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Rick Warren’s got a purpose

Rick Warren – pastor, author and inspirational speaker. Chris Anderson introduces his as a philanthropist, who gives 90% of his income to charity, and someone who has profound influence within the White House.

He starts by telling us that “spiritual emptiness is a universal disease” – most people get up, go to work, watch TV, go to bed – that’s
“not living, that’s just existing”. He believes that “you’re not an accident – your parents may not have planned you, but God planned you.” You matter to God, to history and to the universe.

Much of Warren’s talk is about money, specifically his money. For the past three years, “The Purpose Driven Life” has been the best selling book worldwide. This, unsurprisingly, brings in a ton of money. Rick has decided to do five things with that money:

– Don’t use it for their personal gain
– Stop taking a salary from his church
– Pay back what the church had paid him over the years
– Form three foundations to fund work against illiteracy, poverty, HIV/AIDS and pandemic diseases
– Become reverse tithers, giving 90% of their income away.

Explaining his decisions about money and ways to use his influence, he concludes that your significance in life comes from being good and doing good. Your significance comes from service – that’s the way we’re wired by God. This means that his role, now that he’s a person of influence, is to try to speak for those who don’t have influence.

We get a brief scriptural exegesis on a passage from Exodus, where God asks Moses: “What’s that in your hand?” Moses is holding a staff, which God turns into a serpent and back again. The staff, he tells us, signifies Moses’s identity, income and influence. When Moses lays it down, God makes it come alive, makes the impossible possible.

Talking to NBA players at the All-Star game, he asked them the same question: what’s in your hand? That basketball represents identity, income, influence – all the roles a player has on the court and off, for the rest of their life. How can you put that ball down and then pick it back up in the service of something else?

(I’m interested to see how this talk is recieved. It’s certainly not a sermon, but it’s very far from the other talks we’ve heard so far at TED.)

1 thought on “Rick Warren’s got a purpose”

  1. I am so glad to hear the topic of service and spirituality is a topic thta this crowd of people finds worthy. GREAT. I too believe in deep service to our fellows.

    When we give help, we recieve and when we recieve we give. it is a miraculous circle! Each of us has an obligtion to our fellow man to reach out i both directions. Bravery and humility show when you ask for a hand, thus inspiring others to also ask. The gifts flow from both sides. The face of God is in another…

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