Rick and Kay Warren on Mental Illness

Rick Warren returned to the pulpit at Saddleback Church on July 27th-28th for the first time since the tragic suicide of his son, Matthew, accompanied by his wife, Kay.

This is some of the best teaching I’ve ever heard explaining mental illness from a Christian perspective. The video is definitely worth a look…when you click on the picture below, you’ll be taken to the Saddleback Church website. If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, start at around the 73 minute mark.

Rick Warren Sermon

Thanks to Amy Kendall, who serves as Disabilities Ministry coordinator at Saddleback, I was able to get a copy of the text of Rick and Kay’s message. Here’s my favorite excerpt-one in which Rick speaks about mental illness…

Many of you, and I mean many of you, are struggling with your thoughts. And actually your thoughts torture you. You don’t tell anybody about it but it bothers you. Your thoughts torture you with depression or your thoughts torture you with anxiety. Or your thoughts torture you with self loathing. Or shame.

Some of you are tortured with blame and resentment. And some of you are tortured with fear and worry. And some of you are tortured with compulsions and attractions and addictions. And some of you are tortured with anger and some of you just feel out of place. I’m the odd person out. I don’t fit. I’m not in the in crowd. I’m on the edge. I just feel like the square in a round world.

You have these thoughts and you can’t get them out of your mind. You can’t make your mind mind.

Let me just say this to you as somebody who loves you. You’re not going crazy. If you’re afraid that you’re going crazy – I’m afraid that I’m losing my mind. Let me tell you this: People who are insane aren’t afraid of losing their mind. The fact that you’re afraid means you’re not losing your mind. So take a deep breath and let that one out. People who are insane don’t worry about it. The fact that you’re worried means you’re rational.

So you’re not going crazy but you do need help with your thought life.

The second thing I want to say to you is this: you’re not alone. There are three thousand people in this room here tonight. If this is an average like it is here in America, six hundred of you are struggling with some kind of mental illness. Six hundred.

Sixty million Americans struggle with some kind of mental illness. Four hundred million worldwide. That would be larger than the United States if it were a nation.

And I want to just say this: you may have a chemical imbalance in your body that messes with your mind. But your chemistry is not your character. And your illness is not your identity. And God’s grace doesn’t just cover our genetics, our genes and genetics. It covers our guilt and everything else.

And God’s mercy doesn’t just cover the things we do wrong. It covers our DNA. And we want you here at Saddleback Church. It is not a sin to be sick. And there’s no shame in taking meds. There’s no shame in seeing a psychiatrist. If my back is broken I go to a back doctor. If my heart doesn’t work right I go to a heart doctor. If my kidney stops working I go to a kidney doctor. If my brain isn’t functioning right I go to a brain doctor. There’s no shame in that.

Why is it that any other organ in your body cannot work and there’s no stigma attached to it? If my spleen stops working there’s no shame… if my pancreas stops working… if I have diabetes there’s no shame, there’s no stigma on that. But if my brain stops working why am I supposed to keep quiet and not talk about it and be ashamed of it? That’s just wrong.

Ten years ago God called Kay and then called me and then called many of you at Saddleback to remove the stigma of HIV and AIDS. It’s not a sin to be sick. And now ten years later God is calling us as a church to remove the stigma of mental illness. And we’re going to do that. If you’re struggling with any kind of mental torture we want you here. Cause we’re all a little crazy here.

If you’re perfect we don’t want you in this church. Go somewhere else. And by the way if you ever find a perfect church, please don’t join it because then it won’t be perfect any more. Once you join.

At Saddleback Church we take this so seriously we have literally hundreds and hundreds of support groups and thousands and thousands of people in those support groups. In fact in all of our small groups we have over 32,000 people in seven thousand small groups from Santa Monica to Carlsbad.

In front of you is a card. I want you to pull this out. It says “Saddleback Cares.” If you’re on the second row hand one to the person in front of you. I want you to take two of these with you as you go. Two of these with you – one for you and one for you to give away to somebody else who you know in pain.

Here’s just a list of some of the support groups that we have. Support groups for ADD; for Alzheimer’s; for Asperger’s; for bipolar; for breast cancer; cancer; chronic pain; depression; divorce care; eating disorders; empty arms – that’s people who have miscarried; people who have family, loved ones, in prison; grief support; hepatitis; infertility; kidney disease; living with AIDS; Parkinson’s; on and on and on. There’s almost no problem you could name we don’t have a small group for. You can go out on the patio and get information after the service.

Take this with you. Take one and give one to a friend.

The third group I want to talk to; those of you who are in families and you have a family member like the Warren family did who is seriously mentally ill. Maybe it’s your dad. Maybe it’s your mom, your husband, your wife, your brother, your sister, a child. We want you in Saddleback Church. This is your church. And we will support you and we will help you and we will work on the pain you’re going through together. You should not suffer in silence. We are here to help your family but you’ve got to speak up. And you’ve got to let us know about the pain. As I said we want to remove that stigma together.

God never wastes a hurt. I have no doubt that God is going to use the hurt that Rick and Kay Warren experienced to help countless families impacted by mental illness to experience the love of Christ.

Updated August 10, 2013


600817_10200479396001791_905419060_nConfused about all the changes in diagnostic terminology for kids with mental heath disorders? Key Ministry has a resource page summarizing our recent blog series examining the impact of the DSM-5 on kids. Click this link for summary articles describing the changes in diagnostic criteria for conditions common among children and teens, along with links to other helpful resources!

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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1 Response to Rick and Kay Warren on Mental Illness

  1. Ann Holmes says:

    Thanks, Steve, for making this available! It is excellent! I had listened but am so happy to have the text in a document.


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