Searching for significance

National Advisory Organizations Conference 2007

God’s purpose for the Army is clear.

Dr. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, and NAB member Steve Reinemund, retired chairman of the board of PepsiCo., discuss The Salvation Army’s ministry.

Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life sold 25 million copies and is the bestselling hardcover book in American history. Following are excerpts from his address to the delegates at NAOC 2007.

I love The Salvation Army. When I was 18 years old, I read The General Next to God and it set the future course of my ministry. I thought William Booth understood what Jesus was about better than anybody I’d ever seen. I believe deeply in the values of The Salvation Army: That you must care about body and soul—there’s no dichotomy—you have to care about both.

Significant or Prominent?

Never confuse significance and prominence; they are not the same. My nose is very prominent—it just sticks out there—but it’s not significant. I could lose my nose and live my life. Inside of me, my heart, kidneys and lungs are not prominent but they are extremely significant. If I lost them, I’d die immediately.

Service is difficult. It’s time consuming, draining, de-energizing, fatiguing and sometimes makes you wonder; “Does what I’m doing really matter…is it making a difference? Why bother? Nobody really sees it. Maybe what I’m doing doesn’t matter because it’s not prominent.”

I say to you, “You’re dead wrong!” God is watching and is not unjust. Hebrews 6:10 promises, “He will not forget your work and the love that you have shown him as you help his people.”

The Bible says, “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come into his presence and know his love.” The bottom line is this…people matter to God. All parts of them matter: soul and body, spirit and heart, brain and education. It all matters.

Because God never made a person that he didn’t love, we need The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is love in action.

One day we all will stand before God, and answer a few questions: First, he’ll ask, “What did you do with my Son?” He’s not going to ask what denomination we were or where we went to church, because we weren’t made for religion, we were made for relationship with God.

He’ll ask another question: “What did you do with what I gave you?” Your talent, education, freedom, health, relationships, your mind—everything? You were blessed to be a blessing. That’s what The Salvation Army is all about.

The Bible calls the Church the body of Christ. The problem in many American churches, is that the hands and feet of the body of Christ have been amputated, and all that’s left is a big mouth! We’re good at speaking and not good at doing. Unfortunately, we’re known more for what we’re against than for what we are for!

You want to know what I’m for? I am for helping people—I am addicted to changed lives and stories about people that matter. Not the prominent, but the significant.

Save one more for Jesus

A minister for 50 years, my dad helped build over 150 churches all around the world, taking teams of volunteers wherever there was a need.

In the last week of his life, his cancer made him delirious. Awake almost 24 hours a day, my dad dreamed aloud—about what mattered most to him: building churches.

Right before he died, he became very agitated! He tried to get out of bed. My wife was there with me and said, “Jim, you’ve got to lay down, you can’t get out of bed.” He kept trying to get up. Finally, she asked, “Jimmy, what do you want?” He said, “I’ve gotta save one more for Jesus…gotta save one more for Jesus.”

He said it over and over. “Gotta save one more for Jesus.”

I decided to kneel by the bed in prayer—thanking God for a dad who knew that people mattered most. As I was praying, my dad put his frail hand on my head. He said, “Save one more for Jesus…save one more for Jesus.”

I intend that to be the theme for the rest of my life. I invite you to make it the theme of yours. Help people in body and soul and in spirit. Save precious, human lives—not just from death or damnation, but from a lack of dignity, despair, depression, defeat and discouragement, from death, drought and disillusionment. Save one more for Jesus!

Search for significance

In the next 365 days, 54 million people worldwide will die—they all need to know that God loves them and that their lives have meaning and significance. You are part of the greatest task in history—redeeming humanity.

It may be that the single most important thing you do is serve with The Salvation Army. It’s going to far outlast your career or your family. We’re talking about eternal destinies of people. Can you imagine someone in heaven saying to you, “You don’t know me, but I want to thank you. Your effort—service with The Salvation Army—changed my life. Forever! I am here in heaven because of you.”

Do you think that will be worth your time and money? Nothing else comes close!

There are three levels of living: survival, success, or significance. Most of the world lives at the survival level. With just the change in your pocket, you are wealthier than 96 percent of the world right now!

Most Americans live at the success level. Success means options—if I want to go to McDonalds or to a movie, I can. Yet people ask, “If I’m so successful, why am I not more fulfilled? Why don’t I feel more meaning in my life?

The answer is that you were made for more than success, you were made for significance.

Significance comes from knowing that God created you and has a plan for your life, and then getting yourself into the center of that plan.

My older brother was my idol. A computer programmer in his early college years, he wrote a little program for a company called “MasterCard.” After college, working in banking, he became the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of the West. Later, he went to work for the San Francisco 49ers. When my brother died, he had four Super Bowl rings!

Three years ago, He said, “You know, success is not enough.” He began to give his life away—to do what you are doing—serving others in the name of Jesus. He went on short-term trips to help the poorest of the poor. It changed his life. He died a few months ago a very happy man.

If you know of a more important task than helping people know the love of God—helping them discover their purpose and letting them glorify God in serving others—I’d like you to stand up right now and tell us what it is!

Get used

The Bible tells us this: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong on the behalf of those whose hearts are perfect before him” (2 Chron. 16:9 KJV). God is looking for people to use, and if you get useable, he will wear you out!

He will!

As a young man. I got down on my knees and prayed, “God, I want to know you. If you’re real I need to know you. Jesus, if you can give my life purpose, I want it. I don’t understand it all, but come into my life. I’m going to follow your plan and purpose the rest of my life.”

You know what happened when I finished that prayer? Nothing! I didn’t get emotional. There was no thunder, no lightning, there was nothing! Yet, that simple decision was the turning point in my life.

I dare you to pray with me now the most dangerous two-word prayer you can pray! “Use me.” I dare you! If you pray that sincerely, you’re heading for the adventure of your life!

You’ll become the hands and feet of an Army representing the Love of God around the world!

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