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Megachurch co-pastor talks about tough times

  • Story Highlights
  • Victoria Osteen is co-pastor of Lakewood Church with husband, Joel Osteen
  • She wrote two children's books, one called "Unexpected Treasures"
  • "I think we could all do better sometimes of not overextending ourselves," she says
  • Victoria Osteen on financial stress: "Encourage them to reach into their faith"
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By Jacque Wilson
CNN
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(CNN) -- Her smiling face is broadcast to more than 20 million Americans each month -- yet Victoria Osteen still acts like your small-town Texan neighbor. She makes sure to ask how you're doing and what you did for the holidays before getting down to anything business-related.

"I know the people I've talked to are really valuing what they have right now," Victoria Osteen said.

"I know the people I've talked to are really valuing what they have right now," Victoria Osteen said.

As co-pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Joel, Victoria Osteen is an inspiration and mentor to many.

Her first book, "Love Your Life: Living Happy, Healthy and Whole," offers busy, distressed women advice on embracing joy. And her newly released children's books ("Unexpected Treasures" and "My Happy Heart Books") aim to help kids develop their character and friendships.

"You know, books are such a great way to spend time with your children, open lines of communication with your children, and just build that strong foundation," she said.

CNN talked with Victoria Osteen about the uncertain economy, common financial sins, and why encouragement is so important. The following is an edited version of that interview:

CNN: Your first book was released in October. Why did you write it? Who were you hoping to inspire?

Victoria Osteen: I've talked to so many people after the last 10 years, and I just found that there was a kind of thread that ran through every conversation.

Relationships are people's No. 1 priorities. They want to have good relationships and a lot of times they don't. Even in these uncertain times, these economic uncertainties, we have to be able to develop our relationships and our support systems.

So I addressed a lot of those issues, and just gave practical advice from my life and people I've talked to. So I just hoped to inspire people to just realize their influence, their value, and the fact that they can get even more out of their relationships and enjoy them.

CNN: Have you heard many stories about these difficult economic times?

Osteen: It's interesting, because we get so much uncertainty and get so stressed out, and I know the people I've talked to are really valuing what they have right now.

And they're starting with their relationships, with their children, with family. They're saying, "I want to focus on them, I don't want to be so distracted in what's going on that I can't spend time with my family." And I think that's what happens to us. We go through hard times and difficulties and those things seem to pass. But our relationships are there for a lifetime.

In times like this, we need each other and we need to support one another and encourage one another. We all need encouragement so it's good to have that strong support system.

CNN: How is religion affected in times like these? ... Do more people turn to God for hope? Or do they get discouraged because he's not doing enough?

Osteen: You know, sometimes I think these difficult situations can bring us back to what is important and maybe do some things that we should have done before in our life.

I find that people are coming back to their faith. They're depending on it, and they want to rediscover what's important. So I really think there's a lot of hope and a lot of encouragement out there. And people are wanting to say, you know, "We're going to get through these tough times, too." And their faith is a key here, it really is.

CNN: What are the main financial "sins" you see? What do people do over and over again that they could do better?

Osteen: I think we could all do better sometimes of not overextending ourselves as much. It's easy in our day and age to just extend ourselves in the credit line and things like that, but this [economic time] I think will bring people back -- "You know, I need to live within my means and be kind of careful with my money."

CNN: Do you have any advice for those that are suffering with personal finances or job loss?

Osteen: I would just encourage them to reach into their faith and reach out to God and to keep their family around them. I mean, I just think that is so important to keep a strong support system, to keep yourself encouraged. You know, when you get down and discouraged, you don't see any hope in a situation -- it doesn't help you rise above it.

And another thing ... extend our hand to someone else. You might not be able to help financially, but you can help someone maybe by just babysitting their children while they go on a job interview or, you know, just doing the simple things to get outside your own self and your own needs. Sometimes in need, when you reach out and meet someone else's need, it's amazing how it can change the atmosphere around you.

CNN: You travel around the country, spreading an uplifting message. How does it affect you to always have to be the positive one? Do you ever get tired of that or feel like things are bringing you down?

Osteen: Well, you know we all have to keep ourselves encouraged. I have to encourage myself every day because when you look at what's going on, you can just look down and say, "What's happening?" You know, you can let fear attach itself to you and fear is contagious -- when you get around it, it just seems to build on itself.

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The thing about it is that I've seen God do so many miracles for so many people. I talk to people everyday who this lord of encouragement has helped them stay above it all, so they can make good decisions. God can lead them in a better direction.

So because I've seen God do so many great things, it just helps me to say, "Stay encouraged" and "You can do it, don't give up." Because God's faithful, and I think that's what helps me continue to encourage other people.

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