Where Were You Joel Osteen?

A few days ago, while walking with a friend, I heard myself say a snarky thing about a woman we both knew. Later, at home, I thought: Joel Osteen! Where were you when I needed you to keep me from being unpleasant about a perfectly good person?

And why does this Episcopalian/Buddhist/interfaith minister think of Pastor Joel Osteen when she has just been a bit bitchy?

It’s simple. He’s a wonderful preacher, deep thinking, articulate and uplifting. (Sunday, 9:00 AM, Channel 5) He leaves me feeling full of possibilities: that I can be a better person: that I have only just begun to realize the potential that God holds for me: that I will be able to fulfill whatever it is that I came into this world to express.

How great is that? Joel Osteen inspires me to believe that I am worthyin every way—in spite of my contrary behavior.

And just last Sunday he raised this question: are we sowing honor or dishonor in our lives? And there I was walking along with my friend—a perfect example of someone sowing some gratuitous dishonor.

Osteen spoke of the way in which we store up honor and admiration of others. We “withhold” it, he said. We think nice things about people, but we don’t bother to let them know. We tend to be compliment lazy and often parsimonious with praise.  

Sometimes our holdback is more than just laziness.

Compliments can become frozen inside us because unconsciously we fear that if we release that praise for another, somehow we will be the less for it. As if, in praising someone else, we risk losing some esteem for ourselves. So we don’t share our kind thoughts. (Have you noticed this behavior  showing up where certain others are concerned? A spouse? A sibling? Someone with whom we feel a bit competitive?)

Osteen reminded his millions of listeners that, actually, it’s exactly the opposite. “We reap what we sow.”  Instead of losing, when we honor another, we gain. We thrive when we become “generous with compliments and stingy with complaints.”

 “Pour the oil of honor everywhere you can, by speaking well of someone even behind his or her back,” he urged. “There is great power,” he went on to say, “in a second hand compliment.”

How many sincere compliments can we offer in any given day? Let’s challenge ourselves to find the good wherever and however we can, and then share it, express it, make it known.

Then, if Osteen is right, along with Jesus and the Buddha—who teaches the same thing, but says it very differently—we will only need to keep our hearts open and our generosity flowing. As we soften, the oft-spoken spiritual promise is that miracles will begin to happen, both within us and in the world around us.


Written by Cecily Stranahan, our companion on this journey of reflection and self-discovery. Visit Cecily's Blog at LifeOpeningUp.blogspot.com