In an age in which pastors are frequently being brought down by sexual scandals, popular author and Pastor Joel Osteen says he follows what is known as the "Billy Graham rule."
The 55-year-old Osteen, whose sermons are seen on television by millions worldwide each week, spoke with The Christian Post before taking the stage for his monthly "Night of Hope" event attended by thousands at Capital One Arena last Saturday.
The Houston, Texas-based pastor talked about his new book, Next Level Thinking: 10 Powerful Thoughts for a Successful and Abundant Life, and answered a number of questions touching on subjects that range from pastor accountability and depression to whether his 45,000-member Lakewood Church has considered becoming a multicampus congregation.
Below is an edited transcript of CP's interview with Osteen:
CP: There's a lot in the news today. It seems like every now and again, we are seeing pastors or clergy being brought down by some [sexual] scandal or another. For you, what steps for accountability do you have? Do you follow the Billy Graham rule [where men avoid spending time alone with women they are not married to]?
Osteen: I do and I always have, and my father did too. I think the key for me on that is to start every day — I take the first half hour of every day to search my own heart to ask God, 'Am I on track and doing this for the right reasons? Am I following what you want me to do?' To me, you can have a lot of accountability and that is important. But I think you can hide things too.
I think it's important to be honest before God every day and check the reasons why you are doing what you are doing. To me, when I stand before God having a pure heart, I can go out and be my best.
CP: As a pastor, especially one who is in the limelight like you are, do you find that you ever struggle with loneliness? A lot of pastors today are suffering from depression or anxiety. For you, is that something that you suffer from? What advice do you have for other pastors as we see a many pastor suicides in the news.
Osteen: It is a sad thing and I think it comes to us all. I am blessed to have a health family around me and friends, so I don't suffer from that. I know it can be very lonely because as a pastor, you are busy and there is always something to do.
I would just encourage other pastors to take care of themselves, not just physically or spiritually, but emotionally, and find some other friends and take time to connect. That's really one reason why we started our Champions Network. It's a group of pastors who service people. How do we connect? How do we get to know each other?
When we are done with this [interview], I will go meet a couple dozen pastors who are here today and it's really just to be in relationship and to say, "Hey, we are all in this together." I think it's important to have those healthy pastoral relationships.
CP: A lot of people when they refer to you they refer to the words "prosperity gospel." Would you say it's fair to consider you a prosperity gospel pastors?
Osteen: I don't think so. I don't fully know what [prosperity gospel] means. I think there is only one Gospel and that is the Gospel that Jesus died and rose again. When I think of prosperity, I think of someone asking for money. I don't do that.
Prosperity is having good health and being able to sleep at night and having good relationships. It's having money to pay our bills and follow your dreams. It is not about wealth and getting rich. That is kind of what I see when I hear "prosperity." I talk about all types of things. On purpose, I stay away from money [in my sermons] because people already think TV pastors are frauds and all that. I try to stay away from that, but I do believe God wants you to be blessed.
We couldn't have [acquired] the Compaq Center if we didn't have people that God blessed them. I think He wants us to rise higher. This event cost hundreds of thousands of dollars tonight. That's because people are able to give and be blessed.
Read the full interview at The Christian Post