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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[…]

Rick Warren describes his understanding of the meaning of life.

Question: What is a purpose driven life?

Rick Warren: First of all you understand some basic things. You’re not an accident. You were made by God and you’re made for God. And until you understand that life’s never going to make sense. There are accidental parents, but there are no accidental children. There are illegitimate parents, but there are no illegitimate children. Your parents may not have planned you, but God did, and He wanted you alive.

Psalm 139 in the Bible tells us that before we were born, God planned our days in advance. He formed us in our mother’s womb; that He uniquely and custom-designed us. He shaped us for a purpose on this planet. And what the Bible teaches us, and what I believe, is that God created the entire universe just so He could create this galaxy; just so He could create the planet earth; just so it creates sustained human life. In other words, it sits on an axis so it doesn’t turn too much this way and burn up, or turn too much this way and freeze up. He perfectly sustains life.

Now why did He do this? The Bible says this over and over. He did it to love us; that we were created to be loved by God. If you want to know, or anybody who is watching this on the Internet wants to know why your heart is beating right now, why your lungs are taking breath, you were made to be loved by God.

The second principle is you’re made to last forever. The Bible teaches that this is not all there is; that we were made to last forever. One day your heart’s going to stop. That’ll be the end of your body, but it won’t be the end of you. It’s not an understatement to say that God has long-range plans for your life. And you’re actually going to spend more on that side of eternity than on this side. This life you get 60, 80, maybe 100 years at the most. It’s very, really, quite short. On the other side of eternity you’re going to spend millions, and millions, and millions, and actually trillions, and trillions, trillions of years in eternity.

So if we were to stretch a string from New York City all the way to, say, Johannesburg, South Africa, and that represented all of eternity, your life on this earth would just be the first little tiny millimeter compared to all the time you’re going to spend in eternity.

So if we only get 80 years, maybe, here on earth, what on earth am I here for? Well the Bible teaches that this life is preparation for the next. We are to practice some things here that get us ready for heaven. And these are the purposes of life. And it doesn’t matter what your religious background, your ethnic background, your social background — I believe these purposes are universal for every person.

The third thing is serving God. The Bible calls this ministry. Now how do you serve God? You cannot serve God directly on earth because we can’t even see Him. Well, if I can’t even see Him, how can I serve Him? The only way you can serve God on this planet is to serve God by serving other people. And when I help somebody else, out of my love for God, that’s called ministry. That’s called service, and it’s one of the purposes of life — learning to give our lives away.

So many people have low self-esteem today. And the reason they have low self-esteem is because they look in all the wrong places. You don’t find self-esteem in success, or status, or sex, or your salary, or any of these things. You find it in service — when we give our lives away.

I know many of the wealthiest people in the world. I know many of these billionaire people, and at some point you have to come to the point where you go, “It’s time for me to give something back. It’s time for me to do something to give my life away.”

And Jesus said you lose your life to find it.

And then the fourth thing that God wants us to do is to tell others. If I knew the cure for cancer, I’d be shouting it in the streets. If I knew the cure for AIDS, I would be telling it. In fact if I didn’t tell people about it, it would be criminal. If I knew the cure for AIDS and didn’t tell anybody about it, it would be criminal.

But I believe in the bottom of my heart that Jesus Christ says your past can be forgiven, you can have a purpose for living, and you can have a home in heaven. So I want as many people to know that as possible. I don’t do it out of duty. I don’t do it out of fear. I do it out of gratitude. It’s one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread. So you say, what do I believe. Well I believe these five purposes — knowing God, growing in God, serving God, sharing God with others, and honoring God; that’s called worship whenever we honor God with our lives — are what life’s all about. And that forms the basis of my worldview. My core beliefs affect everything that I do.

Recorded On: Dec 11, 2007