Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Stewardship - Rick Warren

What would you do if you won the lottery and the notoriety from your good fortune propelled you into the media spotlight? That’s not exactly what happened to Rick Warren, but it is close enough to get us started. What happened to Warren is that he wrote the bestselling hardcover book of all time, The Purpose Driving Life. This resulted in tremendous fame and wealth. Warren acknowledges, "It brought in a ton of money. The first thing we decided was that we wouldn't let it change our lifestyle one bit."

Warren was featured in a recent issue of U.S. News & World Report focused on our nation’s best leaders. The magazine reports that despite all their new wealth, the Warrens live in their same house and continue to drive their same four-year-old Ford SUV. They bought no vacation homes or fancy clothes. You can personally verify the clothes part by looking at any picture of Warren. As the article says about his appearance before a gathering of pastors, “Pastor Rick Warren, look[ed] his usual relaxed self in an untucked sport shirt, spiked hair, and signature goatee.” That’s the same way he appears on Sunday mornings, by the way. There is nothing fancy about Rick Warren.

Since he began receiving significant royalties from his book sales, he has drawn no salary from his church and has paid back the salary he received for the previous 25 years. The Warrens currently give away 90 percent of their income and they have formed three charitable foundations with part of that 90 percent. This is all in the U.S. News & World Report article, and I tell you all this to give you one good example of religious leadership. Counter to Warren’s example is that of the scribes and Pharisees mentioned by Jesus in today’s gospel lesson.


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