Recently, Victoria Osteen, wife of mega-church pastor motivational speaker, Joel Osteen, said, "When we obey God, we're not doing it for God...we're doing it for ourself. Because God takes pleasure when we're happy. Do good 'cause God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God, really. You're doing it for yourself because that's what makes God happy."

She's taking some heat for it in the Christian community -- and rightfully so, I think. While I believe she is THEOLOGICALLY incorrect in her statement, I think she is PRACTICALLY correct.

She's theologically incorrect because God is not dependent upon US in order for HIM to be happy.  God is fully pleased within Himself whether we are happy or not.  God said of Jesus at his baptism and transfiguration: "This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased."

However, I want to give Victoria a smidgen of credit -- because I think she's more correct than many Christians are willing to admit.  How many people attend worship services on a regular to semi-regular basis than to (1)feel good about ourselves or (2)look good in others' eyes? 

How many attend in hopes to earn points with God on some mysterious "goodness scale"? 
How many attend out of mere habit and ritual?
How many attend because we think God will be more pleased with us, and therefore give us what we want in life?
How many attend because our public image might be sullied if we aren't "in church" on any given week?
How many attend out of a desire for "political expediency"?  "Will this give me more votes from the religious right in the coming election?"

With that, I think Mrs. Osteen is right on, for many of us ARE "doing it for ourselves".

I would suggest that if we simply "attend" worship services, then we may be in serious trouble.  If that is the case, we better do some serious introspection to determine if we are even in Christ Jesus.  The following questions, while not an exhaustive list, may help us:

Do we desire to worship our Creator and hear from Him via His written and spoken word?
Do we desire to be involved in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Do we worship and hear from God any other days of the week than Sunday?
Do we gather together in order to pray for and encourage one another in Christ?
Do we worship when times (health, finances, etc) are good AND bad?

Christian, it is my hope and prayer that we recognize our complete need for God, that we depend upon Him for everyday life and breath.  It is my prayer that we recognize our brothers and sisters in Christ depend upon us to be there.  We need each other to walk with, to encourage, and to give counsel in the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The gospel isn't just for "getting people saved", but is for the daily lives of the blessed saints of God -- and THAT'S why we praise Him!


  1. You've hit the proverbial nail on the head.

    I think she did, too. I go to a non-denominational church with a very talent worship team, and I believe when people really get into "worship" because they are really digging the music is probably more for the "feel good" for themselves than the worship of God. I'm sure they feel better afterwards, whether from emotional euphoria or from an encounter with God I would not want to judge. I do not know their hearts, but I don't see them ever getting that worked up about praising God unless there's some music playing.

    I think worship is from the heart and shouldn't just happen on Sunday morning during singing, but we should honor Him all through the week, in our our daily lives, in our cars (keeping a good attitude even when folks cut us off and cause us to slam on our breaks), alone in the shower, being kind to others while grocery shopping, gently telling he cashier he didn't give you enough change at the gas pump...etc.

  2. VERY good points. Too much of worship is about what we want and like...not focusing on God. All of us are guilty here I think at some point.