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Next to Billy Graham, Rick Warren and Joel Osteen are probably to most recognizable ministers in America. Warren is the author of the top selling hardcover book of all time, The Purpose Driven Life. It sold 30 million copies.

Speaking about his "purpose driven" success, in 2005 Warren told U.S. News and World Report, "It brought in a ton of money. The first thing we decided was that we wouldn't let it change our lifestyle one bit." Even after achieving notoriety and great prosperity, Warren and his family continued to live in the same home and drive the same vehicle. He said, "Next, I stopped taking a salary from the church. Then I added up all the church had paid me in the previous 25 years and I gave it back." Living on only 10% of their income, he and his wife began to give away the rest in a type of "reverse tithing" principle.

Warren told of a reporter who asked him gleefully how much money he had. This was his first interview after having returned to the church all the money they had paid him for over 25-years. He said the reporter was visibly disappointed to learn that the Warren’s had returned all their salary, lived off 10% of their income, distributed the 90% to three different ministries, and continued to live in the same house and drive the same cars. The reporter had nowhere to go to question Warren’s integrity concerning finances.

Why would he do this? J.K. Rowling, the richest woman in England and author of the Harry Potter book series, has not done this. I’m not saying she’s done anything wrong. Al Gore was worth $5 million when he lost the presidency to George Bush. I read it is estimated that he is now worth nearly $100 million due to his campaign against global warming. He hasn’t done for his cause what Warren has done. Why has Rick Warren made such an unusual decision? Like Paul that’s how much he values the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the spreading of the gospel and our own financial gain are in competition with one another, which one wins? Which one is most important to you? What is most important to you, the spreading of the gospel in Norman or your own standard of living? Is your standard of living sustained at the expense of the gospel or is the gospel sustained at the expense of your lifestyle? Which one comes first, your lifestyle or the gospel?

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