Rick Warren, My HERO!

pdl I have found a new friend and mentor in Rick Warren, pastor of mega-church Saddleback in Lake Forest, CA and author of the mega-bestselling book, The Purpose-Driven Life (PDL). I have to tell you that I’ve never met Rick and though I’ve purchased PDL, I’ve only gotten as far as Day 26. You’re probably wondering then how he became my new friend and mentor. Well, I heard him this past Sunday (12/24) on Meet the Press with Tim Russert and his heart touched mine.

You see, since I’ve started writing Christian fiction, I’ve been torn about the affluence and influence that comes with being a best-selling author, not that I’ve reached any great height in either area — yet. Anyway, Rick spoke to my heart when he spoke about these two in his life on Meet the Press. As he spoke, I knew his words were for me from God. I want to share them with you. You can read the full transcript of the entire conversation here or view a video of the session here until Sunday, 12/31. It was an excellent session all around, but here I’m only going to excerpt what he said about affluence and influence. Here goes:

MR. RUSSERT: As we speak on this Christmas Eve morning, tonight. many Americans will be surrounded by an abundance of gifts. I was quite taken by something that you said, Pastor Warren, and I’ll put it on the screen. “I don’t think it’s a sin to be rich. I think it’s a sin to die rich.”

I was a goner right here. This hit my heart so strongly. Wealth is not about having and hoarding/keeping, but about giving.

MR. RUSSERT: Explain that.

DR. WARREN: Well, in my own personal life, when “The Purpose Driven Life” came out and it became the best-selling book for a long, long time in the world…

MR. RUSSERT: Twenty-five million copies.

A note here. If PDL sold 25 million copies (or 30 million as Rick corrects below), I’d guess that PDL has made over $50 million. Now that’s a lot of money.

DR. WARREN: …yeah, now 30. And it’s in 56 languages. Well, that brought in enormous amounts of money. And it also brought in a lot of attention. And I had to pray about what I call the stewardship of affluence and the stewardship of influence. And I began to go to Scripture, and I, I found a verse in the New Testament on what to do with the money, and a verse in the Old Testament on what to do with the, the fame. And on—in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul—Apostle Paul says, “Those who teach the gospel should make a living by the gospel.” In other words, “It’s OK to pay your priest or your pastor.” That’s a legitimate offer to society. But, Paul says, “I will not accept that right, because I want the freedom to serve God and be a slave to no man.” And I thought, “I want to do this.” And when, literally, when all this money started pouring in, Kay and I make five decisions on what to do with the money.

First, we said, we’re not going to spend it on ourselves. I still live in the same house I’ve lived in 15 years, I drive a six-year-old Ford truck. I don’t own a boat, I don’t own a house—a second house. I don’t own—I don’t own a plane. We just said we’re not going to—I’m not going to spend it on that. A second was I stopped taking a salary from Saddleback Church about four years ago. Third is, I added up all that the church had paid me in 24 years at that time and I gave it all back. And I did that because I knew that I was being put under the spotlight and I didn’t want anybody to question my motives of why I do what I do. And sure enough, the very next week I was interviewed by Time. . .

I cut a short quip about Time magazine here. You can read it in the full transcript.

DR. WARREN: And the first question the author—the editor—the reporter asked was, “What’s your salary?” Which I thought, OK, here’s another fat cat megachurch pastor fleecing the flock. And I said, “Well, honestly, I’ve now served my church for free for 25 years.” Her face went white and I thought, it was worth every penny just to say that. You know, I had to repent of my pride, but I really felt good for about a minute. You know, and then I got real humble again. But I did that. Then we set up some charities, one’s called Acts of Mercy, which helps those with AIDS. And another on training leaders and another on this Global Peace Plan.

MR. RUSSERT: What did the New Testament tell you about celebrity?

Not so quick, Tim. Rick’s still telling us about the stewardship of affluence.

DR. WARREN: The last thing I did is we became reverse tithers. When my wife and I got married 31 years ago, we started giving 10 percent of our income as a tithe to our church. And each year we would raise it at least 1 percent. Now, we never told anybody for over 30 years–25, 28 years. We’ve been married 31 years and, and the first year of marriage we raised it to 11 percent. Second year to 12. Well, we’ve now been married 31 years, we give away 90 percent and we live on 10. And honestly, that’s quite fun. The joy of giving at Christmastime—I really do belive in the joy of giving. I’m probably the happiest person on the planet because we get to use money in so many great ways. You can’t outgive God.

