Archives For Rick Warren

Taking risks is a vital part of ministry. You don’t need to take every risk in front of you, but you do need to take every risk God calls you to take, even when you’re afraid. 

Maybe you’re uprooting your family to go somewhere new to serve the Lord. Or you’re starting a new ministry, and you have no idea how you’ll fund it. Opportunities like these will require you to take faithful risks, because “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). 

Why is it important to God that we learn to take risks? Because he wants us to learn to trust him. And we can’t lead others to live by faith if we refuse to do it ourselves.

Throughout the Bible, God calls people to take risks in faith. In Exodus 14, before the Israelites crossed the Red Sea with the Egyptians in pursuit, they became fearful. Here are four things we learn from the Israelites about fear.

  1. Fear makes us skeptical. 

“ said to Moses, ‘Why did you bring us out…

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The Path Back to God

By Rick Warren

“When you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

Jeremiah 29:13 (The Message)

When you’ve drifted away from God, how do you get back to him? What does it look like to “get serious about finding” God again? 

Be honest with yourself because nothing is going to change until you admit that things aren’t working as they should. Finding God requires your full commitment—half measures won’t work here! You will need to want it “more than anything else.” 

God wants to be first in your life; if you are distant from him, something else has taken the number one spot in your heart. You will need to do some significant soul-searching to discover what has taken God’s place. Then you need to confess your sins to God. He loves you unconditionally, just as you are! But you need to ask for his forgiveness for the things you’ve done that have taken you away from him. 

Once you’ve said yes to Jesus, you’ll never lose your relationship with him. However, when God isn’t…

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There will be times in ministry when you’ll want to quit, especially when your efforts get criticized and you become discouraged. You may even write a resignation letter. It happens to all of us. 

But persistence is a key attribute in ministry. Paul understood this because he had every reason to quit. In 2 Corinthians 4, he gave a laundry list of reasons to be discouraged. Yet twice he said, “We do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1 NIV).

What was Paul’s secret to persistence in ministry? In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul highlights seven motivating principles we can apply to our own lives to help us persevere in ministry.

  1. Remember God loves me.

“We don’t become discouraged, since God has given us this ministry through his mercy” (2 Corinthians 4:1 GW). 

Recognizing God’s love and mercy gives you the courage you need to navigate difficult seasons in ministry. God knows everything you’re going through, and he wants to help you.

Paul remembered the grace God showed to him. He wrote, “Whatever I am…

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Spiritual ruts are common to every believer. Having been a pastor for more than 60 years, I’ve discovered it’s easy to fall into spiritual slumps—times when even as pastors we don’t feel close to God. 

David experienced this in his walk with God. He wrote about it in multiple places in the Psalms, including Psalm 71: “O God, do not be so distant from me” (v. 12 GW).

We don’t lose our salvation when we go through these dry spells, but we do lose the joy God wants us to have in our relationship with him.

How do you know if you are in a spiritually dry season?

First, you’re no longer focused on loving others. Your heart grows cold. You preach the Bible week after week, yet Jesus isn’t warming your heart. Ministry becomes a duty, not a delight. 

Second, you stop taking steps of faith. Your vision shrinks.

Does that sound like you? There’s hope. God provides some important insights from 2 Kings 6 about what to do when you’ve lost your “cutting edge.”

In this…

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No matter what you do vocationally, whether you’re a full-time pastor, bi-vocational pastor, or a lay leader working another job, your work life matters to God. 

And since you’ll spend 40 percent of your waking hours at a job, the hours you spend at work are a big part of what God wants to do in your life. 

The Bible says, “Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3 TLB). That’s an amazing promise every one of us can claim. Notice there is a premise to that promise, though. God says we need to commit our work to him in order to succeed.

How do we do that? The Bible gives us four keys to committing our work to God: 

  1. Seek God’s direction.

“The Lord is pleased when good people pray” (Proverbs 15:8 GNT).

Over and over in the book of Proverbs, the Bible tells us that planning and prayer go together. In the same way you can’t score a touchdown without a game plan, you need more than hard work to succeed….

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Every single one of us faces periods in our lives when we want to give up on what God has called us to do. No one escapes those kinds of seasons. But the temptation to give up doesn’t make you less of a pastor or a church leader.

The question is, what do you do with that temptation? One characteristic of people who God uses is that they never give up.

So, what should you do when you feel like giving up?

The Bible gives us six actions God wants us to take when we feel like giving up. Together, they spell out the word ENDURE.

  • E – Embrace God’s purpose.

We can endure almost anything if we know there’s a purpose behind it. But without a purpose, we’ll collapse.

The Bible says this about God’s purpose behind our problems: “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT). Your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold.

People often mean evil…

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God Loves You Anyway

By Rick Warren

“ knows what we are made of; he remembers that we are dust.”

Psalm 103:14 (GNT)

Your failures don’t surprise God. He expects them. He knows what we’re made of—because he created us. God won’t stop loving us when we mess up. 

