Megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen has encouraged Christians to refrain from debating nonbelievers and instead exemplify the love and compassion of Jesus Christ when engaging with those of different faiths.
"I think [Christians should] take the high ground and respect where [other people are] coming from. What I've seen in life is most people get their faith or their religious background from their parents," the Lakewood Church pastor told the Christian Post, lamenting that often, Christians try to prove their faith by debating others.
"I always realize - because I travel to a lot of different countries with different people of different faiths - I realize this is the way they were raised and I think people will know who the Disciples of Christ are by our love for one another. So I think respect and understanding is [the] starting point.
"[I prefer to] really make them want something that I have [such as] peace, joy and strength. Something that would be enticing to them," continued Osteen. "Respect is one of the characteristics of showing that we're people of faith. That we love God, that we love Jesus, and that is that we treat people with, respect and honor. Even those who disagree with us."
The New York Times bestselling author also emphasized the power of words and encouraged believers to stop using disparaging terms about themselves and instead use the words "I am" and follow that up with statements from God's Word about His people.
"It's easy to go through life and say 'I'm unattractive, I'm slow, I'm not as smart as my brother.' Just these negative things," said Osteen. "I give a list of 30 or 40 positive things; I am healthy, I am disciplined, I am focused. And I believe, when you're constantly meditating on that, those things are attracted to you. You're sowing a seed for it to come into your life."
Some people have negative ideas about themselves due to unfortunate events in their past or because of the way they were raised, while others are simply more pessimistic by nature.
"The real battle is taking place in our minds and thoughts," Osteen contended. "Because we all have negative circumstances. You can view them and get negative and discouraged, or you can turn it around and say, 'God, thank you that you're fighting my battles.' It's what the Scripture says. Rejoice in the Lord always and count it all joy when you face trials," he said.
Osteen recently released his latest book, The Power of I Am: Two Words That Will Change Your Life Today, which seeks to help readers "discover your unique abilities and advantages to lead a more productive and happier life."
He is also preparing to host another wildly popular "Night Of Hope" event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Oct. 16.
"New Yorkers are people who love the Lord. We've been to Yankee Stadium twice and we just love being in New York. It's a great place. [New Yorkers] are very outspoken and demonstrative. They clap, they sing, they cheer. It surprised me. I thought they'd be quiet, maybe a little bit cold, but I find just the opposite," said Osteen.
The previous "Night of Hope" event was held in August at AT&T Park in San Francisco and sold out within days to attendees who came from around the country eager hear Osteen's message of hope and inspiration.
"No mistake is too much for the mercy of God," Osteen reminded attendees last year. "The enemy is called the 'Accuser of the Brethren.' He'd love for us to live guilty and condemned, he'll remind you of every mistake you've ever made...he can keep you from becoming who God has created you to be."