Warren Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California, was recently named by TIME magazine as one of the Top 100 influential people in the world today. Rick is the author of the best-selling book 'The Purpose Driven Life' and was also asked to pray at President Obama's recent inauguration.

Below is a transcript of a recent interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren. He has some insightful things to say.

In the interview, Rick said:

"People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven.

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body– but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal.

God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity. We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness, "which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal my wife or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better …

God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD."

10 thoughts on “An Interview with Rick Warren

  1. Hi Mark,
    I find myself concerned about Rick’s comment “God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity”.
    Firstly, it sets up a earth/heaven dualism which would leave us unconcerned about the here and now. God has us here for a missional purpose; we are here to declare that the Kingdom of God is near, and call people to repentance. We are here to “build for the Kingdom”.
    If we do not have a firm eschatalogical view that is earthly and embodied, but rather is heavenly and ethereal then “practicing on earth what we will do forever in eternity” sounds a hell of a lot like just doing “church stuff” rather than doing something about “kingdom stuff”. In which case the church just becomes a social club, and the world is left unchanged and unchallenged.
    What can I say… I think N. T. Wright’s “Surprised by Hope” should be compulsory reading for every Christian 🙂
    God bless,

  2. Responding to Bec’s comment, think his comment was made in a different context.
    Having read Rick Warren’s book and other articles, I’d like to vouch that he’s definitely not a dualist. But definitely agree with your take on doing ‘kingdom stuff’.

  3. Perhaps we need to keep in mind that Rick and his wife are obviously going through incredibly challenging times. I don’t see him as having a “dualistic” mentality but rather a “realistic” view on a hope for a better future both here and in Eternity.

  4. Yes, Cathy, I agree… I’m sure that it’s really challenging and tough for Rick and his wife right now. I have the greatest respect for Rick and love his heart. Having two daughters who have had breast cancer, one just right now who is also pregnant with her second child, I can understand what they are going through… my heart goes out to Rick and highly commend him for his faith in God and the stand that he is taking. In times like these you get to find out what really is important. Our Creator God placed us on this earth in order to learn to love God and others and to become more and more Christlike in character, before we go to our real home in Eternity. We can always trust God in every area and in every season of our lives, be it good or bad. Hope in Jesus never disappoints and His love never fails.

  5. Perhaps Bec should focus more on what Rick Warren has done with his life and ministry instead of latching on to an isolated comment made in an interview. Has Bec really sussed out Rick Warren’s eschatalogical view of life? Hmm not really sure there, or perhaps I should start making some judgement calls on what Bec thinks and how she lives her life based on an isolated comment made on a blog…

  6. I thought Bec made some interesting points, but my own expereince is that when I am more ‘heavenly – eternity’ minded – I am of more earthly good!
    ‘Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done… on earth as it is in heaven,’ I cannot get my head around all that Jesus means by that…will we ever see this?
    I do like CS Lewis’s spin on this all . that the earth is ‘the shadowlands’ a pale & monochromatic place …
    Mark G

  7. Sorry to hear about his wife. I received the above text in an e-mail. So I went on a Google expidition because, except for the odd comment or two, this doesn’t sound like Rick Warren at all, it doesn’t ‘flow’ like an interview either. It just might be a copy and paste job. Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Church’ is about watering down the Word of G-d in order to fill up church buildings, it’s not a Pauline type becoming all things to all men so that he might save some. It is about earthly kingdom building. Try to line up his verified writing with the scriptures, it doesn’t. His philosophy results in huge mega-churches filled with non-believers. Or people who don’t know what they believe. As for having a purpose driven life- Solomon tells us ‘Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear G-d, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man.’ And again in Micah ‘He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?’ We can only hope that in this affliction that Warren has learned G-d’s ways, and we should be praying as much also. If you have a moment, take a look at this article http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/warren/scripture.htm

  8. Why are there replies to this interview when it was done years ago- I found this site: Interview with Rick Warren by Paul Bradshaw/* By Rajwin Singh
    * Published 03/28/2005
    and this is still being past on in email as if it is this year. In 6 years I hope that Rick Warren has grown in Christ. I have read his book Purpose Driven Life and found that the first part had some good insights however the last part to the book was more doing then having focuse on God and who you are in Christ.

Leave a Reply