Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

Thinking

When Christian leaders become ambitious, things get tough. Often other people will mistake our ambition for pride or presumption. But Jesus was ambitious about building his church. Paul was ambitious about pressing toward the prize. Joshua was ambitious about taking the promised land. The fact is, God responds to bold, audacious vision and ambition in a leader.

So what could be holding your ambition back?

We tend to confuse humility with fear.

Humility is not denying your strengths. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. All of us are a bundle of both great strengths and great weaknesses; humility is being able to be honest about both. Paul was able say, “Follow me as I follow Christ,” because he was honest about his weaknesses. In addition he said, “I’m the chief among sinners.” So he writes down both his strengths and his weaknesses.

God wants you to be humble, but he does not want you to be fearful. And to not accomplish anything is not humility, but fear. Don’t worry about God humbling you. He has plenty ways to do that. Worry that you might not be all that he wants you to be because of fear.

We…

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Relationships are like bridges in that they have to be built intentionally. They carry a lot of weight. A relationship can break down from neglect, conflict, or from misunderstanding. 

Is there a way to repair the breech, to rebuild the bridge, to restore the relationship?

The good news is almost any relationship can be repaired with one simple key. This is a quality we don’t talk about much. We don’t hear about it much in our society. It certainly isn’t covered much on television. It’s rarely ever demonstrated today. 

The secret to great relationships, the Bible tells us, is humility. 1 Peter 5:5 says, “Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (NIV).

You’re not dressed for successful relationships until you’ve learned the quality of humility.

The cross shows that you are infinitely valuable but you are also deeply flawed. Humility is keeping those two things in balance. Humility is having a realistic evaluation of yourself. It is not denying your strengths but it’s being honest about your weaknesses. 

Humility, essentially, is loving God and loving other people, thinking about God and thinking about other people more than yourself. 

One…

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Success

Success can ruin a ministry. I’ve seen it happen too many times. It sounds strange. We plan for success, we dream about success, and – most importantly – we pray for success. Yet when it comes, we often self-destruct.

God blesses our ministry. Our church grows. People respond to our preaching. Hurting people are helped. At first, we’re just excited to see God work. We’re just pointing people to him. But then we’re tempted to turn our eyes off of God and put them on ourselves. In a matter of time, success can erode our ministry.

It doesn’t just happen to senior pastors of big churches, either. Whether you’re at a church of 20 or 20,000, you could be next.

I understand the temptation. When I came to Orange County to start Saddleback in 1980, I dreamed big. You can read in The Purpose Driven Church about the vision I presented to the church on the very first Sunday. God gave me a vision of a church with tens of thousands of people in it. In the first 25 years of the church, God fulfilled every promise he gave me before I started…

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Baptisms at Saddleback Church

At Saddleback Church, we’ve always given a lot of attention to baptism, and I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve had so many baptisms over the years. A little boy asked me one time, “When can I get advertised?” That’s the mindset I want our congregation to have about baptism: “When can I get advertised? When can I publicly proclaim that I’m a believer in Jesus Christ?”

The most basic way I spotlight baptism at Saddleback is by talking regularly in my sermons about the value, the purpose, and the benefits of baptism. The sermon doesn’t have to be specifically focused on baptism to make the connection either.

We have found that a sizeable number of people intend to be baptized, but they never do it. They say, “I’ll do it next month,” but then the next month they forget. So any time I promote baptism, I challenge people to commit on the spot to being baptized. There are a couple ways I do this.

First, during our services, we give everyone a card that includes a place where people can indicate a desire to be baptized. Asking people for a commitment…

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Photo Credit: Aaron Burden

If you want your church to have the impact of the early church, the New Testament shows us eight essential characteristics we need in our congregations.

Rely on supernatural power

“Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:3-4 NLT).

We don’t just talk about God; we experience him. This is what makes the church different from every other organization on the planet. We have the Holy Spirit.

Microsoft doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The United States government doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. The Red Cross doesn’t have the Holy Spirit. No other organization has the power of God in it. God promised his Spirit to help his church.

Use everybody’s language

“And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability” (Acts 2:4 NLT).

This passage isn’t about speaking in tongues. It’s about the Gospel being communicated in real languages. People actually heard the early Christians speak in their…

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Slow

You don’t have to be a prophet to know that technology has ­­made the world smaller, more complex, and faster. You live a much faster lifestyle than your parents did. Your children will live an even faster lifestyle than you do.

As you and I know, pastors aren’t immune to time pressures. With meetings, ever-shrinking sermon preparation, and a crowded pastoral care schedule, our office calendar can stay full if we’re not careful. Then we get home and rush our kids to after-school events, grab a quick dinner, run to the hospital, go home, jump in bed, and hope there are no late-night phone calls.

