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Visiting Joel Osteen hopes Phoenix gets off to a successful 2014

Popular televangelist Joel Osteen brought his Night of Hope tour to Arena in Glendale, Arizona on January 3, 2014.
Popular televangelist Joel Osteen brought his Night of Hope tour to Arena in Glendale, Arizona on January 3, 2014.
Denise Meridith

Baby boomers may remember their parents repeating the old adage “You should never discuss religion or politics in polite company.” That notion seems dated these days, especially when politics and religion have such an impact on our economy. While many of the senior televangelists have profited from courting, and being supported by, the political conservatives, one—Joel Osteen—has become wildly popular, especially with younger people, by avoiding politics. Instead, Osteen spoke to a full Arena in Glendale, Arizona, on January 3, 2014, about optimism and personal accountability.

Osteen’s visit to Phoenix was part of his nationwide 11-city Night of Hope tour. While there were musical performances, appearances from local Valley pastors, and an inspiring talk from Dodie Osteen—Osteen’s mother who was told she had a few weeks to live, and credits prayer and positive thinking with her still being alive and well 30+ years later—Osteen was the one the crowd wanted to see and hear.

“I have watched Joel on television for years,” said Kim Bradford, a teacher who, with her husband Corby, drove 90 minutes from Prescott, Arizona. “I love his comforting voice and the way he makes you feel. I have always wanted to see him in person.”

As he does during his weekly television sermon (seen in 100 nations), the charismatic Osteen used a unique combination of humor, humbleness, and passion to convince attendees that their happiness and success is dependent upon them, not other people or external forces. He focuses on key concepts such as "turning off negative internal recordings,” looking at each day as a new beginning, and forgetting/forgiving past mistakes.

Osteen’s recitations about his original hesitation to become leader of his father’s ministry, challenging business ventures (e.g., securing the Lakewood Church venue), and the need to create a “vision of victory” resonate with entrepreneurs. His successful multi-media empire (including successful retail of paraphernalia, like videos, books and tee-shirts, at the events) also serves as an impressive business role model.

Osteen made several encouraging references to the City of Phoenix being successful in 2014. “Happiness is a choice,” he said. “How you start the year determines how the rest of the year will go.” Westgate was teaming with people on a night, which, with no hockey game, might have been pretty slow. Osteen did his best to get Phoenix off to a good start in 2014.

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