Archives For Rick Warren

 

Do you ever feel like your past is holding you back in your ministry? Similar to a marathon runner carrying unnecessary gear, we sometimes have worries, wounds, and wrongs that slow us down. The Bible often compares life to a marathon race. A marathon isn’t the kind of race you can hurry through. For most runners, the point of a marathon isn’t to see who finishes first; it’s to see who can last to the end.  

The same goes for ministry. Learning to finish well is one of the most important lessons you can learn as a church leader. Serious marathon runners always remove extra items from their body when they’re running a race. They don’t want to carry a lot of baggage. They avoid carrying unnecessary gear and wear as little as possible, opting for t-shirts and shorts even in cold weather.

They don’t want anything to slow them down or hold them back. 

That’s how God wants us to lead in ministry—with little holding us back. So what’s holding you back? 

Here are three areas…

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“Since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 5:1 (NIV)

To have peace with God, you need to be justified. To be justified means to be made right with God—it’s “just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned.” No one is perfect—not by your own standards, let alone God’s standards—and the result is guilt. When you carry your guilt, you lose your sense of peace with God.

Wouldn’t you love to have a heart as clean as freshly fallen snow?

No matter how deep the stain of your sin, God can take it out—all of it. You need to ask to be justified. The Bible says, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16 NLT).

You don’t have to be fearful or shy about approaching God for forgiveness. When you go to God and confess your sins, you will not be scolded, punished, or rejected. Instead, you will receive God’s mercy and grace. To have a relationship with God, you need his forgiveness.

You don’t need…

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Every church leader needs to learn how to diffuse conflict. It’s one of the most important ministry skills you can develop and rarely taught in seminaries and Bible schools.

Unresolved conflict will damage your ministry. You can’t be in harmony with God if you’re out of harmony with other people. 1 John 4:20 tells us, “If people say, ‘I love God,’ but hate their brothers or sisters, they are liars” (NCV). 

The next time you find yourself in the middle of conflict—whether at home or at church—try these seven steps to resolve it.

1. Take the initiative.

Don’t wait for the other person to come to you, and don’t deny the conflict. Be the peacemaker God has called you to be.

I was terrible at this when Kay and I first married. When Kay would bring up issues, I became good at dodging them. But I’ve realized through the years that you never resolve conflict accidentally. You can only do it intentionally.

Of course, that kind of initiative requires courage when…

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It’s no secret that pastors are in a high-stress role. You prepare sermons weekly. You care for people during the most difficult moments of their lives. You’re a leader in your community during a period of high polarization.

In fact, one Lifeway Research study from 2022 suggested stress was the top mental challenge for pastors today—over discouragement, distractions, and several other challenges.

Ministry can certainly be stressful. You’ll find no shortage of ideas in the marketplace to help you deal with the stress, but the Bible gives us a different way. Jesus said in John 14:27, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (NLT).

No matter what you’re facing in ministry, God wants to give you peace of mind and heart. How does he do that?

The Bible gives us five keys to finding peace.

1. Accept that you’re forgiven. “Therefore, since we have been justified through…

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Pastor, I don’t know what you’re dealing with right now, but I suspect you may need some sort of healing. Maybe it’s a health problem or a broken relationship. Maybe it’s a problem in your church.

The good news is God gave us a model for praying for healing and restoration in the Bible. About 3,000 years ago, God promised King Solomon to heal and restore God’s people. That promise still stands today.

But notice that 2 Chronicles 7:14 isn’t a promise to everyone. It’s a promise to God’s people.

God says, “Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land” (NCV).

In that famous verse, God gives four conditions for answering our prayers for healing and restoration.

1. We need to admit we’re not in control.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves (2 Chronicles 7:14…

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If you drive onto the Saddleback Church campus from the back, you’ll have to pass over a bridge. It’s $6 million of concrete that is a nice symbol for our community.

It’s a statement to our community that nothing will keep us from reaching out to people. Saddleback wants to be a bridge to our neighbors.

All churches should be about building bridges. We build bridges between God and people. If you’re a preacher, it’s what God has called you to do. As preachers, we build bridges that connect the ancient text of the Bible with our contemporary audience. 

Unfortunately, many pastors fall off one of the two edges of that bridge. Some like to focus their messages on the here and now. They are more cultural commentators than preachers. Their sermons don’t have enough Scripture in them to impact the lives of their congregation. They tend to slip into motivational speeches and pop psychology. 