Can’t you see why this guy is my hero? How many of us think about affluence this way? Now let’s hear about the stewardship of influence.

DR. WARREN: On the, on the stewardship of affluence, I was reading Psalms 72 and it’s an interesting prayer, it’s Solomon’s prayer for more influence. When you read this prayer, it sounds like the most egotistical prayer because he says, “God, I want you to make me famous.” He says, “I want you to spread the fame of my name to many countries. I want you to give me power, give me blessing and make we well-known.” And it sounds pretty selfish till you read the, the motivation and he says, “So that king may support the widow and orphan, defend the defenseless, care for the sick, assist the poor, speak up for the oppressed, the immigrant, the foreigner,” things like that. The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence, and that changed my life. It turned my old—I had to repent and said I will spend the rest of my life using whatever influence I’ve got for those who have little influence.

And Rick’s words changed my thinking. The purpose of the celebrity that comes with selling a lot of books is not to build self-importance or to sell more books, but to speak up for those with no influence and to build up the kingdom. I’ve wondered about the wisdom of church groups who invite people to speak just because they’d sold a lot of books. It seemed as though they were equating financial success with godly wisdom, which is a dangerous association to make. Listening to Rick, I began to understand that influence open doors that can be used for godly purposes. You may have already understood this, but I’m a bit slow. 🙂

As I look ahead to 2007, I feel more ready for any affluence and influence God may send my way, because I have some concrete examples of how to best use them for His glory. I thank Rick Warren for sharing them with me.

That said, I’m starting The Purpose Driven Life again on January 1. Anybody want to join in with me? You can get the first seven days of readings online here. Each day’s reading ends with a series of questions so the online readings will take us through the first week and then we’ll need the book. You can get the book just about everywhere, including local discount stores, bookstores, Rick Warren’s web site and online bookstores. It’s up to you.

Let me know if you’re interested and we can do this together. I know this is short notice so if you want to join with me but you want to wait until January 8 to start, just let me know and we’ll go with what works best for people.

Happy New Year!

13 thoughts on “Rick Warren, My HERO!

  1. Thanks for sharing this! It blessed me.

    Being married to a pastor–and not a fat cat, megachurch pastor either–I have no problem with pastors getting compensated. Most of the folks who do don’t think about the 24 hour/7 day a week work day, about all the problems that are brought and dumped at the pastor’s feet, burdening not only him (yes, it comes with the territory and he accepts that) but also his family. They don’t think about the time and energy away from his family, even when he’s with them but so drained that he’s got nothing left to give.
    So I don’t have a problem with them being blessed monetarily for the work that they do, the service that they give.

    Nonetheless, we too wish to grow in Christ. I love when Pastor Warren says he had to repent because folks forget that the pastor is human too, and thereby subject to the same sins and temptations. Should I ever publish and moreover, should I ever reap some financial blessings beyond our needs, I hope to take courage in Pastor Warren’s words and act in a similar way. I’m printing the transcript to share with my husband.

  2. Wow! What a testimony from this man. I guess I’ve never thought of either affluence or influence in quite this way but I have agreed with the spirit of what he says about affluence.

    Yes, I’ve wanted enough money to live on and be comfortable and healthy and have no debts. But I’ve never thought of the influence apart from the affluence. But it’s true, we should try to influence others as God puts them in our way and that’s not what I’ve been doing in my “poverty”. I’m always complaining that I can’t pay for my hydro which went through the roof this summer and I’m just reaping that this month. Since November I get $CD1034 a month. My hydro “overuse” was taken from my account on Friday to the tune of $591.61. That leaves me with less than $470 for rent, food, and everything else I’ll need until the last business day of January.

    Now it is the landlord’s fault that I’ve landed in this pickle: when the consumption suddenly tripled for no reason I could see, I told him about it. But he didn’t really bother to find out why this was happening. It took me until August sometime to figure it out: the refrigerator was running continuously. I asked him to get a new fridge. It wasn’t until sometime in October that he really believed me and got one.

