In Part II of this exclusive interview with Rick Warren (read part I), the author of "The Purpose-Driven Life" talks about his hopes and dreams for pursuing the "Jesus thing to do"--helping the poor across the world.

What is your dream?

Rick Warren on
a second reformation
I’m looking for a second reformation. The first reformation of the church 500 years ago was about beliefs. This one is going to be about behavior. The first one was about creeds. This one is going to be about deeds. It is not going to be about what does the church believe, but about what is the church doing.

The reformation of deeds is part of a larger trend. Do you think fighting poverty and disease are trendy? Is this just the latest thing that's going around?

I don’t know if it is trendy or not. I just know that God is calling on my life, that three years ago when the book came out the three major things that happened were the success of the book and the affluence and influence that came with it. In one quarter it earned $9 million (in royalties) alone. So I’m going, "OK, God, I don’t need this money... What are you doing with this? I don’t need this. I’m a pastor." And I certainly don’t think God gives you money or fame for your own ego.

I went to scripture and God gave me two passages, 1 Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72. In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul is talking to pastors about money and their salary and he says, "Those that teach the Gospel should make a living by the Gospel." In other words, it is OK to pay your pastor. "But," he says, "I will not accept that right because I want the free rein to serve God for free so that I am a slave to no man." And when I read that, I said that is what I want to do. I want to serve God for free so that I am a slave to no man. So three years ago, [my wife] Kay and I made five decisions.

First, we decided we would not change our lifestyle one bit no matter how much money came in. So I still live in the same house I’ve lived in for 15 years and I still drive the same Ford truck, have the same two suits, I don’t have a guest home, I don’t have a yacht, I don’t own a beach house, we just said that we aren’t going to use the money on ourselves.

Second, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, I added up all the church had paid me over the past 25 years and gave it all back. I gave it all back because I didn’t want anyone thinking that I did it for money. And I knew that God was raising me up to a position of prominence. I knew I was going to be under the spotlight and I wanted to live a life beyond reproach. So we gave it all back and the very next week it was either Time or Newsweek came and did an interview of me and the very first question they asked was, "What is your salary?" I was able to say honestly I’ve been able to serve my church free for 25 years. It felt so good to bust that stereotype.

"Every time I give it breaks the grip of materialism in my life."
Read more on page 2 >>

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  • I don’t know a single pastor who does it for money. There are so many easier ways to make money. Believe me, if you want to make money, don’t be a pastor. But a lot of media think that the pastors are in it for the money. Every one of them I know would serve for free if they could.

    Rick Warren on reverse tithing
    Kay and I became reverse tithers. When we got married 30 years ago, we began tithing 10%. Each year we would raise our tithe 1% to stretch our faith: 11% the first year, 12% the second year, 13% the third year. Every time I give, it breaks the grip of materialism in my life. Every time I give, it makes me more like Jesus. Every time I give, my heart grows bigger. And so now, we give away 90% and we live on 10%. That was actually the easy part, what to do with the money--just give it away, because I'm storing up treasures in heaven.

    Warren’s Repentance and New Passion

    On the other hand, though, I said, "What do you want me to do with the influence?"--which was a trickier thing. All of a sudden I start to get invitations. I spoke at Harvard and Cambridge and Oxford... All of a sudden I’m going up on Capitol Hill and talking to guys. Producers in Hollywood are asking me to come up and discuss the book with eight or nine major studio producers.

    Rick Warren on using his influence
    This wasn’t my plan. My plan was just to pastor Saddleback and train pastors. So I’m going, "God, what am I supposed to do with all of this new influence that you are giving me?" I’m reading through the scriptures trying to find an answer, and I find Psalm 72, which is Solomon’s prayer for more influence.

    When you read this prayer it really sounds quite selfish. Solomon is the wisest and wealthiest and most powerful man in the world, because he is the head of the United Kingdom of Israel when it is at the apex of its power. He prays, "God, I want you to make me more influential. I want you to bless me and give me more power. I want you to make me famous. I want you to spread the fame of my name to many nations."

    It sounds selfish until you understand he says, "So that the king may support the widow and orphan, care for the poor, defend the defenseless, lift up the fallen, release the captive, help the foreigner, the immigrant."

    God said to me, "The purpose of influence is to speak up for those who have no influence." That changed my life. I had to repent. I had to say, "God, I’m sorry. I can’t think of the last time I thought about widows or orphans. They aren’t even on my agenda."

    "Always being in the spotlight blinds you."
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  • It wasn’t like I was wasting my time twiddling my thumbs. There are 82,000 names on our church roll. We're building a megachurch, baptized 15,000 new believers in the last 10 years. So I wasn’t just goofing off. But God said, "But you don’t care about the people I care about." And I said, "I’m sorry, God, and I will use whatever affluence and influence you give me [for] the rest of my life to help those who have no influence." So that was the first thing that changed my life.

