An Interview with Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the Pastor of Saddleback Church in California. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Purpose Driven Life“, which has sold more than 30 million copies.

Warren is also famous for hosting the Civil Forum on the Presidency at Saddleback Church, which was broadcast live on national television. The forum marked senators John McCain and Barack Obama‘s first joint appearance as the presumptive Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, respectively. Each candidate took the stage separately for about an hour to respond to Warren’s questions about faith and moral issues, including abortion and human rights.

In December 2008, President-elect Obama chose Warren to give the invocation speech and prayer at his inauguration ceremony, held on January 20, 2009.

Lately, Warren continues to receive a lot of wealth and notoriety from his book sales, however, his wife has been battling cancer. So he is someone who is experiencing the best and the worst of life. Warren’s testimony contains some fantastic insights that can give us a better perspective on life.

[Eds. note: Paul Bradshaw conducted this interview with Rick Warren.]


People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body – but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ-likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. The train needs both rails to stay on track. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems: If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is “my problem”, “my issues”, “my pain”. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. Even though you may be suffering, if you cannot help yourself, then why not help someone else who has the same problems that you do? That is a purpose!

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book (The Purpose Driven Life) sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases. Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation. Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do. That’s why we’re called “human beings”, not “human doings”.

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Attitude, Enduring Suffering, Leadership, Models of Success, Purpose, Stewardship and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to An Interview with Rick Warren

  1. Pingback: GOALS and PURPOSES! | Σ Frame

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s