Reflecting on Rick Warren’s Poorly Worded Tweet – We Need to Give Grace to These Men and Women When They Fail

So I’m a little late to this party but I figure so are some of you as well so here you go.
On Wednesday, Rick Warren made this tweet:


Now, i actually respect a great deal about Rick Warren. I admire him, his wife Kay, and the Saddleback ministry on a number of levels. Like most, I already knew he was not perfect so I’m ok with a lot of what he says because really, I don’t really care enough to figure out what he’s trying to really say and I figure he’s a smart enough and godly enough guy – I’m sure between him and the Lord, they’ll figure it out.

To his credit, the man tweets a lot. Supposedly it’s really him, he has said so on several occasions and I believe it.

When I saw this, my reaction was … ughh. Now who am I to question Rick Warren’s motives? Maybe the criticisms and pressures are catching up with him and something was on his mind and this was the reaction. Aside from a few thoughts and a joke or two that will not make it online, I have no idea.

But here’s the thing – the Church has to start responding in better ways to these moments, including when our higher profile leaders/pastors/personalities make a mistake. On the blogosphere and twitterverse, many were merciless, absolute merciless. Others responded with gentle push-back fitting for Christians, particularly younger brothers in the Lord (as they make up quite a bit of the Twitter population, you know). Frankly I was blessed by that.

We need to give grace to these men and women when they fail. We can’t stand there and say things like, “I knew he was an arrogant tv preacher guy only interested in selling book and creating his own kingdom”. I didn’t actually quote any comment exactly, but that’s the gist of it. We also need to remember that we fail regularly. The difference is very few people notice and fewer actually care.

I am all for accountability but we need to be really careful what and who we condemn and dismiss. It’s very antithetical to being the loving followers that Jesus has called us to be.


  1. Steve Davis says:

    I’ve heard/read Rick say similar things quite a few times, unfortunately, Twitter takes away the context. It’s usually stated as a challenge/response to people who say that Saddleback isn’t producing mature disciples.

  2. Dave Swenson says:

    Perhaps a touch or arrogance, but also a challenge to his congregation as well? Holding them to a higher standard? I’m not sure how to interpret Pastor Warren’s remarks as I don’t follow him on Twitter. His books and newsletters are inspiring and inspired.

  3. I appreciate your gentle remonstration to let grace, rather than vitriol, be our first response when high-profile leaders of the faith make us cringe by clumsy speech.

    I’m no Warren disciple, and I’ve run the gamut of opinion from cynical dismissal to begrudging respect. Without having read anything about this particular tweet prior to your post, it’s no stretch to imagine the public reaction. But honestly, my first thought was a pastor who is bursting with pride – without necessarily taking credit for – the maturity of his flock. Would such a statement be so outrageous in that context? I mean, it could have been less a real “challenge” or disparagement of other churches than a hyperbolic, but no less sincere and even legitimate, appraisal of his own church’s spiritual heartbeat. *shrug.* It’s a theory, but not an unreasonable one, I think. :)

  4. Matt Salvesen says:

    What were some of the gentle pushes back?

  5. @Steve, figures you’d say that :-) I know what you mean though. It’s a different context when you’re constantly critiqued on the level he and Saddleback are. But still …

    @Dave are you twitter? I’m going to have to find you.

    @Lauren – is this the Lauren that I think it is? Great thoughts – Good to see you again.

    @Matt – there were a couple of gracious ones. One of my friends tweeted back, “Hey Pastor, not sure I understand, I thought we were building the same Kingdom.”

    Thanks for reading!

  6. I think your response in this post is right on, bro.

  7. Thanks Jason, I appreciate that coming from you.

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