59 pages 1 hour read

Rick Warren

The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2002

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Summary and Study Guide


The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren, an American evangelical Christian pastor and author, is a work of Christian literature that offers guidance by means of a 40-day personal, spiritual journey. Warren brings his experience in spiritual leadership to this text, exploring what he identifies as God’s five purposes for human life on Earth. This framework seeks to serve as a blueprint for Christian living in the modern day. Categorized within the Christian self-help genre, it tackles the themes of The Purpose of Life as God-Centered Service, Spiritual Growth and Character Development, and Finding Community and Belonging. The book, originally published in 2002, includes elements of self-discovery, spiritual growth, belonging, and the pursuit of a purposeful life as guided by Christian principles. Its approach to these topics has earned it a spot as a #1 New York Times bestseller, reflecting its widespread acceptance and influence in the Christian community.

This guide references the 2012 Zondervan Kindle edition.

Content Warning: This book’s Christian faith-based approach to life’s purpose and meaning is a central aspect that shapes its narrative and advice and may contradict or alienate readers of other religions or belief systems.


Warren introduces the book as a 40-day, spiritual journey toward a purpose-filled, Christian life. The book is divided into days, and the reader is encouraged to participate and follow along. In Part 1, Warren addresses the age-old question of life’s purpose and says that each person was individually created by God with intent. In this way, everyone is part of God’s plan regardless of their circumstances and what they do with their time on Earth. Warren indicates that life lacks meaning and direction if it is not dedicated to God. This is because in the Christian faith, life on Earth is temporary before the inevitable and eternal afterlife. Warren describes life as a “test” or “temporary assignment” meant to give humans a chance to follow the intended and correct path toward Godliness.

Part 2 focuses on God’s feelings toward humankind, first stating that God created people for his enjoyment and delight. God, in response to what happens on Earth, experiences a range of emotions, according to Warren. In this way, it is important to live life with pleasing God in mind and to avoid disappointing him. The term “worship” is addressed, and Warren clarifies that worship can be, but isn’t always, singing hymns or going to church. Worship is instead any God-driven, purposeful task or pleasing God intentionally. It is then suggested that God wants a close friendship with each person and that people are responsible for nurturing and growing that relationship. Warren also addresses the times when God seems absent from the world and its events, but he insists that God is always present and aware and that everything is part of a greater plan.

Part 3 states that God intends for his followers to be part of an eternal family. For one to do this in earnest, Warren says that one must be baptized. Being baptized is a show of love and devotion to God. God wants his family to be known for love, and Warren says that God himself is an embodiment of love. It is also important to have a connection to a local church and thus a local Christian community, or fellowship, and to maintain a positive and cohesive congregation.

Part 4 begins by addressing humankind’s need to be like Christ and how community and fellowship can help inspire this process. Temptation is an intentional challenge for people to overcome and show their Godliness. Warren discourages people from being overly self-confident or self-interested. Instead, people should always be aware of their individual role in God’s larger plan and instead work to please God and stop self-serving.

Part 5 addresses God’s call to action, or the process of spreading Christianity and positivity to the world around oneself. The acronym “SHAPE” is introduced and means that God encourages unique talents and hobbies and praises everyone’s individuality. It is important for the reader to use their unique talents to serve God whenever possible. The final part encourages readers to continue their spiritual journey, and it states that a life without Godliness is a waste of God’s intent. In summary of the other parts, Warren again emphasizes the need to live with purpose and with God in mind.

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