Kay Warren is an evangelical leader, author, AIDS activist, and co-founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Along with her husband, Rick, Warren founded Saddleback in 1980 with just a single family to fill the pews. Today it has 120-acre campus, 22,000 weekly attendees, and has provided spiritual guidance and source material to over 400,000 ministers worldwide.
In 2002, Warren became "seriously disturbed" by the scope of the AIDS epidemic; she has since set up an AIDS ministry at Saddleback and spoken out about the disease around the world. Warren is the co-founder and co-director (with her husband) of The Global PEACE Fund, which fights poverty, disease, and illiteracy.
Warren has spoken to the United Nations Global Coalition on Women and AIDS. In 2006, Warren was among eight women honored for their humanitarian efforts at the CNN Inspire Summit. Warren is the author of Foundations Participant's Guide and Dangerous Surrender: What Happens When You Say Yes to God.
Question: What happens when you say ‘yes’ to God?
Warren: Most amazing things happen when you say yes to God. The most unexpected things happen when you say yes to God. Somebody asked me if I could boil down all of my Christian faith into one word, and that word for me, as I thought about it, was the word “surrender”; or just in really simple terms, it’s saying yes to God. It’s saying that, “I believe God that you probably know what’s best for my life . . . for my life more than I do, and I’m willing to trust you with my life. And I’m willing to go along with what I understand to be your plans for my life.” And in so doing, it causes you to have to say no to yourself. Because honestly what gets in my way every day is myself. I call it in the book “the kingdom of me”; that to be really honest, the person I love the most is myself; and that I, like most people, am eager to make the world revolve around me. I want my comfort, my convenience. I want you to see life from my point of view. I want you to think I’m right. I want you to like the way I do things. So it’s we’re pretty self-centered creatures, all of us. And to say yes to God means, in many ways, saying no to myself. For instance, in a real practical way I can think of that is in a marriage. My husband and I are both self-centered people. We are. We love ourselves more than even we love each other unfortunately. And sometimes in an argument or a potential argument, I will want him to look at life through my set of lenses. I want him to see a situation from my point of view. And if he doesn’t, it’s really easy to get offended, to get wounded, to get hurt, to get bitter. Well to surrender to God is to take that same kind of analogy that I was saying in marriage of saying to my husband I can either fight for all my ways, my thoughts, my agenda, my dreams and kind of run over his; or I can many times kind of just go along with his. Well on a . . . on a bigger scale, that’s what it means to say yes to God. There is my way of doings things, which frequently involves jealousy; you know bitterness, anger, greed – all of those things are not God’s ways. Those don’t . . . those don’t come from God. So when I’m saying yes to God, I’m choosing His way. I’m choosing a response that’s really more like something He would choose, which would be love, compassion, mercy, grace, tenderness, giving people second chances. Those are all the things that come more from a heart of God than the ones that come from my heart.
Recorded on: 12/11/07