Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

What God Starts He Finishes

Before Saddleback moved to its present location, we bought a big chunk of land. While I thought at the time it was a dream come true, it turned out there were giants in the land.

The county began heaping on ridiculous requirements. First they wanted to allow us to build on only nine acres of the property.

Then they instructed us to build a berm — an eight foot ridge of dirt — along the front of the property to hide the building.

Then they decided we’d need to move 150 trees from the back of the property to the front of the property and plant them on that berm.

Next, they told us we couldn’t build a 7,000-seat worship center. Instead, we could build a 1,000-seat worship center and have seven services.

Then they demanded that we put in a charcoal filtration water system so that the water that ran off the parking lot would be nice and pure as it went into the gutter.

Then they told us we couldn’t build a parking lot. We’d have to build a parking garage.

Finally, they decided we couldn’t build a preschool because “that’s not a legitimate…

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Knowing Whom You're Trying to Please

You can’t please everybody. Just about the time you get one group of people pleased, another group gets mad at you. Even God doesn’t please everyone.

Jesus lived with a singular purpose: to please the Father. He said in John 5:30, “I cannot do anything on my own. The Father sent me, and he is the one who told me how to judge. I judge with fairness, because I obey him, and I don’t just try to please myself” (CEV).

When you don’t know whom you’re trying to please, you cave in to criticism because you’re wondering what everybody else is going to think about you.

You also cave in to competition because you’re worried whether somebody else is getting ahead of you.

And you cave in to conflict because somebody disagrees with you and you don’t know whom you’re trying to please. You give in to keep them happy with you.

A long time ago, I decided that in my life, I want to please one person: Jesus Christ. If I focus in on just pleasing God, my life will be simplified. Pleasing God will always be the right thing to do….

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Thriving in Ministry Leadership

A lot of ministries begin with a bang, then explode with new growth. But after the initial growth, they plateau. I have seen this repeated thousands of times from pastors I’ve talked with over the years.

God doesn’t want ministries to stagnate. Not only does he want them to succeed, but he also wants us to succeed as ministry leaders.

To help us achieve this goal, God has given us examples of errors to avoid — seven common traps of leadership that Satan is most likely to use to keep your ministry from becoming all that God wants it to be.

1. You stop growing personally

Whenever you find yourself resisting a new way of doing something, defending the status quo, or opposing a change that God has told you to make, watch out — you’re about to lose your place of leadership.

What’s the key to overcoming this leadership trap? You must continue developing your skills, your character, your perspective, your vision, your heart for God, and your dependence upon him.

Never stop learning. Read and reread the Bible. Listen to podcasts and sermons. Read books and blogs and magazines. Attend conferences and seminars.

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Leadership

When you become a pastor, you become a leader.

I’m often asked specifics about my administrative style, but I think leadership style is just as important. Understanding basic, universal leadership concepts is essential to your success.

Here are six non-negotiable facts about leadership . . .

1. Nothing happens until someone provides leadership for it.

This is a law of life. For instance, the Civil Rights Movement made little progress until a man came along named Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “I have a dream.” The NASA space program was quite limited until John F. Kennedy said, “We’re going to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade.”

Saddleback Church started because God said, “Rick, I want you to be a leader and get the thing off the ground.” When problems arise in your own family, nothing happens until somebody assumes leadership and says, “We’re going to do something about it.”

Everything rises or falls on leadership, and many problems can be traced to a lack of competent leadership.

I believe one of the greatest problems today is a leadership shortage within our churches.

2. Leadership is influence.

If I had to summarize leadership in one word,…

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Up Steps

One of the ways I believe you can assess whether or not your church is maturing spiritually is this: The standards for leadership keep getting tougher as time passes. You keep turning up the heat every year, requiring a deeper level of commitment to Christ and spiritual growth.

Every time you raise the standards for leadership, you bring everyone else in the church along a little bit. A rising tide raises all the boats in the harbor.

Focus on raising the commitment of your leadership, not those who are the least committed in the crowd or even the semi-committed in your congregation. Whenever you raise the standard of commitment for those who are in the most visible positions of leadership, it raises the expectations among everyone else.

You must ask people for commitment

If you don’t ask people for commitment, you won’t get it. You have not because you ask not.

It’s amazing to me that many community organizations require more from participants than local churches do. If you’ve ever been a Little League parent, you know that when your child signed up to play, you were required to make a major commitment in terms of providing…

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Growth

The New Testament says a lot about the health of the church. Consider just a few verses:

“As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing” (Ephesians 4:16 NLT).

“The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church” (2 Corinthians 2:9 The Message).

“You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other” (James 3:18 The Message).

Church Health is the Key to Church Growth

All living things grow if they’re healthy. You don’t have to make them grow — it’s just natural for living organisms. As a parent, I didn’t have to force my three children to grow. They naturally grew up. As long as I removed the hindrances, such as poor nutrition or an unsafe environment, their growth was automatic.

If my children had not grown up, something would have been terribly wrong. I would have done whatever it took to discover the disease and correct it. I…

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Church Teaching

You need supportive relationships if you’re going to make it in life, and God has put people in your life for your health and your healing.

