Archives For Rick Warren

You likely didn’t get into ministry with the hope of getting rich. In fact, you’re probably putting in long days of work for much less pay than you’d make if you had never responded to God’s call to ministry. But the Lord still wants to bless you financially. He wants you to get out of debt so you can be financially free.

The Bible is filled with incredible promises of financial blessing that lead to financial freedom. But every promise in God’s Word has a premise. God always attaches a step of faith to his promises. 

Here are eight habits that lead to financial blessing:

  1. Trust God to be your source and supply. Deuteronomy 8:18 says, “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (NIV).

Our jobs are not our suppliers. They are tools God uses to provide for our needs. When we forget this, we start to worry.

Worry is the warning light that we are trusting something other than God for our security and our supply. If that’s where you are right now, ask…

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“I have gained perfect freedom by following your teachings.”

Psalm 119:45 (CEV)

Everywhere you look, you can find people who like to pretend.

It’s not a game; they aren’t children who are playing make-believe. They’re adults pretending to be someone other than themselves in order to get the approval of others. Seeking approval typically plays out in one of two ways.

Some are trying to meet the expectations of someone else, and that means they’re allowing their purpose in life to be defined by someone other than God. This is a dangerous way to live because people’s expectations are inconsistent. 

Other people are trying to meet their own unrealistic expectations of perfectionism. That’s when you think you must be perfect to be loved and accepted. Inevitably, we fall short of being perfect, so the only option that makes sense is to fake it.

Are you pretending? Maybe you’ve been pretending for so long that you don’t know who the real you is anymore. You’re wearing a mask, and it’s wearing you out. Everyone else thinks you’ve got plenty of money, success, and happiness.

When you stop…

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We all have moments when we feel like the demands of ministry are too much. We’re ready to quit. Over the past 18 months, many of us have felt that way more than any other time in our lives. Ministry is tough—and it’s getting tougher. 

It’s not physical fatigue that bothers most of us. Sleep and relaxation can help, but rest alone can’t solve emotional exhaustion.

That’s why I want to share with you four biblical principles for how to handle emotional exhaustion in your ministry:

Honestly tell God what you’re feeling. 

Don’t start by telling God what you should be feeling. Start by telling him what you are feeling. Feeling discouraged or exhausted? Tell God exactly how you feel. Dump everything on him. He can handle it! 

The Bible says, “Unload all your burden on to him, since he is concerned about you” (1 Peter 5:7 NJT). Sometimes it’s tough to unburden ourselves on God because we really don’t understand who he is. But the truth is:

The most powerful form of advertising is the personal testimony. “I tried pie, so should you” is a well-worn form of introducing people to a product. It’s still being used because it works. Television, the Internet, and social media have made people more resistant to hard sales pitches. 

Impact is no longer a matter of volume. It’s about connection. Years ago when pastors had a weak point in their sermons, they would sometimes write in their notes, “Weak point. Yell here.” They thought yelling would help impact lives more effectively. But that’s not true today. In fact, people are more resistant to the volume factor than ever before. 

What would you rather listen to, a hard-sell or a soft-sell salesperson? There’s no question about it. No one wants to deal with the loud, pushy salesperson who is trying to sell something the moment you come into the store. 

So how do you preach powerfully today? You preach personally.

Talking about your life in a personal way has a power you simply can’t get any other way. But personal preaching isn’t new. In fact, it goes all the…

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I once took my family on a vacation to Lake Tahoe. I hooked up a rather large trailer to my car, and we headed north. Unfortunately, I didn’t stop to think how that large load would affect how many miles I would get per gallon. 

As I drove through the mountains, I noticed the gas tank was half full. No problem, I thought. My car had a big tank. But suddenly, we hit a strong headwind, and I watched my gas gauge drop even further. I then realized we wouldn’t make it to our destination. We eventually ran out of gas, and I had to hitchhike back to a gas station.

The point of my story is this: The heavier the load you carry, the faster you’ll run out of gas.

Pastor, you’re carrying a heavy load. Leaders always do. You’re helping people answer questions about eternity. You’re ministering to them in their lowest moments. Your church members are looking to you for spiritual nourishment.

To fulfill God’s purpose for your life, you must learn to lighten your load or you will run…

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How God Uses Your Work to Help You Grow

Pastor, your work matters. God is using you to help people find him. He’s using you to meet the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of the people in your community. 

But those aren’t the only reasons your work matters. 

Your work also matters because of how God is using it to build your character. You spend a lot of your week at work, likely more than most. No one has “just” a job. God wants to use your experiences at work to build your character.

God’s number one purpose in your life is for you to grow up spiritually and become like Jesus. The Bible says, “Real maturity that measure of development which is meant by the ‘fullness of Christ’” (Ephesians 4:13 PHILLIPS). 

So how does God use your work in ministry to build your character?

