Archives For Rick Warren

Why You Need Goals in 2022

Most of the people in our congregations are stepping into 2022 hoping it will be better than 2021. Many have already identified specific changes they want to make in their lives. They want to get healthier, heal their marriage, or get serious about their spiritual growth. 

But despite their best intentions, many of those changes will fizzle out. 

That’s where goals come in. It’s critical that you have a vision for what God wants to do in your life. You have to see the goal before you can reach the goal. But once you’ve seen it, you must believe you can achieve it. That’s where your faith in God comes in.

A few years back, I asked a world-famous psychologist, “In all of your work over the years, what has been the most helpful thing you’ve given to people that has made a difference in their lives as they were seeking change?” 

His answer was surprising. 

“There’s no question about it,” he said. “I’ve discovered the most helpful thing I can do for people in a personal or relational…

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It’s no secret that people look to make changes in their lives at the beginning of the year. It’s a time when people get back into fitness, get their finances under control, and get serious about their spiritual lives.

But too often these changes don’t stick. As a church leader, you’ve likely seen it many times before. You’ve probably even experienced it yourself, knowing that lasting change isn’t possible without going back to the operating manual of our lives—God’s Word. 

Romans 12:1-11 gives us six important principles for making a lasting change in our lives.

We must commit our bodies to God. 

No matter what kind of change we want to make in our lives—mental, physical, financial, spiritual, or social—it will require energy. The reason we don’t change is because we have no energy. The truth is, sometimes we’re just too tired to change. That’s why change must start with our bodies.

Everything you do for God in this life, you’ll do in your body. In fact, God says to offer your body to him. Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you,…

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Five Steps to a Fresh START

Our God is the God of second chances and fresh starts.

Pastor, as you head into 2022, you may be ready to let go of a dream or a vision that God has given you. But don’t give up, because the year ahead is another opportunity to pursue the dream God has given you.

God’s Word gives us five simple steps for seizing the fresh start he wants to give us. I’ve created an acrostic, S-T-A-R-T, to help us remember these steps as we try to apply them in 2022.

Stop making excuses for not starting.

The biggest barriers to your success are your own excuses. God has a lot to say about your excuses. Just look at the four most common excuses we make when giving up on a dream. 

  • “I don’t have what it takes to go after my dream.” Many people in the Bible tried making this excuse, including Moses, Jeremiah, and Gideon. But God reminded each one that he is with them as they fulfill his calling for their lives. And God’s answer to your insecurity is to also…

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Sharing Jesus With the Lost This Christmas

I’ve preached well over 100 Christmas messages during my 40 years as pastor of Saddleback Church. We’ve looked at Christmas from every possible angle. We’ve looked at it from the perspective of Mary, Joseph, the wise men—and even God himself. We’ve studied Christmas from the vantage point of the shepherds, the innkeeper, and King Herod.

You’ve probably preached Christmas messages from a variety of angles as well. But the most important perspective our communities need to understand is the purpose of Christmas.

To preach all the intricacies of Jesus’ birth but miss the purpose of Christmas is to miss the point entirely. If you ignore the reason for Christmas, you might as well take down your Christmas lights, forget about your Christmas cards, and cancel your Christmas services.

Luke 19:10 tells us exactly why Jesus’ birth matters so much: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (NLT). And as you and your church proclaim the Christmas story this holiday season, nothing matters more than that simple message. Luke 19:10…

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“A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls.”

Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)

Anything that’s uncontrolled will eventually destroy you.

In today’s society, it’s obvious we don’t know how to handle anger. We live in a fast-paced, hectic world where people get stressed out. We’re always on the go and trying to burn the candle at both ends.

Anger is not a sin; if you read the Gospels you will see that Jesus got angry. What’s important is how you express your anger. If you don’t learn how to manage it wisely, it will destroy you and your relationships.

If handled correctly, managed anger actually becomes an asset. There are some situations where the only proper response is to get angry. For example, when you see someone being taken advantage of or when you see an injustice, anger is an appropriate response.

If you’re going to learn how to control your anger, you have to stop making excuses and start accepting responsibility for your reactions. Anger is a choice, just like every other emotion.

When you realize that anger has a cost, you’re more likely to control it. You always lose…

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Once your Christmas services are completed, you’ll likely be ready for some time off before the new year begins. And since it’s been an eventful year in ministry, you’ll need this time to recharge, relax, and soak in the holidays with your loved ones.

But don’t forget about making plans for the beginning of 2022. The new year is a time when people are particularly open to making spiritual changes in their lives. In fact, many non-believers questioned God more than ever this past year. Whether or not some of them attended your services physically or virtually, they were likely thinking about their relationship with Jesus. Attending church and getting to know God better are common resolutions people make as they head into the new year.

Plus, with kids heading back to school again in January, many families are looking to begin new habits. They’re more open to adding new commitments to their schedules than they will be at other times. (When kids start school in the fall is another key time when families are open to changing up their schedules.)

