Rick Warren is an evangelical leader, best-selling author, and founding and senior pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with his wife, Kay, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a single family to fill the pews. Today the church has a 120-acre campus, 22,000 weekly attendees, and has provided spiritual guidance and source material to over 400,000 ministers worldwide.
He also leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. More than 400,000 ministers and priests have been trained worldwide, and almost 157,000 church leaders subscribe to the Ministry ToolBox, his weekly newsletter. His previous book, The Purpose Driven Church is listed in “100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.” Forbes magazine called it "the best book on entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in print.”
Warren received his BA from California Baptist College, his MA from the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, and his Doctor of Ministry from the Fuller Theological Seminary. Warren has recently taken on several issues previously ignore by the evangelical community; he is the most prominent signatory of the "Evangelical Climate Initiative," and is the co-founder and co-director (with his wife) of The Global PEACE Fund, which fights poverty, disease, and illiteracy. Warren has spoken at the United Nations, the World Economic Forum in Davos, the African Union, and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Question: How do you get that “a-ha!” moment?
Rick Warren: Creativity really, for a pastor, comes in two ways.
First there’s something that works universally with everybody whether you’re a believer or not; and that is you study, study, study intensely on a subject. And then after you’ve thought on it, you set it aside and you go do something totally relaxing. And it is in that relaxing period that your subconscious goes to work and will often organize what you need to do. Sometimes you get the brightest idea in the shower, or driving, or sitting in the backyard. It’s very hard to prepare a message if you don’t build in the pauses. Any speech, any message would be more effective and be more creative if you allow time to intensely study it and then take a break; intensely study and then take a break. As a pastor I have also God’s spirit which gives me ideas. We say that when God gives you an idea, that’s called inspiration. When the devil gives you an idea, that’s called temptation. And when you give yourself an idea, that’s just called an idea. And all the time you’re getting all three, you know? It’s like do I do the good? Do I do the bad, or whatever?
And there are many times I’ve been studying a particular text of scripture, and I’ll say, “God, what does this really mean? I don’t really understand it. It doesn’t make sense. What does it mean?” And I will ask a question, and I’ll say, “Dear Lord, help me to know what this means. And give me the ideas. And even as I sleep, you rearrange my subconscious.”
And oftentimes I’ll ask a question as I go to sleep, and when I wake up the next morning it’s just there. And the outline comes very, very quickly.
Recorded on: December 11, 2007