    The second thing that changed my life was when Kay read an article by Newsweek that says 14 million orphaned by AIDS in Africa. She threw it on the ground and said, "I couldn’t imagine 14 million people being orphaned by anything much less AIDS." She said, "I don’t know one orphan." And as she began to read the article, God said, "You can either open your heart to this and let your heart be broken, or you can close your heart off and not be used." So she made the decision to say, "I will be a spokesman and use my influence for people who are infected and affected by AIDS."

    When she comes to me and shares this with me she says, "I am a white suburban pastor’s wife, what can I do?" And as she began to share it with me my first thought is, "Honey that is great and I am glad for you and for your vision. You supported me in the vision of starting the church and I’m going to support you. But it isn’t my vision. It just isn’t my vision."

    But the more she began to talk to me the more it began to grab my heart. And break my heart. We always say the most powerful talk is pillow talk. The husband may be the head of the family, but the wife is the neck that turns the head.

    When she was going to Africa later that year to Mozambique and Malawi to work with people infected with AIDS, I decided to go with her. So I go with her to Johannesburg. We trained about 80,000 to 90,000 pastors that week. And I thought that is why I had gone.

    Rick Warren on his reach to Africa
    But God had another idea. After the conference was over, I said, "Take me out to a village." I want to see a normal, average church and meet normal pastors, the guys I dedicated "The Purpose-Driven Church" to. So we go out to this little village and we find this tent church. It was 75 people, 50 adults and 25 kids orphaned by AIDS.

    I get out of the car, and this young African pastor walks up to me and says, "I know who you are." I said, "How do you know who I am?" He said, "You're Pastor Rick." I said, "How do you know who I am?" He said, "I get your sermons every week."

    Now here is the thing. I decided in 1980, when I started the church, that I was never going to put the services of the church on TV or the radio, because I didn’t want to be a celebrity. Always being in the spotlight blinds you. What I did was put them all on the Internet. We were the first church on the Internet in 1992. We charged people who could pay for them and gave them away free to the rest of the world.

    So I looked at this guy and said, "How are you getting my sermons? You don’t even have water or electricity in this village." He said, "No, but they are putting the Internet in every post office in South Africa. So once a week I walk an hour and a half to the nearest post office and I download your free sermon and then I walk back and I teach it to my church." And he said, "Pastor Rick, you are the only training I’ve ever had."

    "When David takes on Goliath people go, 'Yeah God.'"
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  • When [this] hit me I burst into tears. Again, something broke in my heart and I said, "God, I will give the rest of my life for guys like that who are doing so much with so little." So I went out that night and sat out under the African skies and I said, "Ok God, you get the most glory when we take on the biggest problems. When David takes on Goliath people go, `Yeah God.'

    The Global Goliaths

    What are the problems that are so big in this world that don't seem solvable? The UN has failed at them. America has failed at them. Business has failed at them. Governments have failed at them. I came to the conclusion that there are several big problems--the global Goliaths.

    Rick Warren on being made by God
    Number one is spiritual emptiness. Most people don't know that they're not an accident. That they were made by God and for God, they were made for a purpose, this life is not all there is, they're made to last forever. This life is preparation for the next. Jesus came to earth so that their past can be forgiven, they have a purpose for living, and a home in heaven.

    The second biggest problem is egocentric leadership. Poor leadership is the cause of poverty and disease and illiteracy. They tried to solve these problems without the church which is the only thing big enough. The only thing growing faster than the AIDS pandemic is the church.

    I went to the scriptures and I said, "God, what is the plan?" That is where I came up with this PEACE plan, the antidote to these global giants.

    P - Plant a church or partner with a church if there is one there. It always starts with a church... in, through, and to the church.

    E - Equip servant leaders.
    A - Assist the poor.
    C - Care for the sick.
    E - Educate the next generation.

    Rick Warren on the five things Jesus did
    It's the five things Jesus did when he was here on earth. The first thing he did was he planted a church. The second thing he did was equip leaders. He spent three years training these disciples. The third thing he did was he cared for the poor. In fact, in his very first sermon, he says, "I am here to preach the good news to the poor." He cared for the poor. Fourth, he healed the sick. One-third of his ministry was a health ministry. The fifth thing is he taught. Particularly he cared about the next generation.

    So for the last two years, underground, stealth, we have been working on this PEACE Plan. We've been developing a prototype of it in 47 countries. We won't let anybody do the PEACE plan by themselves. You have to do it in a team, in community.

    There are 2.1 billion people who claim to be followers of Christ. If you just mobilize half of them that would be a billion people. That would be quite a force.

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