Joel Osteen’s latest book, Break Out: 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life, isn’t for those who don’t like to be challenged in their faith beyond their boundaries.

A casual observer of Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church, might think that Osteen was always the bold orator that he is today. He speaks so effortlessly and with such strong authority, it would be easy to think that he has always been that way, but that isn’t the case.

Osteen is the son of the late John Osteen, the founder of Lakewood Church. He attended Oral Roberts University where he studied radio and television communication. When he returned home, he started up the television ministry of Lakewood Church. 

While John tried to get Joel to speak a sermon every once and while, Joel refused, saying that he’d work behind the scenes, which he did for 17 years. In 1999, John was able to convince Joel that he ought to speak. Joel did his first sermon on January 17 of that year. Ironically, John passed away of a heart attack that next week. Two weeks later, Joel was thrust into the senior pastor’s role at Lakewood Church, where the congregation grew and grew.

The native Texan could never have predicted this new life for himself or his church, and that is partially the basis of his new book, Break Out: 5 Keys to Go Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life

Osteen wrote his first book, Your Best Life Now, in 2004. It rose quickly to number one on the New York Times bestseller list and had a stay for more than two years on that list. Osteen had hit a nerve. In 2006, he was featured in the Barbra Walters’ list of the year’s 10 Most Fascinating People and was picked as the “Most Influential Christian” by the readers of Church Report Magazine.

Joel learned years ago that he wasn’t created to just “get by” with an average, unrewarding life. Fortunately, he believes the same for all Christians.

“You need to check doors that have been closed to you in the past,” Osteen says in his book. “Things have shifted. The dream you had to start a new business, to go back to college, to take a mission trip — it may not have happened the first time, but that’s okay. It’s prepared you for this time. Don’t give up. This is a new day. Things have shifted. Pursue your dream again.”

In a promotional video for Break Out, Joel says, “I wrote this book because it’s easy to get stuck in life to where we are not expecting anything more. We’re being held back by a barrier. A barrier is simply a thought that says, ‘I can’t rise any higher, I’ll never get well — the medical reports are too bad,’ ‘I can’t go any further in my career — I don’t have the education’.”

“The first place where we need to break out is our own thinking. We have to get rid of the thoughts ‘I can’t,’ ‘It will never happen,’ ‘I don’t got what it takes.’  In this book, I’ll show you how to have a new perspective, to believe bigger, how to pray God-sized prayers, how to get beyond those barriers and reach your full potential … I know that you’ll be inspired, you’ll be challenged. I will help you to break out and become everything you were meant to be.”

The books five key points are:

1. Daring to believe that the best will happen for us.
2. Adopting an irrepressible “break out” attitude.
3. How to make room for an increase.
4. How to pray bold prayers.
5. Following God’s plan beyond our circumstances.

It is not uncommon for one to hide behind a self-written “label” that holds one back. Some labels are given by others. Osteen promises to help readers to “break out” of these labels and refuse to settle for second or even third best. “When you break though in your mind, believing you can rise higher and overcome obstacles, then God will unleash the power within that will enable you to go beyond the ordinary into the extraordinary life you were designed to live,” says Osteen.

Is this pie-in-the-sky thinking? Possibly. But Joel’s words aren’t too different from what is written in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says Yahweh, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.”

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