God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, and while it was a perfect environment, God also acknowledged that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone. God had designed him for relationship, just as he has designed all of us for relationship.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 1:3 that God “has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family” (TLB).

When you were born physically, you joined the human family, the human race. When you’re born spiritually, you join God’s family.

The church is not an institution, a religious club, a society, an organization, or a business. The Bible describes the church as a family. That’s how we are to relate to each other.

The Christian life is not just a matter of believing; it includes belonging. And belonging to a church family is essential to our recovery and our healing.

You can measure your spiritual commitment by how much you love the church. The Bible says Christ loved it…

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Every relationship — even a good one — has conflict. If you don’t know how to deal with it, how to resolve it, how to manage it, you can kill your relationship.

The Bible says conflict is caused by selfishness. James 4:1 says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you?” (GNT). I am basically a selfish person. I think of me before I think of anybody else. And you do, too. I want what I want and you want what you want, and when these competing desires collide, that’s called conflict.

The night before I got married, my father-in-law sat down with us and said, “There are five areas where marriages usually have conflict: money, sex, in-laws, children, and communication.”

My father-in-law was a prophet. In our marriage we’ve gone five for five! We’ve hit every single one of them.

Some of you are in major pain right now. You are frustrated. You feel stuck in your relationship because you have argued about certain issues over and over with no resolution, much less reconciliation. You don’t know what to do.

If you’re going to…

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Discouragement is unique to human beings, and it’s universal.

Eventually everyone feels it, including those in ministry. I have no doubt you’ve experienced discouragement at times. You might even be discouraged as you read this article.

Do you know how often I have wanted to quit being pastor of Saddleback Church? Every Monday morning!

So here’s what I’ve learned about battling discouragement:

4 Causes of Discouragement

#1 Cause – Fatigue

When you’re physically or emotionally exhausted, you’re a prime candidate to be infected with discouragement. Your defenses are lowered and things can seem bleaker than they really are. This often occurs when you’re halfway through a major project and you get tired.

#2 Cause – Frustration

When unfinished tasks pile up, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. And when trivial matters or the unexpected interrupt you and prevent you from accomplishing what you really need to do, your frustration can easily produce discouragement.

#3 Cause – Failure

Sometimes your best laid plans fall apart, the project collapses, the deal falls through, no one shows up to the event. How do you react? Do you give in to self-pity? Do you blame others? As one man said, “Just when I think I can make…

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Psychology Today once asked 52,000 Americans, “What does it take to make you happy?” Their answers varied, but the interesting thing is that most of them dealt with external situations instead of internal issues. The popular idea of happiness involves having the right circumstances. It’s what I call “when and then” thinking.

When I get out of school, then I’ll be happy.

When I get a job, then I’ll be happy.

When I get married, then I’ll be happy.

When I have kids, then I’ll be happy.

When the kids leave home, then I’ll be happy.

Perhaps happiness isn’t the goal. At least not the way most people think about the word happiness.

Joy is a much better word because it describes a state we can choose regardless of our circumstances.

Joy is a choice. You choose to be joyful — often in spite of your circumstances. Right now, regardless of what you are facing in your ministry, you’re as joyful as you choose to be.

Life is difficult. Parenting is difficult. Ministry is difficult! There are a lot of things that don’t go right and don’t go your way in life. If your joy in ministry depends on…

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Calendar

Big-attendance days, like Easter and Christmas, are important for the growth of a church. You get to meet a lot of guests and then follow up with them after they visit. You also get a visual picture of what your church can look like a year down the road on an average Sunday.

The problem with big days, however, is that we sometimes see them as the end goal, and they’re not. High-attendance days are just one part of a bigger picture when it comes to making disciples.

After Easter, a lot of churches start preparing for what many leaders refer to as the “summer slump,” when attendance and giving decrease because of vacation travel, sports, and other interests competing with the church for time on the weekend.

That’s why it’s vital to focus, on a regular basis, on the systems you have in place for making disciples in between those big days.

To put it another way, you have five or six weeks per year to invite as many people as possible to attend a special worship event, but you have 52 weeks per year to help people take their next step in their spiritual walk.

Every week,…

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Television

We think all the time. We observe, record, and process information faster than any computer on earth. And we store information and imagery better, too.

The human brain is absolutely amazing in its capability to capture and catalog things.

And what we take into our minds definitely influences what comes out in our lives. Our habits are the results of our actions, which are the results of our thoughts.

So be choosy when it comes to what you allow into your mind.

Be discriminating. Don’t just allow anything and everything to filter into your mind.

I read a book one time called Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. It’s about how advertisers compete for your attention. Whether you realize it or not, everybody wants to get your attention, usually for the purpose of profit.

So it’s up to you to take control of your thought life. Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV).

Guard your mind and be disciplined in the way that you think.

There are four kinds of material that you can fill your mind with.

1. Poison.

Poison includes pornography, the occult, trashy novels, things that blaspheme God, and anything that is bad for…

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