Why I Like Joel Osteen
A True Story
on May 30, 2021
Although I am deeply Christian, I don't like much action on pulpits. I don't like the studied air, the theatrical grimace and the artificial inflection of voices that some of our most popular preachers here in Kenya have. Instead, I prefer preachers who speak naturally and humorously, and in a manner calculated to inspire devotion - the way Joel Osteen does.
Joel Osteen is an American pastor based in the U.S. state of Texas. I first heard him preach on the telly in 2008 when a fellow chorister at All Saints' Cathedral in Nairobi took me to his house. He preached extremely well and with such great propriety that I instantly liked him. If my memory serves me right, he talked about the importance of keeping in touch with old friends and treasuring beautiful memories - a message that resonated with me.
About two years later when I resumed attending church at All Saints' Cathedral, a church-mate called Mrs. Njoroge lent me Joel Osteen's Become a Better You on one Sunday. I felt so proud to be in possession of the book that I showed it off to a few fellow choristers in the cathedral. And devouring the book, I did. After I was done devouring it, I dutifully returned it to Mrs. Njoroge. But the much I remember learning from the book is to think well of myself.
Having become a fan of Joel Osteen, I would sometimes listen to a sermon of his that was available in the audio-visual section of the Kenya National Library in Nairobi where I used to go for private studying in 2011. The sermon was about being open to new ways of serving when things don't work out the way we envisioned them. While listening to that moving sermon, I admired Joel Osteen's style of speaking so much that I would visualize myself delivering a speech in a similar manner.
After being moved by that sermon, I turned to YouTube for more of Joel Osteen's sermons. I downloaded quite a number of them and saved them on my phone for listening during my free time. Oh my, weren't the sermons inspiring! Not only did I learn something from them such as praying bold prayers, I also enjoyed some of Joel Osteen's jokes. He really has a refreshing sense of humor.
Sometime in 2012 when I visited a distant neighbor of mine named Mrs. Mathenge, I found her with a copy of Joel Osteen's It's Your Time. I begged her to lend me the book, which she did. Even though I read it to completion, I can hardly recall anything I gleaned from the book. But I am quite sure it had useful nuggets of information that I now have no record of as I have long since returned the book to Mrs. Mathenge. And that's precisely why I don't borrow books these days; I buy my own copies so that I can keep them for future reference.
Several months ago, I developed a burning desire to re-read Joel Osteen's Become a Better You because I thought the book could help me get rid of the guilt, worries and insecurities that sometimes assail me when I go for my evening exercises. Since the book was not available in the bookshops I visited, I tried ordering it from Amazon but found the shipping and handling costs prohibitive. I then contemplated calling Mrs. Njoroge, the lady who lent me the book in 2010, to request her to sell me her copy but I brushed the idea aside.
Guess what! As I was walking on a busy street in Nairobi last Friday but one, I found the book on sale at a certain bookstall which sells second-hand bestsellers. I hastily bought it and began reading it the following day. And wow! How delighted I felt to go through 377 pages of encouraging messages!
Joel Osteen wrote Become a Better You with authority, just like the way Jesus did when He was preaching over two millennia ago. He had insights into the challenges that people go through in life. In the book, he offered his advice on how we can rise above those challenges. He backed his points with authentic and interesting stories, some of which he drew from his own experiences.
While reading the book, I found myself underlining so many sentences whose messages spoke right to my heart. As I underlined the sentences, I kept wondering whether I am the same person who studied the book in 2010 because I seemed to have missed much of the wisdom in it. And I couldn't help envying Joel Osteen's talent for encouraging people and wished I, too, could possess that talent especially for encouraging myself in those low moments when I am plagued by guilt, worry and insecurities.
All told, Joel Osteen's Become a Better You has encouraged me to trust in God with every detail of my life, to get rid of accusing voices in my head, to pray with an attitude of expectancy, to embrace where I am in life and to not mind what critics say about me. The book has made me like Joel Osteen more, and I have resolved that should I come across another book by him, I won't hesitate to purchase it.
By the way, it seems like I am not the only Kenyan who likes Joel Osteen. A friend of mine called Douglas Warui once asked me if I listen to Joel Osteen's sermons after I emailed him an article I had written about how the words we speak can build or destroy other people. Then there is Peter Kuria, a fellow in my neighborhood who has named one of his sons after Joel Osteen. That's interesting, isn't it?
FEEDBACK: Would you be so kind as to offer your feedback on the stories I post on this blog? Just click on the "Feedback" link on the menu at the top of this blog and share your thoughts with me. Thanks in advance for your comments.
