What on earth am I here for?


Rick Warren

Zondervan, 2002, 331 pp.

WarPurp2 03-1-10


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA.  His book, The Purpose Driven Church, is my favorite book on doing church.  The first sixty pages of this book are as good as anything I’ve read in the past couple of years.  The remainder of the book appears to be abbreviated sermons on Warren’s five purposes of the church.  Rick is a word wizard.  Almost everything he writes is a quotable sound bite. 


What Rick says about global evangelism is very good but it is a subtopic under the evangelism purpose.   I believe Warren’s paradigm could be strengthened by making “the glory of God in all the earth” (or “the worship of God among all peoples”) the overarching aim of the five purposes.  In this way, the global context and goal of the church would be kept in the forefront.


The five purposes: “to love him, to be a part of his family, to become like him, to serve him, and to tell others about him,” or to be “a member of his family, a model of his character, a magnifier of his glory, a minister of his grace, and a messenger of his Good News to others.”  (282,295)


“It’s not about you.   …you must begin with God.  You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.  …life is about letting God use you for his purposes, not your using him for your own.”  “The purpose of your life fits into a much larger, cosmic purpose that God has designed for eternity.” (17-21)


“God’s motive for creating you was his love.”  “We discover that meaning and purpose only when we make God the reference point of our lives.” (24-25)


“Everyone’s life is driven by something.”  “What is the driving force in your life?”  Guilt?  Resentment?  Fear?  Materialism?  Need for approval?  “Nothing matters more than knowing God’s purposes for your life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing them.”  “Without a purpose, life is motion without meaning, activity without direction, and events without reason.  Without a purpose, life is trivial, petty, and pointless.”  Knowing your purpose gives meaning to life, simplifies your life, focuses your life, and prepares you for eternity.  “There is nothing quite as potent as a focused life, one lived on purpose.”   (27-33)


“Life on earth is just the dress rehearsal before the real production.”  “…start living in light of eternity.”  “The closer you live to God, the smaller everything else appears.”  “God offers you an opportunity beyond your lifetime.”  (36-40)


“Character is both developed and revealed by tests, and all of life is a test.”  “Nothing is insignificant in your life.  Even the smallest incident has significance for your character development.”  “…money is both a test and a trust from God.  God watches how we use money to test how trustworthy we are.”  (43-46)


“Life is extremely brief, …a temporary residence.  You won’t be here long, so don’t get too attached.”  (47)”The abundant life has nothing to do with material abundance….”  “You will not be in heaven two seconds before you cry out, ‘Why did I place so much importance on things that were so temporary?”  (47-51)


“The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God.”  “…living for God’s glory is the greatest achievement we can accomplish with our lives.”  We bring glory to God by worshiping him, loving other believers, becoming like Christ, serving others, and telling others about him.  “Worship is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving him, and giving ourselves to be used for his purposes.”  (53-57)


“…he chose to create you for his own enjoyment.  You exist for his benefit, his glory, his purpose, and his delight.”  “Anything you do that brings pleasure to God is an act of worship.”  “Worship isn’t for you.  It’s for God.”  “This is the secret to a lifestyle of worship—doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus.”  “Real worship is all about falling in love with Jesus.”  (63-67)


“The smile of God is the goal of your life.  …your most important task is to discover how….”  God smiles when you love him supremely, trust him completely, obey him wholeheartedly, praise and thank him continually, and use our abilities.  “He longs for you to know him and spend time with him.”  “We please God by what we do and not only by what we believe.”  “When you live in light of eternity, your focus changes from ‘How much pleasure am I getting out of life?’ to ‘How much pleasure is God getting out of my life?’” (69-76)


“The heart of worship is surrender.”  The desire to have complete control is the source of much stress.  “Our struggle…is really a struggle with God!  We want to be God….”  “You know you’re surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation.”  “Retirement is not the goal of a surrendered life….”  “Nothing is more powerful than a surrendered life in the hands of God.”  “…if you fail to worship him, you will create other things to give your life to.”  “…the greatest hindrance to God’s blessing in your life…is yourself—your self-will, stubborn pride, and personal ambition.  You cannot fulfill God’s purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans.”  “What area of my life am I holding back from God?”  (77-84)


“Friendship with God is built by sharing all your life experiences with him… through constant conversation.”  “Practicing the presence of God is a skill, a habit you can develop.”  “You must train your mind to remember God.”  “Develop the practice of reviewing the truth in your mind, thinking about it over and over.”  “The more you become God’s friend, the more you will care about the things he cares about….”  God cares most about the redemption of his people.  “He wants all his lost children found!”  (87-97)


“The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seem distant.”  (107)


“The entire Bible is the story of God building a family who will love him, honor him, and reign with him forever.”  (117)


“Because God is love, the most important lesson he wants you to learn on earth is how to love.  It is in loving that we are most like him….”  “Learning to love unselfishly is not an easy task.”  “Relationships, not achievements or the acquisition of things, are what matters most in life.”  “Busyness is a great enemy of relationships.”  “The point of life is learning to love—God and people.  Life minus love equals zero.”  “The best expression of love is time.”  “The most desired gift of love is…focused attention.”  (123-127)


“We are not just to model God’s love by loving each other; we are to carry it together to the rest of the world.”  (135)


