Day 41 – Final Thoughts on 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren

Whew! Though it took me nearly 60 days (rather than 40), I am glad I spent the beginning of 2006 with Rick Warren’s book (similarly to what I did with the Purpose-Driven Community last spring). I was deeply impressed, particularly with how Rick:
* Covered the essentials of the Christian life
* Consistently focused on God, rather than ourselves
* Balanced biblical theology with practical suggestions for spiritual growth
* Developed a few new (to me) insights on the relationship between beliefs and actions
* Emphasized how the Christian life is an ongoing process, not an event
* Made even old, familiar truths feel alive and relevant
* Kept it all remarkably concise and readable

To be sure, that doesn’t mean I agreed with Rick on very little detail of either theology or presentation: I did feel he occasionally glossed over important subtleties, and I have a slightly different perspective on how to reconcile the sovereignty of God with the source of evil. But those are minor quibbles. Overall, I completely agree with his fundamental perspective, and more importantly I feel his methodical approach to understanding God’s purposes for my life was of great benefit.

How? Well, paradoxically, the most useful lesson was merely realizing how far short I fall of God’s purposes. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of church/work/family life, and measure myself against my goals (or other people). Rick consistently and repeatedly forced me to examine my life against God’s standards and purposes, which wasn’t always pretty. Far from depressing me, though, these revelations encourage me to press deeper into God.

The second key takeaway was the idea of wor-ship as the opposite of wor-ry. I don’t normally think of myself as a ‘worrier’, in the sense of being fearful and anxious about the future. However, I realized that I tend to ‘worry’ over ideas and plans the way a dog ‘worries’ (gnaws) on a bone: more content than upset, but still unwilling to let go. I need to find a way to take all my ‘great learning‘ about God and use it as the basis of constant, faithful worship to Him and with Him, not just about Him. And trust that ultimately such worship is a better way to solve problems than merely applying my own intellect.

The third insight was his marvelous metaphor of the motorboat on autopilot, demonstrating how we can’t sustainably will ourselves to change unless we also change our beliefs. This isn’t so much about theology as it is about how we genuinely relate to Jesus, others, and ourselves — in that order! Do I really believe that Jesus is God? Do I really believe that my greatest happiness comes from dying to myself? If not, then all my attempts to do good will ultimately leave me feeling frustrated rather than fulfilled.

The final takeaway from his book — and the spiritual health assessment — is the recognition that I am extremely weak on evangelism. While I have many non-Christian friends — who are generally well aware that I’m a Christian — I rarely talk to them about spiritual things, invite my neighbors to church, or engage in evangelistic activity. To be sure, there’s various reasons for this situation (and many of them may be valid), but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m overall failing to fulfill this aspect of God’s purpose for my life. Worse, I don’t even have a clear vision of what I can or should do about it.

If you’re a Christian, and you read this, would you please pray for me? Even as I pray for you.

Prayer: God, I thank you for the privilege of sharing this journey with Rick Warren, as well as several readers who have written me, and others who may read it in the future. Father, ultimately speaking: I don’t matter, Rick doesn’t matter, and this blog doesn’t matter: only You matter. Help us to know you better, and manifest your purposes in our lives, relationships, character, ministry, and mission. Teach me — teach us all — how to share your love and purpose with those who so desperately need it. I ask all this in Jesus name,
Your child,
Ernie Prabhakar
March 11th, 2006

[Read More] for an index to all 40 entries of my blog on Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life.

P.S. Stay tuned for a new series on Book I of the Psalms.

What on Earth Am I Here For?
* Day 1: IT ALL STARTS WITH GOD: why I decided to spend the first 40 Days of 2006 on this book
* Day 2: YOU ARE NOT AN ACCIDENT: thoughts on open theism and the sovereignty of God
* Day 3: WHAT DRIVES YOUR LIFE?: shame, reconciliation, happiness, and other things that drive me
* Day 7: THE REASON FOR EVERYTHING: Ernie’s take on a theory of everything and the secret of life

Purpose #1: You Were Planned for God’s Pleasure

* Day 8: PLANNED FOR GOD’S PLEASURE: his novel approach to hedonism!
* Day 9: WHAT MAKES GOD SMILE?: focused on Noah as an ark-type (ark-type?) of someone who pleases God.
* Day 10: THE HEART OF WORSHIP: about winning through surrender
* Day 11: BECOMING BEST FRIENDS WITH GOD: the ritual of friendship
* Day 12: DEVELOPING YOUR FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD: the role of trust, hostility, and anger in friendship
* Day 13: WORSHIP THAT PLEASES GOD: the many faces of pleasing God
* Day 14: WHEN GOD SEEMS DISTANT: the ultimate test of faith

Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God’s Family

* Day 15: FORMED FOR GOD’S FAMILY: the blessing and burdens of family
* Day 16: WHAT MATTERS MOST: the farsightedness of love
* Day 17: FORMED FOR GOD’S FAMILY: why a Christian disconnected from a church is like “a football player without a team; a soldier without a platoon; a tuba player without an orchestra; and a sheep without a flock.”
* Day 19: CULTIVATING COMMUNITY: why transcendence is essential for healthy commitment
* Day 20: RESTORING BROKEN FELLOWSHIP: what it means to be a peacemaker, and thus a son of God
* Day 21: PROTECTING YOUR CHURCH: about the long journey of the church

Purpose #3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ

* Day 23: HOW WE GROW: the role of intention, reason, and emotion in spiritual maturity
* Day 24: TRANSFORMED BY TRUTH: about truth, God’s word, and orthopraxis
* Day 25: TRANSFORMED BY TROUBLE: about the gift of suffering
* Day 26: GROWING THROUGH TEMPTATION: about how and why God allows temptation
* Day 27: DEFEATING TEMPTATION: the keys to overcoming sin
* Day 28: IT TAKES TIME: why God is never late, but is rarely early…

Purpose #4: You Were Shaped for Serving God

* Day 29: ACCEPTING YOUR ASSIGNMENT: why service is one of those “Circle of Life” things
* Day 30: SHAPED FOR SERVING GOD: about the relation between passion and purpose
* Day 32: USING WHAT GOD GAVE YOU: reflections on how God has shaped me
* Day 34: THINKING LIKE A SERVANT: what it means to think like a servant
* Day 35: GOD’S POWER IN YOUR WEAKNESS: a major discussion of Transformational Powerlessness versus Systems Theory

Purpose #5: You Were Made for a Mission

* Day 36: MADE FOR A MISSION: the relationship between evangelism and mission
* Day 38: BECOMING A WORLD-CLASS CHRISTIAN: world-class Christians I know
* Day 39: BALANCING YOUR LIFE: what it means to be radically balanced
* Day 40: LIVING WITH PURPOSE: some of my personal mission statements