Rick Warren, the 59-year-old pastor at the 20,000-member Saddleback Church in California, is preparing for "retirement" in a few years much like he has spent his ministry – by living simply and focusing on God.
Warren, the author of A Purpose Driven Life, the most reprinted non-fiction book on a global scale after the Bible, has often spoken about the importance of living humbly and within one's means.
"The Bible teaches that we are to love people and use money, but we often get that reversed and you start loving money and using people to get more money. Money is simply a tool to be used for good," the California pastor has said.
A piece by Forbes.com reminds readers that Warren's ministry has grown around the world and he is one of the most successful megachurch leaders in America. But he has resisted the temptation of using that for a luxurious lifestyle. Instead, he has focused his efforts on several charity and good-will campaigns, most notably in the fight against AIDS in Africa, which he has visited often to inspire and encourage leaders.
"I drive a 12-year-old Ford, have lived in the same house for the last 22 years, bought my watch at Wal-Mart, and I don't own a boat or a jet," Warren revealed. He also stopped taking a salary from his church after the success of A Purpose Driven Life and even went as far as returning all that he earned from the church.
Now that the evangelical leader is nearing his 60s, Forbes detailed how the pastor has lined up his retirement plans.
Warren has said that he will retire when he turns 65, in the summer of 2020 – not because he thinks he will lack energy, but "because the church will need a new face."
The Saddleback pastor was careful to explain, however, that the word "retirement" is not really a biblical concept, and that what he will be doing instead is a "transition."
"You may change jobs, you may change vocations and you may volunteer for free, but there is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years."
Warren maintained that people can continue serving God and doing good in old age, even if they have to make some adjustments.
"The Bible says that as long as your heart is beating God has a plan and purpose for your life … to grow personally, to get to know God, to serve others, and make the world a better place."
Warren continued: "In retirement, what we have to ask is 'What's going to be the center of my life?' because if you don't have a solid center it's going to fall apart. Then we have to say, 'Who are going to be my life companions; who will be my associates, my circle of influence; what is going to be the character of my life; how am I going to keep growing?' I think in retirement you have to focus more on your ministry and your mission, or 'How can I give back to the world or make the world a better place in my final years?'"
Pastor Warren's next big event will be the The Exponential 2013: DiscipleShift conference in Orlando, April 22-25, which will be hosted by evangelical leaders like Francis Chan and Craig Groeschel and serve to inspire Christian leaders on how they can grow in their faith and motivate others.