But Warren didn't turn out to be just any baby-boomer minister. Today he heads Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of the largest congregations in the country with weekend attendance of about 50,000. He counsels power brokers from Hollywood to Wall Street to Capitol Hill. Warren is also one of the best-selling American authors of all time because of "The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?" (Zondervan, 2002). The book has sold more than 20 million copies since it was published in October 2002. In the last few years, Warren has broadened his ministry to include the homeless in America, AIDS orphans in Africa, and many others.
In part one of a two-part interview, Beliefnet Editor David Kuo talks with Warren about "the Jesus thing to do" and his surprising relationship with God.
Let’s start with hope. What gives you the most hope every day?
What gives me the most hope every day is God’s grace; knowing that his grace is going to give me the strength for whatever I face, knowing that nothing is a surprise to God.
You mentioned that nothing is a surprise to God. But what surprises you about God?
|Rick Warren on God|
Once you really grasp that, you’ll never again have to deal with inferiority or insecurity. A lot of times we blame our problems - I talk to a lot of believers who say, “You know I just don’t love God enough.” And I say "No, that isn’t your problem. You just don’t understand how much He loves you." Because if you did you couldn’t help but love Him because you were made to be loved by God.
|Rick Warren on God's love|
I remember when I was sick a couple of years ago I had to pray every day for the strength to receive the love of those around me. I found a line from [William] Blake that said we are here to learn to “endure the beams of love.” It is a staggering truth.
You have arguably sold more hardcover books than anyone apart from God. You have had your own health problems and so has your wife. You could pack things up, have a nice life, have a house in several cities in a private jet. But you are giving your life and everything you have to serve the poor. Why?
|Rick Warren on changing priorities|
"One day God is going to ask you two questions..."
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God’s goal in life isn’t to make me comfortable. He isn’t interested in my comfort as he is in my character. This is the grow-up stage. The comfort, the joy, the relief from suffering and pain and all of that is going to come later in eternity, which we are going to enjoy for trillions of years.
|Rick Warren on God's first question|
I hope that most people know the answer to that: that I have accepted God’s grace; I have accepted what Jesus Christ has done for me.
|Rick Warren on God's second question|
Whether I have a day left or 50 years left, I’m going to make the most of what I’ve got for Jesus Christ today.
What family crisis led Warren and his wife to minister to Africa's poorest people? Read Part 2 of our interview with Rick Warren.