“Nothing on earth is more valuable to God than his church.  He paid the highest price for it, and he wants it protected, especially from the devastating damage that is caused by division, conflict, and disharmony.  If you are a part of God’s family, it is your responsibility to protect the unity where you fellowship.  You are commissioned by Jesus Christ to do everything possible to preserve the unity, protect the fellowship, and promote harmony in your church family and among all believers.”  (161)


“Christlikeness is all about transforming your character, not your personality.”  “Obedience unlocks God’s power.”  “God uses his Word, people, and circumstances to mold us.”  “…many believers have abandoned living for God’s great purposes and settled for personal fulfillment and emotional stability.”  (173-178)


“We become what we’re committed to.”  “To change your life, you must change the way you think.”  “Every behavior is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude.”  “…start thinking maturely, which focuses on others, not yourself.”  “Thinking of others is the heart of Christlikeness.…”  (180-183)


“The truth transforms us.  Spiritual growth is the process of replacing lies with truth.”  “…we must fill our lives with his Word.”  “The most important decision you can make today is to settle this issue of what will be the ultimate authority for your life.”  “…receive it, read it, research it, remember it, and reflect on it.”  (185-8)


“God develops the fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you’re tempted to express the exact opposite quality!”  Re temptation: “To avoid being stung, stay away from the bees.”  (202, 211)


 “There are no shortcuts to maturity.”  “The development of Christlike character cannot be rushed.”  “The moment you open yourself to Christ, God gets a ‘beachhead’ in your life.  You may think you have surrendered all your life to him, but the truth is, there is a lot to your life that you aren’t even aware of.  You can only give God as much of you as you understand at that moment.  That’s okay.  Once Christ is given a beachhead, he begins the campaign to take over more and more territory until all of you life is completely his.”  “Your character is the sum total of your habits.”  “There is only way to develop the habits of Christlike character: You must practice them—and that takes time!  There are no instant habits.”  “If you practice something over time, you get good at it.”  (217-221)


“You are going to give your life for something.  What will it be…?  “God wants to use you to make a difference in his world.”  (232-233) 


“The best use of your life is to serve God out of your shape.  To do this you must discover your shape, learn to accept and enjoy it, and then develop it to its fullest potential.”  Assess your gifts and abilities.  Ask people.  Experiment with different areas of service and ministries.  Consider you heart and personality.  What do you really enjoy doing?  When do you feel most fully alive?  Review your life and think about how it has shaped you.   (249-252)


“We serve God by serving others.”  “…acting like a servant is not a popular concept.”  “God determines your greatness by how many people you serve, not how many people serve you.”  “God shaped you for service, not for self-centeredness.”  “Your secondary service is wherever you’re needed at the moment. …your servant’s heart will reveal your maturity.”  “Great opportunities often disguise themselves in small tasks.”  (257-61)


“Money has the greatest potential to replace God in your life.  More people are sidetracked from serving by materialism than by anything else.”  “God uses your money to test your faithfulness as a servant.”  “…Kingdom Builders…make as much money as they can, but they do it in order to give it away.”  (267-68)


“Humility is not putting yourself down or denying your strengths; rather, it is being honest about your weaknesses.”  “At some point in your life you must decide whether you want to impress people or influence people.  You can impress people from a distance, but you must get close to influence them, and when you do that, they will be able to see your flaws.”  That’s okay.”  (276-77)


“You were made for a mission.  God is at work in the world, and he wants you to join him.  This assignment is called your mission.  God wants you to have both a ministry in the Body of Christ and a mission in the world.”  “The mission Jesus had while on earth is now our mission because we are the Body of Christ.”  “To fulfill your mission will require that you abandon your agenda and accept God’s agenda for your life.  You can’t just ‘tack it on’ to all the other things you’d like to do with your life.”  “You hand God a blank sheet with your name signed at the bottom and tell him to fill in the details.”  (281-286)


“…make a list of your life lessons.  You haven’t really thought about them unless you have written them down.”  “As you grow closer to him, he will give you a passion for something he cares about deeply so you can be a spokesman for him in the world.”  “If you ask God, he will burden your heart for a specific country or ethnic group that desperately needs a strong Christian witness.”  “Never belittle someone else’s godly passion.” (292-93)


“You will be either a world-class Christian or a worldly Christian.” “God invites you to participate in the greatest, largest, most diverse, and most significant cause in history—his kingdom.”  “It has never been easier in history to fulfill your commission to go to the whole world.  The great barriers are no longer distance, cost, or transportation.  The only barrier is the way we think.”  “His followers were to reach out to their community (Jerusalem), to their country (Judea), to other cultures (Samaria), and to other nations (everywhere in the world).  Note that our commission is simultaneous, not sequential.”  “If you want to be like Jesus, you must have a heart for the whole world.”  “The Great Commission is your commission, and doing your part is the secret to living a life of significance.” (297-304)


“Your life is a pentathlon of five purposes, which you must keep in balance.”  …they are summarized in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus.”  (305)


“Living on purpose is the only way to really live.  Everything else is just existing.”  (312)


A life purpose statement summarizes God’s purposes for your life, points the direction of your life, defines ‘success’ for you, clarifies your roles, and expresses the unique ways God made you to serve him.  (313)