God never blesses us just for our own sake. It just doesnt happen. God always blesses us so that we can, in turn, bless others. Every time I think of that principle, one face is burned into my mind the face of a young African pastor I met a couple of years ago.
I was teaching the Purpose Driven Church seminar in Johannesburg, South Africa. After it was over, I said, "Take me out to a village. Take me out somewhere so I can just see some churches." They took me out to a township. We met two or three little churches. One of the churches we went to was a little tent church of 75.
This young pastor had no idea I was coming, but as I began to walk up the pathway to this little church, he walks out, looks at me, and says, I know who you are! Youre Pastor Rick!
I asked, How do you know who I am?
He said, I get your sermons every week.
How do you get my sermons? You dont have water or electricity in this town where you are. How do you get my sermons?
He said, Theyre putting the Internet in every post office in South Africa. So once a week, I walk about an hour and a half down to the nearest post office, I download your free sermons, and I come back and I teach it.
"Pastor Rick, you are the only training Ive ever had.
My heart of love went out to that guy. I will give the rest of my life for guys like that. Soldiers of the cross who are serving God with so little when God has given me so much. I will serve those people, and I will lay down my identity, my influence, and my income to help guys like that.
A long time ago, I decided we werent going to put the sermons on television at Saddleback. Instead, we put them on the Internet to help other pastors, particularly bi-vocational pastors, who are trying to work all week in a regular job and then put food on the table for the church. They dont have 20 hours to study like I do.
When I was planting Saddleback Church, other pastors sermons fed my own soul and eased my preparation. In fact, I still use other pastors sermons in my preparation time. If youve ever heard me talk about sermon preparation at all, you know I have a bucket file, where I toss illustrations, articles, and books on topics I plan to preach on. Among those other items I put in this file are sermons preached by other pastors. They give me ideas. They help me see Scripture in entirely new ways sometimes. I believe these sermons are like the commentaries of the 21st century.
I hope my sermons will do the same for you. Thats why I make them available to you on Pastors.com. Whether you use the outlines and transcripts for sermon ideas or listen to the preaching to fine-tune your delivery, Ill be thrilled if your ministry becomes more effective because of them. And if you have a sermon idea that might be helpful to me, feel free to share it!
Nobody is original; we all just learn from each other, whether you get it out of a book or get it off of a tape or whatever. We all stand on the shoulders of each other. Were all on the same team.
Lets help each other out and when we get to Heaven, we can rejoice together over the people who were saved as a result!
Until next time,
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at Pastors.com.