Lakewood Church senior pastor Joel Osteen has shared his thoughts on how Christians can live at peace with one another following a divisive election - even if they don't agree politically.
The pastor says that every day is a gift from God - and so are friendships. Thus, it's important to maintain those relationships.
"It's just about treating others with respect," the author and televangelist says. "When you stop treating others with respect, you quit hearing people."
Osteen believes it's important to be willing to listen to other opinions and viewpoints: "Maybe it's just about being open, knowing to be open to a lot of different views and believing that you may not be right all the time or thinking that maybe you are big enough to say you are going to listen and not get mad just because someone doesn't believe like you believe," he says.
The "Think Better, Live Better" author explains that being defensive and is the fastest way to stop hearing what the person opposite you has to say.
"To not be defense, to not think you have to change everybody...that's the key," he says. "You have to think, I know I'm not here to change everybody. Every person is made in the image of God. Maybe I'm right or maybe they're right and I'm wrong. Could be."
According to a Gallup poll from November, seventy-seven percent of Americans, a new high, believe the nation is divided on the most important values, while just 21% believe it is united and in agreement.
Osteen has repeatedly come under fire in the past for his refusal to address hot-button issues such as sin, abortion and gay marriage. While acknowledging that such topics are "important" to discuss, the 53-year-old pastor has said he doesn't believe he is "called" to address such matter.
"I have friends who are very political. They're pastors and that's what their thing is. But I think sometimes, that the church world, we can take one issue and make it really, really big and it can turn people off where there are many bigger issues. That's why I don't like to be defined by one thing," the "Your Best Life Now" author said.
"You know, our message is about lifting people up, helping them fulfill their destiny, helping them to forgive in a tough time, how to make it through this life when life tries to push you down," he added.
Osteen's message clearly resonates with his audience; his Houston, Texas church has the largest congregation in the United States, averaging more than 43,500 in attendance per week.
"Our general message speaks to staying in peace and being respectful and staying full of joy and staying positive," he told northjersey.com. "I don't get specific about the politics, but our core message deals with [how] every day, you have to choose to be happy; you have to overlook things that are done wrong and things that are said."