One Ordinary Woman

At first, being married to Rick Warren, the senior pastor of the up and coming Saddleback Community Church, was not Kay's idea of happiness. Five years into marriage, Kay was disappointed with life. She had wanted to make a name for herself by being beautiful, smart or talented. Instead, Kay realized she was merely average — ordinary in the areas that mattered to her. Her husband, on the other hand, had ambition, drive, motivation and the ability to birth a church model that would imbed itself in Christian history — all of which left Kay feeling even more mediocre, overlooked and unnoticed.

Like most newlyweds, Kay and Rick argued about money, sex and what other people thought of them. But when Rick faced a physical breakdown requiring hospitalization and Kay neared a nervous breakdown, both came to grips with the gifts God had given them, including each other.

One day while driving, Kay heard the song "Ordinary People" on the radio. The words marked a pivotal point for Kay, God uses ordinary people . . . Just like me and you, who are willing to do as He commands. . . "I knew then that the small, yet important pieces of my personhood were worth accepting because God gave them especially to me," she says. So Kay asked Him to help her accept herself, instead of continually comparing herself to someone else. This has been her greatest milestone, reveling in the truth that God made her uniquely special.

Kay's secret for ministry: nourishing each area of life.

Emotionally: She finds an outlet for expression through piano lessons.

Spiritually: She meets with a small accountability group of church women who are spiritually mature and have known Kay for many years.

Physically: Kay watches her weight and exercises several times a week. She feels it is essential to have endurance.

Mentally: She maintains strict margins for ministry in order to keep herself from shortchanging her top priorities.

"I began to celebrate my ordinariness," Kay says. "I quit whining and wasting emotional energy over what I'm not and never will be." In the process, she discovered marriage was rather enjoyable. Professional counseling, prayer and commitment molded Rick and Kay into an extraordinary team. "I concentrate on the things I love about Rick," she says, "and try to ignore all the things I once thought were wrong with him."

Elizabeth Styffe, a friend of the Warrens, compares them to runners in training. "You see two people who are continually in training to learn how to sprint faster, smoother," she says. "They don't hide that they've tripped in the past or that their muscles ache right now. Yet somehow, you know they're not quitting."

Determined to be practical and intentional about their marriage, the Warrens are at the top of each other's schedules — a difficult task with a church of 15,000. Monday is the Warrens' day off. No phone calls, no e-mail, no interruptions, just time together.

"Our marriage has presented me with countless opportunities to choose whether I was going to be sacrificial, unselfish and loving or demanding, selfish and self-absorbed," Kay says.

As a pastor's wife, Kay looks for ways to serve her husband and make his life easier. She is willing to say yes to the things God has clearly called her to and no to anything that interferes with her calling to love Rick. Kay Warren, as an ordinary woman submitted to an extra-ordinary God, has seen better than ordinary results.

Article copyright © 2003, Sheryl Giesbrecht.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.