God uses pressure to teach you responsibility.

Every work has some measure of pressure. In ministry, you’re dealing with life and death matters. You’re helping people come to grips with eternity….

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Make Every Step Count

By Rick Warren

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

1 Corinthians 9:25-26 (NLT)

 

Every step in your journey with Jesus should be taken with purpose and intentionality. There’s a heavenly prize ahead—an eternal reward that awaits those who honor God in everything they do.

Living a life on purpose requires self-discipline. This means you won’t be able to do everything that other people do. God’s plan is different from the world’s plan. Being a disciple of Jesus often means taking the more difficult path.

Olympic runners must give up all kinds of stuff in order to go for the gold. They must go to bed at a certain time, eat a certain way, and train at a certain time. They must count the cost of what it will take to win. Then they make the necessary sacrifices, denying their natural urges and click reference inclinations. The rigorous training is never the focus; their sights are set…

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Do You Know the Needs of Your Congregation?

When I plan my preaching calendar, I start by analyzing my audience. I start where Jesus started—the needs of people. 

You won’t learn that from a commentary set. Commentaries can help you analyze your text but not your congregation. You need to be able to answer three specific questions about your congregation:

  • Where is my congregation right now?
  • Where does my congregation need to go in the future?
  • How can we help them get there?

So, how do you answer these questions about your congregation? Make these four activities a regular practice in your ministry, and you’ll develop a more relevant sermon schedule:

Listen.

I get many of my sermon ideas from talking to people on the patio after worship services. I listen to people talk about their temptations, their habits, their sins, and their needs. As I listen, I’m constantly asking myself, “Do I need to do a message on this?” I also find that the letters and emails I receive give me great ideas about…

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Timing affects everything we do in life. Learning to understand where God wants us in every season of life is essential. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “Everything on earth has its own time and its own season” (CEV). 

God has a plan for the transitions in your life and ministry—whether you’re considering a move to a new church or transitioning to a new phase in your current ministry.

You’ve likely heard that I’m transitioning to a new season of my life and ministry. I’ve always considered Acts 13:36 one of my life verses. “David served God’s purpose in his own generation” (CEB). I’ve had the opportunity to serve not just one generation at Saddleback but multiple generations.

But I announced in June that it was time for Saddleback to begin looking for my pastoral successor, who will serve the next generation of our church family. Since I’ve been the senior pastor of Saddleback since the beginning, this will be an incredibly significant change for myself and our church. 

I know I’m not the only pastor navigating tough decisions…

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“Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:17 (NCV)

You are in a constant battle for your mind. That’s where temptation begins. When God gives you an idea, that’s inspiration. But when the devil gives you an idea, that’s temptation. Every day, you have to choose which ideas you’re going to accept.

The Bible says if you want to overcome temptation you need to resist the devil. How can you do that? By replacing tempting thoughts with biblical truth.

There are two steps you can take to prepare for battle:

The first step is to “accept God’s salvation as your helmet.” What does a helmet do? It protects your mind. Your mind is where the battle against temptation is fought. Before you can say “no” to the devil, you have to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

The second step is to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and use it against the devil’s temptations. This requires memorizing Scripture so you will know top article how to counter the devil’s lies. He isn’t afraid…

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Eight Strategies to Become a Better Listener

Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop in ministry. 

But most of us simply talk too much. You may have heard before, “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk.” That’s true for those of us in ministry too.   

People don’t fail in ministry because they don’t know the Bible well enough, can’t plan well, or struggle as leaders. Most people in ministry fail because they’re insensitive to people. They’re not good listeners. 

Poor listening causes broken relationships, costs money, and leads to mistakes. It can ruin ministries.

But there’s good news: You can improve your listening skills. Here are eight strategies to help you become a better listener.

Don’t judge by first impressions.

First impressions aren’t just unfair; they’re also expensive. They can influence all aspects of your ministry—which leaders you choose to invest in, which pastoral care needs you meet, and so on. Often prejudices impact decisions.

The Bible says, “Don’t judge by appearances. Judge by what is right”

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Pastors are often taught in seminary to develop a content outline for their sermons. This type of outline is designed to help you teach the Bible, but rarely does it lead to effective sermons and life change.  

And the purpose of our preaching is to see God change lives. 

That’s why I developed what I call a communication outline for my sermons. The purpose of a communication outline is to change lives rather than simply inform. Instead of a series of alliterated points backed by sub-points that simply describe the text, I turn my points into applications, and each one has an action to take. 

Let me show you how these two outlining strategies—content and communication—might impact a typical sermon on the book of Jonah. 

Here’s a content outline for the book of Jonah:

Jonah’s four chapters break down into four good points no matter which outline you’re using.  

As you know, Jonah runs down to Joppa and gets on a boat headed for Tarsus in chapter one. God told him to go east, and Jonah went as far west as…

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