Other preachers fall off the other side. They’ll go on and on about biblical background and ancient world customs and leave little time for real-world applications. They are more like…

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“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life . . . The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

1 Kings 19:3, 11 (NIV)

When Elijah was emotionally exhausted, God led him to do three things to help him recover—things that will also help you recover when you’re near burnout.

Rest your body. Sometimes God makes you lie down because you’re unwilling to do it on your own. You can’t be spiritually and emotionally strong while you’re physically depleted.

That’s what happened to Elijah. God did not scold Elijah. God didn’t say, “Come on, man. You’re just having a pity party.” He simply let Elijah sleep.

Release your frustrations. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. Elijah didn’t hold anything back. He didn’t filter his feelings. He told God his frustrations.

God isn’t shocked when you complain to him. He’ll listen to you until you run out of words. Let them all out. God can handle anything you throw at him.

Refocus on God. Elijah was focused on the wrong things; he needed to trust God. When…

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No device in history has impacted our lives as much as the smartphone. Most people pick up their smartphones every 12 minutes. Phones have changed how we communicate with each other, how we shop, how we entertain ourselves, how we travel, and much more. 

You don’t need to be a cultural critic to know some of these changes haven’t been good. I wrote about many of those hazards in my previous article. Smartphones can be a time-waster. They can seduce us into accepting the world’s value system.

But, pastor, don’t miss this either: Your smartphone also can be a tool for God’s purposes. Being a disciple in today’s digital world isn’t about ignoring technology. It’s about learning to use it for good. 

Here are five ways you can disciple your congregation to use their smartphones to pursue God’s purposes.

1. We can use our phones to express our worship.

God told us how to worship him. We’re to do it “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 NCV). But he didn’t tell us where to worship him. We can and…

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If you have a smartphone, you have more power at your fingertips than you likely realize. For example, your phone is more powerful than the technology NASA had when they put a man on the moon.

Or consider the first hard drive, which held 5 megabytes of storage, yet weighed several thousand pounds. Your smartphone, even the least expensive one, has at least 6,000 times that storage. 

Even back in 2007, when Time magazine named the iPhone its invention of the year, we had no idea the impact the smartphone would have on us. It is, by far, the most behavior-changing invention in the history of mankind. Nothing else comes close.

Just think of some of the things we can do more easily now than we could before the invention of smartphones:

  • We can get directions to anywhere we want in seconds.
  • We can purchase (or borrow) nearly any book in existence, wherever we are.
  • We can check our bank account and…

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Many people come through the front doors of our churches during Easter—and many people get saved. But, as you already know, not all of the people who come during Easter return the following week. And not everyone who gets saved during Easter services grows spiritually either.

So how do we make sure the people who attend our Easter services return, become active in our churches, and get involved in ministry?

Keeping the fruit of your ministry is as important as winning the fruit in the first place.

What did the early Church do after big evangelistic harvests?

  • They preached the Gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said in Acts 14:21-22 (NIV).
  • Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. But…

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During my time at Saddleback, I preached 43 Easter messages. I never repeated one. I never needed to because there’s so much to teach about the resurrection. 

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event—and the most important message—in the world’s history. Every Easter, billions of people worldwide remember Jesus’ death on the cross for their sins and celebrate the resurrection that proved Jesus was who he said he was.

But the story of Jesus didn’t end with the resurrection or even his ascension into heaven. Jesus hasn’t been idle for 2,000 years. He has been hard at work.

What has he been doing?

  1. Jesus is building a family to love forever.

God has planned this since he created the universe. If he didn’t want a family, the universe wouldn’t even exist. 

Ephesians 1:5 says, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (NLT).

Building God’s family makes him happy! God’s love…

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Too many church leaders serve out of exhaustion. But leaders need margin. It’s crucial for healthy ministries.

In my previous article, I told you why margin is so important for ministry leaders. This week, I’m sharing six ways to build it into your life so you can be more fruitful in ministry. 

  1. Accept your limitations.

As ministers, we often feel the weight of the world upon our shoulders. We want to help as many people as possible. 

But we’re not God. We’re not even Superman. The rules apply to us, just like everyone else. 

Psalm 119:96 says, “I have learned that everything has limits” (GNT).

Our culture tells us the opposite of Psalm 119:96. It says, “We can do anything!” But we know that’s not true. In fact, if we want to build more margin into our lives, we need to recognize four specific limitations God has given us. 

  • We have physical limitations. Our energy will not go on forever.
  • We have emotional limitations. Everyone faces this limitation, but it’s…

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