Mac Engel

If J.J. Watt can do it for Houston, so can Joel Osteen

While Houston is swamped, a football player and a furniture giant have galvanized the masses to donate money, yet the city’s most visible Christian face has offered “his thoughts and prayers.”

Joel Osteen, don’t just rely on the social media savvy of Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (who has already raised more than $500,000) or the generosity of Gallery Furniture founder Jim McIngvale (who opened his stores as shelters) to help save your city.

As evidenced by the tragic images from the Harvey flooding, Houston needs more than your thoughts, Joel. Houston needs more than your prayers, Joel.

Houston needs more than your “Pray for Others” sermon that you offer on your church’s website. Houston needs more than, “We here at Lakewood are praying for your safety during this time and hope you can watch a service and be encouraged at one of the times listed below.”

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To speak your language, let us now turn to the Bible and Matthew 6:5: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

Surely, Joel, that’s not you.

Houston needs you, Joel, to do what Watt, McIngvale and others are doing right now: To get in this mess and help save a city that has been so good to you.

On this one, it’s OK to be a little self-serving and announce you are doing good. Houston just needs good.

Houston needs your “thoughts and prayers” but it also needs your reach and influence. It needs your ability to motivate, to inspire and to move. And, while you’re at it, to raise a little money, too. You’re good at that.

While you’re at it, you may want to cough up a few of your own dollars, too. Because, the last time I checked, your $10.5 million estate in Houston’s River Oaks suggests your book sales may have created a decent revenue stream. Don’t worry — you can write off the donation.

On Monday morning, the Houston Texans concluded practice that had to be moved to The Star in Frisco because of the flooding caused by Harvey.

“You feel helpless,” Watt told the large media gathering from both DFW and Houston. “It’s very difficult to watch your family, your friends, your city go through a time like this and not be there to help, not to be there to go through it with them.”

This isn’t empty grandstanding from a pulpit. Watt would rather be in Houston’s floodwaters than a dry hotel room in Frisco contemplating whether his football team will play a preseason game this week.

Since he arrived in Houston in 2011, Watt has hugged Houston, which embraced him equally. The man has embraced his role as a community leader and the face of a franchise. Not many defensive ends have ever done that.

On Sunday, he posted a Twitter message urging people to raise $200,000 to aid relief efforts. He also said he would donate $100K out of his own pocket.

After he hit $200,000, he raised the goal to $500,000. Then, in less than 24 hours, he said he hit $500,000. Now the goal is $1 million.

In his own estimation, it’s going to get worse before it improves in Houston. Only when city drains will we know the extent of this catastrophe.

“J.J. is one of the most selfless guys you’d ever see,” Texans quarterback Tom Savage said. “Everything helps.”

That’s the point for all of us, me included. Everything helps.

Great stressors expose our greatest flaws, to our unknown strengths.

Once again, Harvey has illustrated that even though most of us can’t agree on the direction of a sunrise, when it hits the fan we will be there for each other. We’re all Texans. We’re all Americans. We’re all just people who want to live one more day.

There is nothing more necessary or rewarding than to help a fellow man, woman, child or pet to see that day.

Despite whatever we may have achieved in our lives or how much money we may have earned, nothing will ever top the person in their bass boat motoring around Houston picking up frightened survivors and taking them to dry land.

And when you are in a position of great power and reach, it’s best to use that to lead, to inspire, to galvanize, to donate.

J.J. Watt gets it. So does Mack McIngvale, and lots of other Houstonians, Texans and Americans.

Joel Osteen, I know you get it.

So let us, Joel, turn to Hebrews 13:16: “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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