Archives For Rick Warren

Every leader needs a mentor. 

The Bible tells us to listen to people who are a little further along in the faith and learn from their example. We see the importance of learning from others throughout the Bible—from Jesus, to Paul, to Solomon. 

  • Jesus: “I have given you an example to follow: do as I have done to you” (John 13:15 TLB).
  • Paul: “You became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thessalonians 1:7 NIV).
  • Solomon: “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success” (Proverbs 15:22 NLT).

One of the most important aspects of ministry is mentoring the next generation of leaders. Any pastor can do this. In fact, there are four specific ways you can help young leaders grow.

  1. Encourage continuous learning.

I’ve told my staff, “All leaders are learners.” You can’t lead without learning. You will never learn everything you need to know about ministry (or any other area…

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God wants us to be free. In fact, this is a major theme throughout Scripture. 

Because Jesus died and rose again, we can have freedom from the prisons that hold us back. Jesus writes in John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (NIV).

Here are three ways Jesus wants to give you freedom in your ministry.

1. Freedom from pretending

As pastors, we often worry people will see the real us. People tend to expect perfection from us, and we put on masks to hide who we really are. Social media makes this even worse, pressuring us to appear like we have it all together.

Some of you have been pretending for so long that you don’t even know who the real you is.

One of the reasons we pretend is because we want to please people—our families, our church, or our communities. But Proverbs 29:25 tells us the problem with doing this, “Being afraid of people can get you into trouble” (NCV).

None of us…

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One of my life verses is Proverbs 14:30, “A relaxed attitude lengthens a man’s life” (TLB). I always think about that verse as it relates to the people I lead. 

Ministry carries eternal implications. We need those we lead to last in ministry. We need to make sure they don’t burn out. 

That’s why I’ve always encouraged what I call relaxed concern. That sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s important to the longevity of your ministry team. Relaxed concern means we realize that heaven and hell hang in the balance of what we do, but we also know we can’t live tightly wound all the time. The quickest way to burn out your staff is to never relax. I’ve seen it happen in hundreds of churches. 

I don’t want that to happen to your church. It’s absolutely critical that your team learns to develop a relaxed attitude so ministry doesn’t drain their energy unnecessarily. 

Over four decades of ministry at Saddleback, these seven practices helped to limit burnout.

1. Don’t expect every staff member to work at the…

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It’s easy—and quick—to lose your joy in ministry. One phone call, email, or conversation, and your joy may go out the window. 

But joy in ministry is a serious issue. If my wife or my children were never happy, it would reflect poorly on me. When godly leaders are never happy, it reflects poorly on God. 

Cranky Christians make terrible witnesses. Let your countenance reflect the joy of God within you.

So how can you get your joy in ministry back?

1. Admit you’ve lost it. You can’t recover from what you’ve never lost. This can be tough to admit as a pastor. As a church leader, it’s hard to be honest about your struggles. But you’ll never be able to find your joy unless you admit you don’t have it.

2. Analyze the cause. Look at your life and ministry, and ask yourself: “How did I lose my joy?”

The Bible tells us to do this over and over. “Let us examine our ways and turn back to the Lord” (Lamentations…

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“The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. The tongue . . . can turn our whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster.”

James 3:5-6 (TLB)

When we don’t have self-control in our life, we’re vulnerable to all kinds of problems.

Anything out of control in your life can harm other people and damage your close relationships. Uncontrolled anger, addiction, spending, or ambition can create enormous problems. But the greatest destroyer of relationships is an uncontrolled tongue.

The average person has 30 conversations a day. That means you will spend one-fifth of your life talking. At some point, your mouth will probably get you into trouble.

James compares the tongue to a tiny spark because that’s all that is needed to create a great forest fire. A careless word can ignite your relationships and make them all go up in smoke.

Have you ever met a verbal arsonist?

Their words are dangerous. They use words of discouragement and criticism. Gossip is especially destructive because it spreads like an airborne virus. Careless words have destroyed…

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Your ministry is both a privilege and a challenge. You have the opportunity to walk with people through the most important moments of their lives. God uses you to help repair broken marriages, overcome addictions, and help people discover the love of Jesus.

But your calling can also be a burden. You face more stress than most people realize. 

  • You deal with uncontrollable circumstances. Maybe it’s as simple as a meeting that goes off the rails. Or maybe it’s something more serious—like leadership conflicts that seem to stall everything you try to do.
  • You must minister to uncooperative people. Difficult people in your church may make it tough for you to do what God is calling you to do through your ministry.
  • You serve people who experience unexplainable pain. They look to you for answers, but you don’t have the words they’re looking for. All you can do is walk with them as they ask God these painful questions.

The weight of responsibility on your shoulders can be overwhelming. So, what do you do about it? You surrender…

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Pastor, failure in ministry is inevitable. Every leader will fail at some point. We’re tempted to think that Jesus is quick to condemn us when we fail. But that’s not what the Bible says.

In the most critical hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Peter failed him. We can learn about how Jesus responds to our failure by looking at how he responded to Peter’s failure. When you look at the example of Peter, you’ll see these five truths.

1. Jesus isn’t shocked by our failures.

Jesus knew beforehand that Peter would be tested. In fact, the night before Peter betrayed him, the Lord said: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to test all of you as a farmer sifts his wheat” (Luke 22:31 NCV).

Jesus isn’t surprised by your failure either. The Bible tells us God “knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 NCV). God made us and knows we are frail. Other people may put us on a pedestal because we’re pastors, but God knows better. He knows every trick Satan will try…

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Because we live in an imperfect world, we all will fail in ministry at times. Church leaders don’t get off the hook. 

But failure doesn’t need to be fatal. Both Judas and Peter denied Christ and failed miserably in the last hours of Jesus’ earthly life.

Judas rejected the mercy of God and killed himself. But Peter accepted the mercy of God and became the leader of the church. 

Peter illustrated three keys to recovering from personal failures. Follow Peter’s example next time you experience a failure.


1. Grieve.

You don’t minimize the failure. Nor can you go around it or over it. You must go through it.

You do that through grieving. Peter exemplified this. When the rooster crowed the third time and Peter came face-to-face with his failure, the Bible says, “ went outside and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:75 NIV).

Imagine how disappointed Peter felt. He spent three and a half years with the Son of God. He watched Jesus perform miracles, heal people, raise the dead, and teach like no one else ever had.

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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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