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The Purpose Driven Life (2002) is a devotional book written by Christian author Rick Warren and published by Zondervan. The book has been on the New York Times Best Seller list for advice books for one of the longest periods in history, while also topping the Wall Street Journal best seller charts as well as Publishers Weekly charts with over 30 million copies sold by 2007.
The book offers readers a 40-day personal spiritual journey, and presents what Warren says are God's five purposes for human life on Earth and describes itself as "a blueprint for Christian living in the 21st Century ... using about 350 references to the Bible, maybe this amounts to over 1200 Biblical verses and quotes to challenge the conventional definitions of Christian Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, Christian Ministry and Evangelism."
The book is intended to be read as a daily inspiration, with each of the 40 short chapters read on consecutive days. Each chapter contains a personal application section at the end with a "point to ponder," a verse to remember, and a question to consider over the course of that day. Rick Warren described his book as an "anti-self-help book." The first sentence of the book reads, "It's not about you," and the remainder of the chapter goes on to explain how the quest for personal fulfillment, satisfaction, and meaning can only be found in understanding and doing what God placed you on Earth to do. The book's 40 chapters are divided into six major sections, with the following titles:
A May 2005 survey of American pastors and ministers conducted by George Barna asked Christian leaders to identify what books were the most influential on their lives and ministries. The Purpose Driven Life was the most frequent response. The Purpose Driven Church, Warren's previous book, was the second most frequent response. Billy Graham described the book as one that would "guide you to greatness—through living the Great Commandment and the Great Commission of Jesus."
In March 2005 Brian Nichols, who was wanted for the shooting of four people in Atlanta, held Ashley Smith hostage in her apartment for seven hours. Smith reported to news outlets that during this time she read chapter 32 of The Purpose Driven Life to Nichols, which she credited as influencing his decision to release her from captivity. Smith later admitted that she had also given Nichols crystal methamphetamine to pacify him. Sales of The Purpose Driven Life rose greatly, with the book becoming Amazon's second best selling book after news of Smith's captivity and release was announced.
Smith later released a book through HarperCollins Publishers about her life and encounter with Nichols entitled Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero. In the book Smith discussed her drug addiction, writing that the hostage ordeal made her aware that she was an addict.