My friend Susan Baugh invited me to hear Kay Warren speak at Saddleback Church’s conference for pastors. We’re both pastors’ wives and women in ministry and Kay was sharing on her book that will be released in one year called Sacred Privilege.

Kay has 40 years as a pastor’s wife, married to Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA. She also has a ministry of her own as an author, speaker, and leader.

She opened by saying, “A conference can change your life.”

She told the story that she and Rick were both PK’s with fathers who were pastors and as young marrieds when he was in seminary their dream was to become missionaries in Japan. Rick had signed them up to go to Dr. Robert Schuller’s “Institute for Successful Church Leadership” at the Crystal Cathedral and she didn’t want to go. On the whole drive from Texas to Southern California she was upset at him!

But at that conference Arvella Schuller gave a talk to pastors’ wives that Kay attended with many other young pastors’ wives. That was almost 40 years ago, but Kay still has the notes! She read over them to prepare for her talk on “Sacred Privilege.”

Ike and Margueerite Eichenberger (1)A Passion to Minister to Ministers Bears Much Fruit!

The pastors’ conference with Bob and Arvella Schuller was such an inspiration to Rick and Kay that the whole way home on their long drive back to Texas they talked about all they had learned and shared their enthusiasm and ideas for planting a church in South Orange County. Today Saddleback is one of the largest and most influential churches in the world!

My Grandpa was the one that led that conference! For many years he led Dr. Schuller’s Institute for Successful Church Leadership that hosted Rick and Kay Warren and tens of thousands of other pastors from around the world at that time.

I saw Nanny and Papa’s enthusiasm and passion to minister to ministers. They were hospitable to young pastors and leaders who were not known at the time. They didn’t know that Bill Hybels and Rick Warren would go on to become world leaders for Christ!

Q & A With Kay Warren

At her Sacred Privilege seminar Kay invited the pastors (men and women in ministry) and pastors’ wives to ask their questions.

How did you protect your kids from leaving the church?

Kay felt that letting their children contribute their gifts to the church really helped them have a positive attitude.

Her son was in the audience and he chimed in, “Mom, can I answer this one? Can I share?” She smiled yes.

“It was the same Rick and Kay Warren at home as at church,” he said. “What we got at church is what we got at home — they were the same people with the same genuine faith.” Then he laughed, “Sometimes I didn’t like them in either place!”

How did your marriage survive Matthew’s suicide?

She credits Rick. She says he looked her in the eye and said, “We’re going to grieve together. I’m going to share my emotions and I want to hear yours. I’m not going to isolate from you.”

He canceled things. He stopped working to be present to his grief and to her. He didn’t just avoid the grief and work. They went to counseling together. They also went to counseling separately.

Can pastors have friends in their church?

Kay’s parents were pastors and didn’t think they should be friends with people in the church. They were kind and warm-hearted. She saw their loneliness and didn’t think that was good.

“It’s important to have friends in your church,” Kay said. “But you have to be careful and make wise choices.” She explained that pastors and their spouses need friends who

  • Are not new Christians
  • Can handle seeing your sin without judging you
  • Won’t spread around the church the things you share (will keep confidentiality)
  • Don’t need you to always sit by them in church or at events
  • Don’t need you to always acknowledge them
  • Don’t “name drop”
Do you ever disagree with Rick or tell him he’s making a mistake?

When answering this question Kay put up both hands and exclaimed, “Absolutely, I do!”

“But not in public,” she elaborated. “When I disagree I do it in private. I don’t walk back stage after a sermon and say, ‘Well, that was a dud!’ I do it in when we’re alone.

“Well, occasionally I need to say something with a group of elders or leaders in the church. They don’t always listen to me and I’m not always right. Sometimes they come back to me and say I was right and sometimes I go back to them and say they were right.”

She summarized that if she disagrees with Rick she does it carefully, privately, respectfully, and prayerfully.

How do you pray for Rick?

She prays Scripture for him. The Word of God is a huge help for guiding our intercessions.

How do you deal with spiritual warfare?

Kay answered, “Spiritual warfare is real. I have three enemies who opposes me every day: Satan, my sins, and other people’s sins. In every trial or hardship there are these three layers for you too.”

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