In 1985, Meyer resigned as associate pastor and founded her own ministry, initially called "Life in the Word." She began airing her radio show on six other stations from Chicago to Kansas City.
In 1993, her husband Dave suggested that they start a television ministry. Initially airing on superstation WGN-TV in Chicago and Black Entertainment Television (BET), her program, now called Enjoying Everyday Life, is still on the air today.
In 2004 St. Louis Christian television station KNLC, operated by the Rev. Larry Rice of New Life Evangelistic Center, dropped Meyer's programming. According to Rice, a longstanding Meyer supporter, Meyer's "excessive lifestyle" and her teachings often going "beyond Scripture" were the impetus for canceling the program.
In 2005, Time magazine's "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America" ranked Meyer as 17th.
Meyer speaks humorously, sharing with her audience her own shortcomings and taking playful jabs at stereotypical church behavior. A particular crowd favorite is the "robot" routine, in which she goes into a stiff-armed imitation of a robot chanting "What about me? What about me?"
According to Joyce Meyer Ministries, Meyer earned her doctoral degree from Life Christian University, an unaccredited institution in Tampa, Florida. Meyer has been given an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity by Oral Roberts University, an accredited institution in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Meyer, who owns several homes and travels in a private jet, has been criticized by some of her peers for living an excessive lifestyle. She responded that she doesn't have to defend her spending habits because "...there's no need for us to apologize for being blessed." Meyer commented, "You can be a businessman here in St. Louis, and people think the more you have, the more wonderful it is...but if you’re a preacher, then all of a sudden it becomes a problem."
In November 2003, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published a four-part special report detailing Meyer's "$10 million corporate jet, her husband’s $107,000 silver-gray Mercedes sedan, her $2 million home and houses worth another $2 million for her four children," a $20 million headquarters, furnished with "$5.7 million worth of furniture, artwork, glassware, and the latest equipment and machinery," including a "$30,000 malachite round table, a $23,000 marble-topped antique commode, a $14,000 custom office bookcase, a $7,000 Stations of the Cross in Dresden porcelain, a $6,300 eagle sculpture on a pedestal, another eagle made of silver bought for $5,000, and numerous paintings purchased for $1,000 to $4,000 each," among many other expensive items – all paid for by the ministry. The articles prompted Wall Watchers (a Christian nonprofit watchdog group) to call on the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to investigate Meyer and her family.
Joyce Meyer Ministries says it has made a commitment to maintain transparency in financial dealings, publish their annual reports, have a Board majority who are not Meyer relatives and submit to a voluntary annual audit. On December 18, 2008, this ministry received a "C" grade (71–80 score) for financial transparency from Ministry Watch.
Joyce Meyer Ministries was one of six investigated by the United States Senate inquiry into the tax-exempt status of religious organizations by Senator [Chuck Grassley]. The inquiry sought to determine if Meyer made any personal profit from financial donations, asking for a detailed accounting for such things as cosmetic surgery and foreign bank accounts and citing such expenses as the $23,000 commode mentioned earlier. Grassley also requested that Meyer's ministry make the information available by December 6, 2007. Joyce Meyer Ministries responded with a newsletter to its e-mail list subscribers on November 9, 2007. The organization referred to its annual financial reports, asserting that, in 2006, the ministry spent 82 percent of its total expenses "for outreach and program services toward reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as attested by independent accounting firm Stanfield & O'Dell, LLP." The message also quoted an October 10, 2007, letter from the Internal Revenue Service which stated, "We determined that you [Joyce Meyer Ministries] continue to qualify as an organization exempt from federal income tax under IRC section 501(c)(3)." The same information was also posted to the ministry website. Joyce Meyer Ministries was one of two ministries to comply with the Senate's requests for financial records. It also made commitments to future financial transparency. Neither party were found to have done any wrongdoing.
In 2009, Joyce Meyer Ministries received accreditation from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). In an announcement on March 12, 2009, the ECFA said that Joyce Meyer Ministries and Oral Roberts University had met their requirements of "'responsible stewardship', which involves ministries' financial accountability, transparency, board governance and fund-raising practices."
"...there's no need for us to apologize for being blessed." Meyer commented, "You can be a businessman here in St. Louis, and people think the more you have, the more wonderful it is...but if you’re a preacher, then all of a sudden it becomes a problem."
The organization referred to its annual financial reports, asserting that, in 2006, the ministry spent 82 percent of its total expenses "for outreach and program services toward reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as attested by independent accounting firm Stanfield & O'Dell, LLP."