    Now I’m not trying to tell you all my woes here as such–okay, maybe I am a bit–but in light of this “influence” revelation, I really didn’t act well. Maybe it was that I was getting desperate. But anyway, I was complaining to everybody about it instead of taking it as part of what God was teaching me and telling people that I know somehow God will take care of me through all this. I know that my siblings will never let me be without a roof over my head or without food, but I hate having to rely on them. They’ve spent a lot on me already and are paying off my one credit card bill that did not fall under the bankruptcy act when I declared bankruptcy in March. I thank God that is all paid off as of December, i.e., my bankruptcy payments. Now it’s just the c/c and this hydro that I have to deal with.

    I know that I had to go through all this for a reason–God’s reason. I must honestly say that the months since August 2005 have been the most stressful in my whole life–that I can remember, though my mother would probably have said the first two years of my life. There were times when I really thought I couldn’t take any more.

    However, I should have taken it all with more grace and positive thinking in the knowledge that God will never forsake me and influenced others with that thought. But then maybe I had to learn that first-hand as well.

    My life, apart from this hydro thing which I think the landlord should at least pay in part, is looking up. I’m moving from this little hole downstairs into a more “real” apartment with 2 bedrooms upstairs. The building has been sold and the new owner(s) wants to renovate the first floor and convert the present beauty salon, which closed its doors yesterday–yay–into a dollar store. Seems a little small for that but it might work since there are a lot of poorer people around here who can’t pay a lot for quality–I’m one of them and who knows how long I’ll still live to enjoy quality.

    I must say that I never trusted Christians, especially preachers, who lived the high style. There was something “unchristian” about them to me. I know that a lot of the poorer people think so too. I have never wanted to live that way either, comfortably yes, but not with property around everywhere. So that influenced me negatively. It was not how I was brought up. But speaking-out influence is certainly one thing I’ve not used a lot. Whenever I was financially able to spare $30 or so a month, I “adopted” children through Compassion.

    The highlight of my trip to the Dominican Republic, and one of the things that was on the top of my agenda from the time I first heard we were going, was to see one of their projects. It was both exhilarating and heartbreaking. Exhilarating in how most of these children looked healthy and happy; heartbreaking to learn that many of them had been abused physically and mentally if not sexually. I don’t think I’ll ever forget one little 6-year-old girl who was so tiny and hardly moved a muscle the whole time we were in the class for the youngest. I don’t know if she was just intimidated by our arrival or if it was for another reason but she alone of all the class didn’t join in when we were taking pictures of the youngsters. I wish I could have spoken with her. This class was looked after by a grandmother and a motherly woman and I tried to express to them how wonderful I found their work. The older woman kept hugging me and made me feel that even on that one day we had made a difference.

    I must add that this is not an orphanage. It’s a school which children can attend after their own school to learn about Christ and to learn English but it is supported by Compassion, the U.S. branch. Since my brother has done quite a bit of work for Compassion Canada, he asked if there was any project we could see. This is where we went. It was a project started by a church in one of the more northern states and put under the umbrella of Compassion. The children had come especially to meet us since they actually had holidays. So that was definitely one of the best parts of the last 16 months–seeing what God and his servants are doing in these young lives.

    As for the book, I’d like to do it with you. Too bad I didn’t look at this until today in response to your monthly notice. I was almost just going to delete it because there hadn’t been anything new for so long. I’m glad I came to have a look. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I think it’s a very important lesson for all of us. I was just at the Christian bookstore on Friday where I also looked for “Simply Divine”. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available in Canada though they could special-order it for me from the States. In view of the fact that Hydro just automatically took out that huge amount, for me at least, I’m glad I didn’t but for a few weeks I’ll scrounge around to see whether I can come up with the book some other way–libraries, etc. However, I can’t promise that I’ll be able to keep up since I’m in the process of moving and cleaning out some things.

    Please pray for me that I’ll have the energy–need less sleep–and fortitude to manage all this in the next month. I’m glad you’re back on line. When those messages come, I always look in but it’s been a while since I’ve seen anything new. Hope you’re doing well and getting settled in your new surroundings. God bless you in the new year.

  3. Patricia and Sigrun, thanks for sticking with me and not giving up on me during my absence. I’m blessed to know that this post has been a blessing to you both for Rick Warren was certainly a blessing to me. I’ll pray for you both in the new year. Keep in touch!

    Sigrun, don’t forget you can get the first seven days of readings from the Purpose Drive Life web site. Look for the link in my original post.


