The Purpose Driven Life

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The Purpose Driven Life book cover

The Purpose Driven Life (2002) is a devotional book written by Christian pastor Rick Warren and published by Zondervan. The book topped the Wall Street Journal best seller charts as well as Publishers Weekly charts, with over 30 million copies sold by 2007.[1] The Purpose Driven Life was also on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 90 weeks.[2]

The book offers readers a 40-day personal spiritual journey and presents what Warren says are God's five purposes for human life on Earth and describes itself as "a blueprint for Christian living in the 21st Century [...] using about 350 references to the Bible, maybe this amounts to over 1200 Biblical verses and quotes to challenge the conventional definitions of Christian Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Christian Ministry and Evangelism."


The Purpose Driven Life has sold 60 million copies.


The book is intended to be read as a daily inspiration, with each of the 40 short chapters read on consecutive days. Each chapter contains a personal application section at the end with a "point to ponder," a verse to remember, and a question to consider over the course of that day. Rick Warren described his book as an "anti-self-help book." The first sentence of the book reads, "It's not about you,"[3] and the remainder of the chapter goes on to explain how the quest for personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and meaning can only be found in understanding and doing what God placed you on Earth to do.[4] The book's 40 chapters are divided into six major sections, with the following titles:[5]

  • What on Earth Am I Here For?
  • Purpose #1: You Were Planned for God's Pleasure (Worship)
  • Purpose #2: You Were Formed for God's Family (Fellowship)
  • Purpose #3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ (Discipleship)
  • Purpose #4: You Were Shaped for Serving God (Ministry)
  • Purpose #5: You Were Made for a Mission (Mission)

In later versions of the book, 2 additional chapters were added about the 2 biggest reasons why Christians don't live purpose driven lives, envy and "people pleasing."


A May 2005 survey of American pastors and ministers conducted by George Barna asked Christian leaders to identify what books were the most influential on their lives and ministries. The Purpose Driven Life was the most frequent response. The Purpose Driven Church, written prior to The Purpose Driven Life, was the second most frequent response. Billy Graham described the book as one that would "guide you to greatness—through living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus." NFL legend Ray Lewis gave the book to 23 time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps when he went to rehab. Phelps read the book daily while in rehab.[6]


Biblical scholar Robert M. Price criticized Warren for applying eisegesis, which includes quoting various translations of the Bible and selectively choosing whichever paraphrase or translation supports his theses.[7] Jason Harris criticized the book for providing the scripture citations only in end notes, making it harder for readers to know the context of the passages it cites.[8]

Ashley Smith[edit]

In March 2005 Brian Nichols, who was wanted for the shooting of four people in Atlanta, held Ashley Smith hostage in her apartment for seven hours. Smith reported to news outlets that during this time she read chapter 32 of The Purpose Driven Life to Nichols, which she credited as influencing his decision to release her from captivity.[9] In 2012, Smith also stated that she had been struggling with drug addiction at the time, and she gave Nichols drugs to calm him down. Smith had to decide whether to do the drugs with Nichols. Smith chose not to, and she hasn't touched drugs since.[10] Sales of The Purpose Driven Life rose greatly, with the book becoming Amazon's second-best-selling book after news of Smith's captivity and release was announced.[11][12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rick Warren: Purpose-Driven Strife". 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  2. ^ Donadio, Rachel (2004-11-28). "Faith-Based Publishing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  3. ^ Warren, Rick, The Purpose Driven Life, 2002, p17
  4. ^ Warren, Rick, The Purpose Driven Life, 2002, p25
  5. ^ Warren, Rick, The Purpose Driven Life, 2002, Table of Contents
  6. ^ Sun, Baltimore. "Ray Lewis tweets strange thing about Michael Phelps' medal count, deletes it". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  7. ^ Price, Robert M. The Reason-Driven Life pp. 307-312
  8. ^ Harris, Jason. InFocus. "The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
  9. ^ "Ex-hostage: 'I wanted to gain his trust'". CNN. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  10. ^ Saddleback Church (2012-10-15), Day 2 - What On Earth Am I Here For Pt. 1, retrieved 2018-10-16
  11. ^ "Purpose Driven Life sales pick up pace in Upstate". Herald-Journal. Mar 17, 2005. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  12. ^ "Rick Warren: The Purpose-Driven Pastor". NPR. Retrieved 1 December 2012.


  • Warren, Rick (2002). The Purpose Driven Life. Michigan: Zondervan.