The Purpose Driven Life

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The Purpose Driven Life
AuthorRick Warren
CountryUnited States
SubjectBible study
Publication date
Media typePrint

The Purpose Driven Life is a bible study book written by Christian pastor Rick Warren and published by Zondervan in 2002. 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.


The book is intended to be read as a daily inspiration, with each of the 40 short chapters read on consecutive days.[1][2] 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]

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."


The book topped the Wall Street Journal best seller charts as well as Publishers Weekly charts, with over 30 million copies sold by 2007.[6] The Purpose Driven Life was also on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 90 weeks.[7] By 2019, 32 million copies had been sold in more than 85 languages.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10]


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 and later threw it into dustbin.[11]

The book occupies an important place in the film Captive released in 2015.[12] This fact-based film tells the story of Ashley Smith, a young single mom of Atlanta, being hijacked by Brian Nichols, 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.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15][16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ George Thomas Kurian, James D. Smith III, The Encyclopedia of Christian Literature, Volume 2, Scarecrow Press, USA, 2010, p. 630
  2. ^ Alex Murashko, 10th Anniversary Edition of 'The Purpose Driven Life' Redesigned for Millennials,, USA, June 14, 2012
  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. ^ "Rick Warren: Purpose-Driven Strife". 2007-06-22. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
  7. ^ Donadio, Rachel (2004-11-28). "Faith-Based Publishing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  8. ^ NRB, Rick Warren to Speak at Proclaim 19 Convention in Anaheim,, USA, January 17, 2019
  9. ^ Price, Robert M. The Reason-Driven Life pp. 307-312
  10. ^ Harris, Jason. InFocus. "The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
  11. ^ Sun, Baltimore. "Ray Lewis tweets strange thing about Michael Phelps' medal count, deletes it". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  12. ^ JOE MCGOVERN, 'Captive': EW review,, USA, September 22, 2015
  13. ^ "Ex-hostage: 'I wanted to gain his trust'". CNN. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  14. ^ Saddleback Church (2012-10-15), Day 2 - What On Earth Am I Here For Pt. 1, retrieved 2018-10-16
  15. ^ "Purpose Driven Life sales pick up pace in Upstate". Herald-Journal. Mar 17, 2005. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  16. ^ "Rick Warren: The Purpose-Driven Pastor". NPR. Retrieved 1 December 2012.


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