desert, when they were discouraged, it looked impossible, all they could see was sand, instead of complaining, they began to sing, “Spring up oh well.” They were making a declaration of faith. They were saying, “Lord thank you that water is coming, thank you that you’re making streams in the desert, thank you that you’re supplying our needs.” That verse goes on to say, verse 17, “They sang to the well.” That was the key. You have to sing to your promise.
Your praise, your thanksgiving, your declaration of faith is what causes water to flow in the desert. When He hears you singing, thanking Him before the answer comes, praising Him while you’re in a drought, declaring His favor when the odds are against you, He’ll make things happen you could never make happen. He’ll open doors that no man can shut. He’ll show out in your life in ways you’ve never seen.
When you keep giving God praise, it’s what causes healing to spring up, abundance to spring up, breakthroughs to spring up.
Q: As a pastor, a bestselling author, and sought-after speaker, how do you manage to balance the demands of ministry and still remain in God’s rest each day?
A: I make sure to spend time with God each morning. I set my mind on the things I’m thankful for and ask Him for direction for the day. One thing I’ve learned I have to turn some things over to God if I’m going to remain at rest. When we rest and turn things over to God, then He’ll go to work. That’s showing God that you trust Him.
Q: As you look to the future, how do plan to continue the Lakewood legacy and inspire people everywhere to embrace God’s Word and experience His promises?
A: Victoria and I, and now our children are more involved, we’re going to continue doing what we do best. My calling is to give people hope, to let them know that our God is a good God. Especially, today people are looking for hope more than ever. There’s a lot of things pushing people down. Our message is about inspiring and lifting people up. We’re going to keep spreading that message, planting seeds of hope, through as many channels as we can, through television, online, and social media.