We can identify with what a USA Today article said about life for many people. “Today people are souped up, stressed out, and over scheduled. In this brave new world boundaries between work and family are disappearing. Everybody is mobile and every moment is scheduled.”

The Bible tells us that hurry and worry and scurry have dramatic negative effects on our life and ministries. If you’re serious about slowing your life down to a more humane pace of life, you’re going to have to make five countercultural changes in…

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You can be a homebuilder, bodybuilder, reputation builder, or a retirement-nest-egg builder. None of those things will last, but there is something that’s going to last for eternity, something you can put your efforts into now that will last forever.

You can be a people builder.

The Bible encourages us to do just that in Romans 15:2, where it says, “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up” (NIV).

How do you build your people? The key is kindness – giving people what they need, not what they deserve.

If you consider the way Jesus built people up, he did four things, and you can do these same four things as you encourage members of your congregation.

1. Give them a personal challenge.

Ephesians 4:1 says, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (NIV).

Paul is saying, don’t waste your life – make it count. Be all that God made you to be.

Challenge your members to live beyond themselves and to discover their strengths and abilities. God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing…

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You can have a thriving ministry without a thriving relationship with God, but only temporarily. Anyone can fake it in the short run, but to go the distance, you need a passionate devotional life and continual closeness to Jesus. Often, pastors tend to allow the busyness of ministry and the necessity of studying for sermon preparation to replace a real, personal walk with Jesus. But God wants better for you.

Three Ts for a thriving walk with Jesus . . .

1.  Time

It takes time to get to know somebody. I know Jesus Christ a whole lot better than I did 5 years ago or 10 years ago or 20 years ago. It just takes time. When you spend time with Jesus, it doesn’t make you more religious. It makes you more natural. In fact, God doesn’t want you to be religious. He wants you to be you.

You can’t develop an intimate relationship with anybody in a crowd. My wife tells me this all the time. My favorite joy is to greet people on our church’s patio and talk to 100 different people. Meanwhile Kay would like to get with one person and…

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Purpose Tree

God formed every creature on this planet with a special area of expertise. Some animals run, some hop, some swim, some burrow, and some fly. Each has a particular role to play based on the way it was shaped by God. The same is true with humans. Each of us was uniquely designed, or shaped, to do certain things.

Before architects design any new building, they first ask, “What will be its purpose? How will it be used?” The intended function always determines the form of the building. Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.

The Bible says, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works . . . ”   Our English word “poem” comes from this Greek word translated “workmanship.” You are God’s handcrafted work of art. You are not an assembly line product, mass produced without thought. You are a custom designed, one-of-a-kind, original masterpiece.

God never…

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Race

Ministry is a marathon: it’s not how you start in ministry; it’s how you finish.

If you look at 2 Corinthians 4:1-18, Paul gives seven suggestions for finishing the race:

Remember God’s mercy (v. 1): God has given us our ministries. We don’t have to prove our worth through our ministry, and we don’t have to wallow in our mistakes. You don’t have to earn your place as a pastor or leader in the church.

Be truthful and honest in all you do (v. 2): Maintain your integrity because integrity produces power in your life, while guilt zaps your energy. You need to finish with your character intact. Your integrity includes how you handle the Word of God. Don’t distort it or make it confusing.

Be motivated to work for Jesus’ sake, not out of selfish desires (v. 5): We need a right motivation. A lot of guys start off as servants and end up celebrities. You need to learn to live your life for an audience of one, and that one is Jesus Christ.

Realize that Christians are only human (v. 7): We must accept our limitations, and the quickest way to burn out is…

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God wants you to grow up.

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything” (Ephesians 4:15 The Message).

“We are not meant to remain as children ….” (Ephesians 4:14 Phillips).

Your heavenly Father’s goal is for you to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ, living a life of love and humble service.  Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up.  They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties. The reason is because they never intended to grow.

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing.

Discipleship – the process of becoming like Christ – always begins with a decision.

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him” (Matthew 9:9 ESV).

When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation. That’s all you need…

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Achievers

Men are wired for achievement. Ultimately, God made us this way so that we would pursue and achieve his purposes for our lives.

But there are a lot of reasons why men struggle to achieve the goals for which God made them.

  • We’re easily distracted by both opportunities and threats.
  • We’re criticized when we choose to follow God’s plan at any cost.
  • We’re often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of manhood.

Here are some words of wisdom for men who want to fulfill their God-given destinies and achieve his purposes . . .

1. Keep on working in spite of the distractions.

There are multiple kinds of distractions men face. Some are subtle and some are obvious, but we manage, often, to fall for both.

Positive distractions come in the form of opportunities to do more things than we were made to do. Often, these are “good” opportunities, except that they aren’t the opportunities God has led us to pursue. We get busy. We get overwhelmed. And we start finding our identity in work and business and secondary pursuits.

Negative distractions come in the form of enticement to sin, to slack off from our responsibilities, or to substitute our own…

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