“Joel Osteen is a fraud!” So am I.

By Steve Austin | faith

Jun 24

I read a story recently about a guy who had been in ministry nearly all of his life.  At one instance, he gathered a major crowd (composed of fans and foes) to see him perform a great “miracle”.  He was only a teenager at the time.  Later in his life, as he had moved up in ministry and it seemed that God had “promoted him”, he was garnering all sorts of attention from not only his words, but also his fortune and fame.  He was “God’s man”, yet living a very lavish lifestyle, and it would seem that it all went to his head.  My heart was broken as I read the lurid details of his affair and the murder and cover-up that followed.  How could anyone trust this guy ever again?  How could he ever be considered as “leadership material” after such a scandal?

What a fraud!

A fake!

A phony!

He must have been ministering with bad intentions the whole time!

Yet, David was called, “A man after God’s own heart.”

During my time away from the blog, I have completed the first rough draft of my book and one of the reviews I received last night was extremely thorough and even included a “This book is comparable to these other titles” category, where similar books were listed.  Those of you who know me well know that I have not ever been much of a fan of Joel Osteen (to say the least), but God gave me a big glass of “shut up juice” last night as I saw that an Osteen book was at the very top of the list of “comparable books”.  I have been talking to a friend/mentor lately, who asked me about my feelings toward Joel Osteen.  I really had no good reason why I disliked him so strongly, other than “he’s too perfect”, with his curly black hair, Texas drawl, and chiclet teeth.  My friend asked, “But have you ever listened to one of his sermons?  Have you ever read one of his books?”  Of course I haven’t–why would I watch or read a guy I don’t like?  He’s obviously a phony!  Right?


I was wrong.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.  Yes, and I will continue to rejoice.” –Philippians 1:18

Paul wrote this, while in chains, in prison, to those who were complaining about a certain group of people they believed to be preaching with bad motives.  Paul was in prison.  Rejoicing over the fact that, no matter who was preaching it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached.  Others were taking the time to devour their neighbors instead of preaching the Gospel.  The Gospel of love that is unconditional, grace that knows no bounds, acceptance for the outcasts, and peace in the midst of strife.  Yea, remember that Gospel?

So, in taking the time to judge Joel Osteen for the past several years, I have been WRONG.  Whether YOU personally like him or not, I was wrong.  Whether he lives what may appear to be too lavish of a lifestyle or not, I was wrong.

I was wrong.

I was a fraud.

I think back to the days when I was a teenage youth leader, hooked on porn.

Or when I was living in sexual immorality during my time in ministry school.

Yea.  I was.

I did.

I was a fraud.

So you argue, “The difference in David and Joel Osteen is that David came before the Lord with a contrite heart…” and “Your examples of your own sin, Steve, are from the past, and this is about a lifestyle change, not a one-time deal…”


How about now, when I have just one drink too many and go from doing “everything in moderation” to tipsy.  Does it mean the work we have done here with Grace is Messy is worthless and fraudulent?

  • Did my sin nullify Christ’s work on the Cross?
  • Did my mistake(s) cancel out the Truth of the Gospel?
  • Did God’s grace end there, at my failure, since there were other more perfect people standing in line, waiting to preach the Good News?

The World runs from Christians most often, because we are so quick to devour one another.

Here’s the Good News: God isn’t looking for a perfect person, He’s just looking for someone who’s available!

Question: When my book is published, will people then say that the only reason I ever had this blog in the first place was in hopes of becoming famous?  I pray not.

Remind me, Gracious God, of the words David wrote in the 19th Psalm:

But who can discern their own errors?
    Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
    may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
    innocent of great transgression.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


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About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • I love this and hope you put it in your book- what a great intro this would be!

    • Steve Austin says:

      Cousin! Thank you! If you hadn’t shared the Scripture with me (which I had COMPLETELY forgotten about), I probably wouldn’t have written it.
      I’m just tired of mean Christians and I don’t want to be one, though I am very guilty of being one in the past.

      My buddy Wayne said it like this, “Being judgmental seems fun at the time, but when it kind of leaves a taste in the back of your throat like heartburn.”

      • Gary says:

        It’s not mean when Christians confront a man preaching heresies and leading others down the path of destruction. I would find fault with Christians that don’t confront this man.I suppose you would rather hear a man tell you what you want to hear all of the time? The problem is that kind of a preacher will never warn them of trouble. Ignorance is bliss with such people.

      • Steve Austin says:

        Hi Gary,
        Thanks for stopping by and sharing your opinion. I appreciate your visit very much. I think healthy discussion is a much-needed part of our faith and I welcome it on this site always.

        To clarify, I didn’t say that “confronting” anyone was wrong. My point in the entire post was that I am no better than Joel Osteen, whom I had judged and criticized for years. If you have the opportunity to confront Mr. Osteen personally, in love, as we are called to do, I think that you’re absolutely justified in doing so. I don’t have a problem with that at all.

        I never stated that I would rather hear someone tell me what I want to hear all the time. Just to be clear. That was your own assumption.

        Now–would you mind answering these questions that I asked in the blog? I would really appreciate it!

        Did my sin nullify Christ’s work on the Cross?
        Did my mistake(s) cancel out the Truth of the Gospel?
        Did God’s grace end there, at my failure, since there were other more perfect people standing in line, waiting to preach the Good News?

        Have a great day,

  • Dennis Gable says:

    Reblogged this on Dennis Gable and commented:Had to repost this thought from my man Steve Austin… Buckle up 🙂

  • riff says:

    Jealousy is just about the most evil form of selfishness. Self is the Christian’s worst demon and must be surrendered before any battle can be won.

  • R Crabtree says:

    I appreciate your humility, your graciousness, and your desire to see Christians genuinely love each and thereby show the world the very real, deep and meaningful love of Christ we share – on all of this we agree.
    You are also right to say that if we making our assessment of Joel Osteen’s ministry based on insufficient data, media smear-campaigns, personal envy or the like we are making an unjust judgment against the man. We ought not condemn anyone based on such subjective and reactionary grounds… Here’s where we disagree however…

    While I as a Christian cannot judge Joel’s motives for preaching I am fully required to judge the message Joel preaches and to weigh that message against the teaching of the Bible – it is upon this and not upon anything groud that we are to assess whether a message (and perhaps the man behind the message) is a fraud.

    Therefore, when you quoted Philippians 1:18 I believe you stumbled into something that seemed more to contradict your points about Osteen than to prop them up. In Philippians 1:18 Paul takes it for granted that regardless of the motives of his preaching competitors “Christ is being preached.” This was actually a very impressive thing for Paul to say. Surely more than any of the other apostles Paul developed a highly sophisticated Christology as we can see in his epistles. Paul knew what it was to preach Christ and he knew what it was to preach something else. Often times we find him making these distinctions. Be that as it may, Paul knew this about the preachers he was referring to in Philippians – though their motives were suspect, their message was not.
    Apply this to Joel Osteen.
    I don’t know and I don’t care about his motives – I do care about his message.
    There is much in Joel Osteen’s preaching and writing (though admittedly I am no student of his work) that raises the very real question – it is a question that you’ll have to answer for yourself as you assess whether or not he is a fraud… that question is this, “Does he preach Christ?”
    Would the Apostle Paul (if he were still writing letters among us today) write to the churches and say in effect, “This Osteen guy really has a sound Christology. He gets the gospel. He understands substitutionary atonement. He conveys the active and passive obedience of Christ, etc., etc.?”

    It would be a difficult scenario to imagine.

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