I recently ran across Paul Bradshaw’s 2006 interview with Rick Warren, the best-selling author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and a pastor at Saddleback Church in Orange County. Typically, I’m very suspicious of the Christian “it” celebrities and their latest-and-greatest books – or, as my dad calls it, “pablum” (fantastic word – if you don’t know it, look it up… and then use it in a sentence). But I have to admit that I have a hard time finding a whole lot of fault with Rick Warren. There is much to respect about the man, including his role as facilitator for last weekend’s interviews with Barack Obama and John McCain.
Much of what Warren said in this interview from 2 years ago jumped out at me. I think you should read it – I think everyone should read it. Here’s an excerpt:
Life is a series of problems: either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than he is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life: the goal is to grow in character, in Christ-likeness.
I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you got to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is “my problem, my issues, my pain.”
But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. (For the entire interview, go here.)
We live in a self-centered culture, and my eyes are being opened more and more every day to my own glaring obsession with myself. I look out for my own well-being, and think about my own needs, and have a journal and a calendar and a prayer life and a thought life and conversations related solely to myself. But if I see the meaning and purpose of life simply “to be happy” or “to enjoy myself,” then I am missing the point.
Life gains significance only when we give ourselves away.
And for a beautiful illustration of this, rent “Bella” and watch it tonight.