Rick Warren, one of America’s most influential pastors and the author of the smash best seller The Purpose Driven Life, delivers a life-changing message on the connection between getting healthy and doing good. He speaks exclusively in this Sunday’s Parade, before the publication of his new book, The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life. (The title refers to the prophet who championed healthy eating.)
Four years ago, Pastor Rick Warren had an epiphany. Midway through a mass baptism ceremony, lowering congregants into a pool of water and lifting them out again, he realized: Man, we’re all fat. Soon after, he and more than half of his 22,000-strong congregation began a weight-loss journey. A year after starting the plan, devised with the help of three experts including Dr. Mehmet Oz, they had collectively dropped 250,000 pounds.
Read highlights from the exclusive interview below, and be sure to check out this weekend’s issue of Parade for the full story.
On his health epiphany.
“It wasn’t a very spiritual thought. My second thought was, ‘I’m fat, too, and I’m a terrible example.’”
On what led him to start a health movement through his church.
“I grew up in a churchgoing family, went to a Christian college, two seminaries. Yet I had never heard a single sermon on the importance of staying fit. So I started studying the Bible. … One of the teachings is that God made my body; it is a gift. I’m supposed to take good care of it.”
On the connection between wellness and spirituality.
“You can’t love if you don’t have the energy to love. … I’m interested in helping my people be well so they can make a difference.”
On how the loss of his son Matthew last spring led to a setback in his personal health goals.
“When Matthew died my wife and I went through a period of four months of grief. I didn’t want to exercise. … The church would bring us all kinds of great food … and I started adding back some of the weight I’d lost. My reaction was to be open about it. … That actually encourages people. They don’t want to hear about the guy who lost the weight and kept if off forever.”
On how he and his wife are approaching the holidays, the first without their son.
“Every holiday when you’ve lost a loved one is going to be painful, particularly the first year. But we have the Lord; we have our church family; we have each other. The other thing is, we’re not hiding our grief. We’re walking through it. You can’t get over grief; you get through it. I have cried every day since Matthew died. That’s not a bad thing. Tears are a sign of love, not weakness.”
On putting the focus on giving, not getting, this holiday season.
“I say you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. If you want to become a loving person, you have to learn to give. You spell love G-I-V-E.”