  4. I’d like to do the book with you. The Lord had put it on my heart to go through the book because I started it in 2004 and never finished it. I beleive He had me read this, rather than delete it as part of my overflowing mailbox, because being accountable to you and this group will help me to stick with it. I need your prayers – I have Sunday school teacher work, college work, and housework – as well as wife work and mother work (just because they’re grown and gone doesn’t mean our job is over.)

  5. Great, Charlotte! RIght now, you, me and Sigrun are on board. I’ll post later tonight or first thing in the morning about the first day and then I’ll post again around the last day of the week. How does that sound?

    It’s great to have you both with me. I need to be accountable, too! It’s not too late for others to join. Remember, you can get the first seven days of readings from the web site. Check my original post for the link.


  6. I was reading the email that comes to me, and was glad I had an opportunity to get the information on Meet the Press regarding the interview with Rick Warren. God tell us in His word it is more of a blessing to “Give” ….The article opened up my understanding to giving even more.

    I have the Purpose Driven Life, and I had started it on (2) ocassions;however, never completed it. I will read the 1st Chapter before going to bed tonight.

    I will join with you, and pray that I will be able to see it throught this time.

  7. Hi Angela and everyone. Happy 2007! Count me in. Like some of you, I’ve started before and not finished…not even close. I signed on for Angela’s exercise challenge a while back and got nowhere with that either. When I first read this post, I thought maybe I’d try it. But then I realized I didn’t know where my copy of the book was. Good excuse not to do this, right? Earlier today when I was NOT looking for it, God showed me where it was. Ok, ok – I get the message. Thanks, Angela, for the challenge. Alright, accountability partners, let’s do this!

  8. God Bless everyone and Happy New Year!!!!! God must have sent me to read your post Angela about Purpose Driven Life because I was talking to the Lord the other night and that book came to my heart. For a while I have been praying to God to reveal to me what He has for me to do on this earth, that I did not want to work 8-5 behind a desk my whole life. I pretty much did what Solomn did (like what was stated by Dr. Warren above) and just asked for what I wanted. I told the Lord that I wanted to retire from the U of I (I am only 24, and have been working one year since college) in five years, yes five, and I wanted to work for Him full time spreading the Gospel of Jesus. I also asked the Lord to bless me financially to bless my church first, my parents, and then people less fortunate. My prayer was pretty much the way Dr. Warren and his wife are using their fortune, to bless those who have less. I believe I will be used by God to spread the word in many ways, through Christian writing, evangelizing and teaching. See, I used to be afraid to ask God for wealth and riches, but now I know I serve a God that owns everything, and I am His child. So I go before the Lord boldly asking like Matthew 7:7 told me I could. And I know that God can do exceeding abundantly above all I ask or think, according to the POWER that worketh in ME (Eph 3:20). I have the power to go before the Lord and ask, and it shall be given according to His will. I believe my husband and I have a great work for the Lord. Also Angela, I have sent you a personal email about writing a book. I truly feel the Lord is leading me toward Christian writing and I need a true mentor if you do not mind. God bless you all, I plan on purchasing this book this weekend and reading what is already posted on this site. I love you all and God Bless!!

  9. Okay okay, I know I’m late. Headed out of the country in six days, so I’ve been busy, busy busy but I DO want to participate. I’m going to try to read as much as I can on this missions trip and I will post when I return. I won’t have access to the Internet where I’m going in Haiti. But count me in! 🙂

  10. Greetings Angela,

    I just found this post and it is definitely a blessing for me. On Sunday, I invited over six women who are some of my dearest friends. Our mission was to write down our goals for 2007 and share them with one another so that we can be accountability partners all through the year. We’ll meet face to face quarterly (outside of our regular get togethers) and keep in touch via phone and email to make sure we’re keeping each other on task.

    One of my goals was to put God first instead of me, with regard to how I view the future of my Christian fiction writing career. I don’t want to get caught up in thinking people are praising me when all the glory should go to God. I don’t want to forget who put the words in my head to put on the page and forsake the Lord. And then being able to read the excerpts from the Pastor Warren interview and also read your comments, well, that just ministered to me! Thank you Angela for letting God use you to share this Rhema word.

    God bless and keep you!

    Veronica Johnson

    p.s. We met at the first Faith Based Fiction Lovers Weekend in N.C. I was the very pregnant woman from Atlanta. The baby was a little girl whose name is Jocelyn and she’s now 2-years-old.

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