That…

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How to Prepare for Dream Busters

In my last Ministry Toolbox article, I shared some tips on how to chase big dreams. But as with any dream, you’ll often face obstacles—dream busters that will keep you from pursuing your dreams. If you know what they are in advance, you can be prepared to face them head-on. Even people with good intentions can be a detriment to what God wants to do through you and your ministry.

Here are some of the dream busters I’ve seen stand in the way of what God wants to do through leaders like you and me.

Family

You see this in the story of Joseph in Genesis. Joseph was a big dreamer, but his dreams got him in trouble. He told his brothers that someday he’d be an influential leader and would save a nation. God gave him that dream and eventually made it come true. 

But Joseph shared his dream with the wrong people and at the wrong time. 

When God gives you a dream, you need to be careful who you share it with. You need to share with…

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Eight Steps to Dreaming Bigger Dreams

Every church leader needs a dream. Most leaders start out with a dream, but those dreams tend to shrink to the size of the situation they find themselves in. That’s why we need to be stretched periodically.

The history of Saddleback is a testimony to the power of a God-given dream. In my first Saddleback sermon—during a trial service with 60 people—I shared the dream God gave me for the church. It was a big dream. (You can read the vision I shared that morning in the first chapter of The Purpose Driven Church.)

When I stood up and shared that dream, no one thought there was a chance it could come true. But God did what he said he was going to do. 

Great things come from small beginnings when God is in them. But you need to start with a dream.  

If you’re struggling to discover God’s dream for your ministry, here are eight steps to dream bigger than you’ve ever dreamed before.

Open your mind to God—The Principle of Inspiration

God’s perspective…

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Five Exercises for a Happy Heart

One way to develop a healthy heart is to incorporate exercise into your life, such as walking, swimming, or lifting weights. And over time, your commitment to exercise will improve your overall health.

But if you want a happy heart, you’ll need an entirely different set of exercises. The Bible gives us five exercises we can get started on right now. And if we make them a regular part of our lives, they will help us live happier lives.

Here are five exercises you can begin working on today to cultivate a happy heart:

Remember God is with you, in you, and for you. 

No matter what you’re facing, you don’t need to do it alone. God is with you every step of the way, working within you—and for you. 

Paul reminds us of this truth in the following three verses:

  • “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13 NIV). 
  • “I…

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Defeating Your Destructive Thoughts

“When tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies.”

John 8:44 (GNT)

You need a game plan to overcome destructive thoughts. At the root of every one of these thoughts is a lie.

Where do these lies come from?

Satan told the first lie. He sold it to Adam and Eve by wrapping it up in false promises, and he’s been telling lies ever since. Satan can’t force you to do anything, but he tells great lies. He knows exactly what we want to hear, which makes his suggestions extremely powerful.

Satan has set the trap, and he knows what bait to use. Once he gets one person to believe his lies, he’ll work through that person to influence others, creating a domino effect. Satan is constantly working to plant destructive thoughts in your mind.

Here’s the truth: You can’t stand up to Satan on your own. Jesus was tempted by Satan with three different lies. Each time, Jesus responded with Scripture.

God’s Word has the truth you need!

The person you lie to the…

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He Knows Our Needs

By Andy Petry, National Director of The Landing

“Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Matthew 6:8 (NIV)

Adversity and discouragement seem to go hand in hand. Whether they come in the form of hard medical diagnosis, some sort of family crisis, financial troubles, addiction and dysfunctional behaviors, or a world-wide pandemic, tough times can zap our strength, courage, and resolve, and can leave us feeling exhausted and defeated. Thinking back on this past year, I’ve had to admit that I’ve been pushed and stretched in a lot of different ways that I didn’t expect, nor want. And while I wouldn’t have chosen it myself (I don’t think any of us would’ve either), one undeniable fruit of this tough time has been that it’s forced me to press in the Lord and my own recovery journey. It’s taught me again just how much God is aware of our situation, how he works in the midst of it all, and how he gives us what we need to grow more into the image of Jesus.

I learned the Lord’s Prayer as I grew up in the church and…

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Helping People Through Grief

Pastor, the reality is that some of the people you lead will never deal directly with their grief. They’ll stuff it, push it down, and pretend it’s not there. And they’ll miss out on God’s best for their lives because they can’t move past the pain.

Many people believe the myth that God wants us to walk around with a smile all the time—and ignore the pain so no one knows when we’re hurting. But the Bible doesn’t say that anywhere! 

In fact, Jesus taught the opposite. In Matthew 5:4, he says, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (NLT). 

Because grief is an appropriate response to pain, we need to help our congregations discover how to grieve in healthy ways. 

This is particularly important right now. Since the beginning of this pandemic, you’ve likely had people in your congregation who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. But they’ve also lost jobs, important relationships, and meaningful routines. It’s important for them to grieve all these losses.  

Yet we need to help our congregations grieve…

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