Prospering just doesn’t have to do with money. God lets us go through difficult things. There’s not a person alive who can say, "You’re never going to have a tough time and God’s going to make your path easy." It’s in the difficult times that we’re growing and you can’t just rebuke everything hard. We’ve got to endure it and fight the good fight of faith and pass the test.
I think he always will, because he’s faithful. He may not make it up the way we want. But when I say God may make something up to us, maybe an example of a husband or wife, somebody walked out of a relationship, I’m not saying God’s going to make up something that next year or maybe your whole lifetime, but I believe God can make it up and give you a peace and a joy that you never had before. I don’t think it's "Joel said God’s going to bring me another husband in two years." I think it’s a peace, a joy, a happiness.
What are the biggest problems people come to you with?
I would say it’s relationships. People are discouraged, beaten down. Relationships, finances, health [are] probably the big categories.
Is there a certain message you give them that helps them most?
You’ve got to believe that God is in control of your life. It may be a tough time but you’ve got to believe that God has a reason for it and he’s going to make everything good. It’s up to us to stay in that attitude of faith.
God works where there’s faith. And faith to me is having a positive outlook, believing that things are going to get better, and expecting good things in life. God’s given you the strength to endure a tough time. God’s there for you. Call on him, believe in his strength.
The book’s title and subhead--Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential--don’t include specific Christian terms. To whom are you marketing the book?
You’re exactly right. I don’t want to just preach to the church and I just feel like I have a broader message. I’d like to think that I can help everyday people who don’t necessarily go to church. I bet half the letters I get, the first line is "I’ve never been to church. I don’t watch a preacher on TV, but..."
When I first started, I played basketball down at the YMCA with a bunch of guys—I don’t know if they’re Christian, but they’re not living a Christian life. I always thought, when I speak, if they can’t understand what I’m saying, then I’m not doing the right thing. So I try to speak in everyday language. I feel like God has gifted me to take Bible principles and make them practical.
I'll give you my two cents, but I've never made political statements. I don't necessarily see the divide in what I'm doing because we see people that are happy and that are together. The congregation is very racially mixed and all that, so I don't see it. I've seen in the polls how Americans want to stand up for values. I think it reinforces the kind of the messages that we preach.
What moral values are important to focus on now?
I think most of it has to do with the family and the marriage situation and all that.
You mean same-sex marriage?
I'm sure that's part of it. I have not gotten very involved in any of that.
But I don't think people like in general what they see on TV.
But they like watching you on TV.
What's the most important thing to do to overcome guilt and shame?
We've got to forgive ourselves for mistakes we've made. A lot of people tell me, "I don't feel like God wants to bless me."
If we don't forgive ourselves for mistakes we've made-and everybody's made their choices, some worse than others--we'll never experience the good life God has in store.
It's just changing your attitude and knowing that God gives you your value. Even though somebody's tried to devalue you, you've just got to say, "I've gotta let that go and know who I am, who God made me to be."