The Man With The Purpose

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Mindful of the checkered history of high-profile evangelists, Warren and his wife seem determined to be the anti — Jim and Tammy Faye. "I want to live above reproach," says the man whose role model is Billy Graham, explaining why he avoids being alone with women other than his wife. The Warrens, who have three grown children, live comfortably but relatively modestly in a $360,000 tract home they bought two years ago, and the reverend drives a Ford SUV. In 2003, with royalties from the Purpose-Driven product line pouring in, Warren stopped taking his $110,000 annual salary from Saddleback and refunded all the money the church had paid him over the years. He says he keeps only 10% of the book royalties and gives the rest away to Saddleback and the charitable foundation he and Kay established to supplement the church's mission projects, which include fighting poverty, illiteracy, and disease — especially AIDS — here and abroad.

Progress on his international initiatives has been slowed, first by his wife's struggle with breast cancer late last year and then by his own surgery in January to remove a benign abdominal cyst. Warren had not preached since his wife began treatment last November, turning his duties over to his staff of ministers. When her chemo-therapy was completed, he returned to the pulpit late last month and moved forward on his global mission with renewed purpose. He wants each of Saddleback's 2,000 small groups to adopt a village in a developing country, make mission trips there and send educational and medical supplies, along with spiritual and financial support, to its residents. Eventually, Warren hopes to expand the program to the more than 10,000 other Purpose-Driven churches around the nation. "I think God gets the most glory when you tackle the biggest problems," says Warren, "so I've decided to use my influence to help the poor and oppressed, and I'll spend the rest of my life doing that." He is a man who, having discovered a purpose to his life, has made a success out of giving one to thousands of others.

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