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Rick Warren’s Health ‘Is Not Good Right Now,’ but He Is Trusting God While Pursuing ‘Giant’ Ministry Goals

rick warren
Photo courtesy of Rick Warren

Rick Warren’s health “is not good right now,” and the pastor says his health challenges are making his current season of ministry difficult. Warren shared this news in an interview on the Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast, where he discussed the relationship between faith in God and pursuing our dreams. 

“I’ve been in a two-year battle with an autoimmune disease,” Warren told host Ed Stetzer and co-host Daniel Yang. “It’s not life-threatening. It won’t even last. It lasts between three to five years. But without getting into all the details, the bottom line is it leaves my muscles, all my major muscles in pain pretty much 24 hours a day.”

Listen to our interview with Rick Warren below: 

The Stetzer ChurchLeaders Podcast · Rick Warren on Faith, Dreams, and Why His 40-Plus Years at Saddleback Prepared Him for This Moment

Rick Warren: ‘Timing Is Everything’

Dr. Rick Warren co-founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, in 1980 with his wife, Kay. In 2022, he stepped down from the lead pastor role at Saddleback. Warren continues his ministry through his Daily Hope Devotional and his podcast, Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope, as well as through Finishing the Task, which “exists to convene and to catalyze the global body of Christ towards the goal of ensuring that everyone, everywhere has access to a Bible, Believer and Body of Christ.”

Warren is the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the bestselling nonfiction books in publishing history. His latest book, his first in a decade, is “Created to Dream: The 6 Phases God Uses to Grow Your Faith.”

The pastor shared that his current ministry objectives are grander than they have ever been. Through Finishing the Task, he hopes to help the global church accomplish “four giant goals.” First, he wants all people in the world to have access to the Bible in their “heart language,” that is, their mother tongue.

Second, he wants everyone in the world to have access to a church. Third, he wants every person to hear the gospel directly from another person, not simply through media. And finally, he wants everyone across the globe to be prayed for by name at least one time in the next 10 years.

These goals are more than achievable, despite their enormity, said Warren, who sees his “40-plus years at Saddleback Church” as “a learning experience preparing me for this greater role.” 

“I can step out and take on the biggest goal that you can think of, the evangelization of the whole world, because for 50 years I’ve been taking smaller steps,” said the pastor.

However, Warren’s health, which he described as “debilitating,” has made this work challenging. “It’s tough walking, working, but it hasn’t changed the way that I think,” he said. “And the problem is I sometimes feel like I am this brain on fire and I’m in a wheelchair. I’m not [actually] in a wheelchair, but the bottom line is, it’s difficult to move around.”

Nevertheless, said Warren:

I do believe, as Scripture says, my times are in his hands, and I want to be directly in the center of the will of God. I don’t want to get ahead of his will. I want to get behind his will. I want to be at the pace that he wants. And so everything that happens in our lives is Father-filtered. That’s really part of what’s in the book, too, is that nothing can come into my life without the Heavenly Father’s permission.

Warren expounded on the relationship between having faith in God and pursuing our dreams, which is the focus of his new book, “Created to Dream.” It is also a topic that is personally relevant to him as he battles health issues while seeking to fulfill the Great Commission.