Rick Warren Reveals He’s Battling a Painful Autoimmune Disease ’24 Hours a Day’
Former Saddleback Church pastor and author Rick Warren has revealed he suffers from constant pain due to an autoimmune disease.
Warren, 69, disclosed his ailment to Daniel Yang and Ed Stetzer during an appearance on The Stetzer Churchleaders Podcast to discuss his latest book, Created to Dream: The 6 Phases God Uses to Grow Your Faith.
Stetzer began the interview by asking the Purpose Driven Life author about his health. Warren replied, “It’s not good right now. I’ve been in a two-year battle with an autoimmune disease. It’s not life-threatening. It won’t even last. It lasts between three to five years. But without getting into all the details, the bottom line is it leaves my muscles, all my major muscles in pain pretty much 24 hours a day.”
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“It’s tough walking, working, but it hasn’t changed the way that I think,” he said. “And the problem is I sometimes feel like I am this brain on fire and I’m in a wheelchair. I’m not in a wheelchair, but the bottom line is, it’s difficult to move around.”
“When you’re trying to lead a global movement called Finishing The Task, it’s debilitating. But I do believe, as Scripture says, my times are in his hands, and I want to be directly in the center of the will of God,” Warren noted. “I don’t want to get ahead of his will. I want to get behind his will. I want to be at the pace that he wants.”
“And so everything that happens in our lives is Father-filtered. That’s really part of what’s in the book, too, is that nothing can come into my life without the Heavenly Father’s permission,” he continued.
Warren co-founded the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California with his wife Kay in 1980. As CBN News has reported, he stepped down from his role as senior pastor of the now megachurch after preaching 6,500 sermons and studies in 43 years.
Since his departure from Saddleback, Warren has continued to give inspirational messages through his Daily Hope Devotional and his Pastor Rick’s Daily Hope podcast on his website pastorrick.com.
Warren also leads the Finishing the Task Coalition, described on its website as an organization “rallying churches and organizations to collaborate in new ways and work together towards broader cooperative goals in Bible translation and engagement, evangelization and witness empowerment, and church planting.”
As CBN News reported in February, the Southern Baptist Convention ousted the Saddleback Church for having a woman pastor.
The convention’s Executive Committee cited Saddleback’s having “a female teaching pastor functioning in the office of pastor,” an allusion to Stacie Wood, wife of the current lead pastor of Saddleback, Andy Wood.
But the controversy began in 2021, when Warren ordained three women as pastors, prompting discussions within the denomination about possibly expelling the megachurch.
Warren made an emotional speech in June 2022 at the Southern Baptists’ annual convention in Anaheim, standing by his ordination of women. He told delegates who debated the issue, “We have to decide if we will treat each other as allies or adversaries.”
“We love and have always valued our relationship with the SBC and its faithful churches,” Saddleback elders said in a statement after the SBC committee vote in February. “We will engage and respond through the proper channels at the appropriate time in hopes to serve other like-minded Bible-believing SBC churches. Meanwhile, we remain focused on following God’s leadership to love and serve our church family and the communities around our campuses.”
The Executive Committee also voted to oust five other congregations — four over the issue of women as pastors and one over the issue of sexual abuse.