Sharing is CaringLike this story? Then share it on:
Donating = LovingIt takes so much time to research, write and edit the stories and videos in this blog. If you do find any joy in going through them, please consider supporting the author with a donation of any amount - anything from buying him a cuppa to treating him to a good dinner. Thanks to everyone who is contributing; you rock!
My Take on Getting Rich
A True Story
on May 25, 2021
Sometime back as I was walking home from my hometown of Kiserian, I heard the siren of an approaching police car. Behind it was a convoy of top-of-the-range vehicles. I didn't need to be a genius to know that it was a high-ranking government official who was being escorted and chauffeur-driven in the convoy of cars; most probably the governor of my county.
Guess what! A minute or two after the top-of-the-range vehicles had passed by, a friend of mine called Gitau wheeled past me in his old donkey-pulled cart. I couldn't help contrast the high-ranking government official who was being escorted and chauffeur-driven in sleek cars and my friend Gitau who was beating a donkey that was pulling his old cart. It was a classic portrayal of the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots.
To be honest, I wouldn't want to be as poor as Gitau. I would instead love to be as rich as the high-ranking government official. Rich enough to meet my needs because from experience, it feels fantastic to have money to buy a new pair of shoes when the old pair wears out, to purchase a new phone with better accessories than the old one or to just walk into a supermarket to do some shopping.
Being poor is not honorable since it is the lack of money that forces many people to take up deadly-dull jobs that will put cash in their pockets for buying food and other basic needs. That makes me agree with the writer Wallace D. Wattles who wrote, "Whatever may be said in praise of poverty, the fact remains that it is not possible to live a really complete or successful life unless one is rich."
I believe most people out there also have this craving to get rich given the way they buy shares in a stock exchange, invest in government bonds, build rental houses, try their luck in a lottery and participate in promotions advertised by leading companies. Others resort to illegal means of getting rich such as stealing, defrauding banks, peddling hard drugs and embezzling public funds.
Essential as money is to leading a complete and successful life, I don't think it's wise to focus all our time and energy on getting rich. We should instead use our time to develop the talents God gifted us with and find ways of using them to help people. If we do so, we will become happy and money will come to us naturally as the motivational author Robin Sharma informs us in one of his books.
Several prominent people have offered similar opinions on getting rich. The venerated American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who lifted his country from the worst economic depression in history, said in his first inaugural address in 1933 that "happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement and in the thrill of creative effort."
In his bestselling autobiography published in 2005, former U.S. president Bill Clinton pointed out that a life spent solely on acquiring riches leaves so much to be desired. I think that's why our own president, Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta, advised Kenyans a few years ago to reject the easy shilling. His point, I think, was that we should labor for money instead of stealing or trying our luck in a lottery. That reminds me of Abraham Lincoln who quipped, "A dollar earned is better than a dollar found."
The Bible, which is the ultimate source of wisdom, has some advice to offer of getting rich. It says in the book of Ecclesiastes that money is the answer for everything, a fact I agree with. But it also cautions us not to be in a hurry to get rich and warns us not to go after ill-gotten wealth. Instead, it advises us to acquire riches through hard-work, proper planning and reliance on God who is the giver of wealth and honor.
Although I concur with the Bible that money is the answer for everything, I don't think money fulfills all our needs. Money can, for instance, buy us a bed and a mattress but not a good night's sleep; it can buy us a big house but not a happy family; it can buy us sex but not true love. A good night's sleep, a happy family and true love are acquired through rightful living.
I often ask myself: If we spend all our time speculating on which company to buy shares in a stock exchange, when will we get time to develop our talents? If we devote all our time thinking on which project to invest in, when will we find time to bond with our families, friends and relatives? And isn't it in developing our talents and in forging meaningful relationships that we derive our most happiness?
In a world full of conflicting ideas on how to get rich, I find that the great black American Booker T. Washington aptly captured the best way of getting rich in the following insight he gave on how a black person could succeed:
...in his effort to withstand temptation, to economize, to exercise thrift, to disregard the superficial for the real - the shadow for the substance; to be great yet small, in his effort to be patient in the laying of a firm foundation; to so grow in skill and knowledge that he shall place his services in demand by reason of his intrinsic and superior worth. This is the key that unlocks every door of opportunity, and all others fail.I have chosen to follow Booker T. Washington's insightful advice on how to be truly successful, to be genuinely rich. So I will continue growing in skill and knowledge, disregarding the superficial for the real - the shadow for the substance - while praying for breakthroughs that will propel me to the life of my dreams, a life of financial freedom. How about you?
RECOMMENDATION: If you've enjoyed this story about my take on getting rich, you might also enjoy another one I wrote sometime back on "Wealth & Honor". Just click on that link in blue to dive straight into the story.