The central message of the Bible is this: God doesn’t love you because of who you are or what you’ve done but because of who he is and what he has done. 

God made you. He loves you. It’s settled! You can’t make God love you more. You can’t make him love you less. He loves you just as much on your bad days as he does on your good days. His love is not based on your performance. 

The Bible has a word for this. It’s called grace—and it’s absolutely amazing. When you understand God’s grace, you can relax about your failures and have the confidence to take more risks. You may have come to God multiple times for forgiveness on the same issue. Maybe you’re not sure you deserve his love and grace. And you’re convinced that God has…

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Relationships are at the heart of every ministry. Whether those relationships are with your family, your congregation, or your community, you’ll be miserable in life and ministry if your relationships aren’t healthy.

God wants us to enjoy the people in our lives. In the book of Philippians, Paul models four principles to help us find joy in our relationships. 

  1. Be grateful for the good in people. “I thank my God for all the memories I have of you” (Philippians 1:3 GW).

Paul focused on the good memories instead of the bad ones. And if you recall in Acts 16, you’ll remember the bad memories Paul could have focused on while he was in Philippi, but didn’t. He was arrested, whipped, humiliated, and thrown in prison. While in prison, there was an earthquake. Then the Roman officials in the town asked him to leave. Paul had a rough time in Philippi, but he chose to focus on what he was grateful for. 

To follow Paul’s example, we don’t need to deny the hurts in our lives. Neither do we need to excuse…

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I’ll never forget my first year leading Saddleback Church. I constantly worked 18-hour days. In fact, Kay did, too. On the last Sunday of that first year, I stood up to speak and fainted. I was exhausted.

Over the next year, God taught me some things that were critical in helping me continue the next 40 years of ministry at Saddleback. During that year, God gave me these Scriptures:

“I will not do it all in one year, for the land would become a wilderness, and the wild animals would become too many to control. But I will drive them out a little at a time, until your population has increased enough to fill the land” (Exodus 23:29-30 TLB).

Those verses changed my life. They’re the reason I call the principles in this passage “pacing growth.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the church. We need to learn to relax or we’ll burn out. But relaxing is hard for most of us. 

In this article, I’ll share with you five reasons we struggle to relax—and what we can do to…

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Because we live on a broken planet, no one is immune from painful emotions. We all get hurt. As pastors, even we have hidden hurts from the past. We carry wounds, battle scars, and emotional pain—often more than most. 

We also spend a lot of time helping others recover from the pain of their past. But here’s the good news: God cares about the emotional pain we carry. 

He wants to restore us from the painful emotions that keep us from the life and ministry he has called us to embrace. 

Here’s how God restores us from three of the most damaging emotions in our lives.

  1. God removes our guilt.

Guilt can be overwhelming. And since we’re all imperfect, we all experience guilt at certain points in our lives. We can’t escape it either. It’s in our minds, so we carry it wherever we go.

We come up with different solutions for getting rid of guilt. We often minimize, rationalize, or compromise it. But none of those solutions fully satisfy us.

Only one response to our guilt really works. It’s the most…

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God wants all of us to grow. Maturity is one of his purposes for our lives. In fact, Hebrews 6:1 tells us, “Let’s press on to maturity” (CEB). God intends for us to always pursue spiritual growth so that we may “be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29 ESV).  

One of God’s five purposes for your church is to help your congregation grow in spiritual maturity. But there’s a lot of confusion about what Christian maturity looks like. As you’re making disciples, it’s important that you are clear about what it means to grow more like Jesus. 

Maturity isn’t about age. You can be a Christian for 50 years and still not be mature. 

Maturity isn’t about appearance. Some people may look spiritually mature, but they aren’t. Just because someone appears dignified, it doesn’t mean they are holy. 

Maturity isn’t about achievement. You can accomplish much without being mature in your faith. 

Maturity isn’t about academics. A seminary degree or a Bible college degree doesn’t make you spiritually mature. 

You…

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Thinking Carefully

By Rick Warren

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.”

Proverbs 4:23 (GNT) 

God is far more interested in changing your mind than changing your circumstances. 

We want God to take away all of our problems, pain, sorrow, and suffering. But God wants to work on us first. Transformation won’t happen in your life until you renew your mind and your thoughts begin to change. 

Your thoughts are powerful. They have tremendous ability to shape your life for good or for bad. For example, maybe you believed the lie someone told you about yourself when you were growing up: “You’re worthless. You don’t matter.” If you accepted that thought, even though it wasn’t true, it shaped your life. 

The way to be careful with your thoughts is to examine them because some thoughts are good, but others aren’t. Careless thoughts lead to a careless life. 

This is one reason you get mentally fatigued: There’s a battle going on in your brain 24 hours a day. Satan is trying to neutralize your mind—your greatest asset in this battle. He wants…

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