Fact file for Robert A Schuller:
– Pastor of Crystal Cathedral Ministries in California
– 54 years old
– Married to Donna for 24 years with 4 adult children
– He has been in ministry since 1976
– Has authored 13 books
– He has many favourite Scriptures and multiple mentors in life
– Loves to read and has about 5 different books on his bedside table covering topics such as
history, psychology, governance and leadership.
Fact file for Donna Schuller:
– Her first job was giftwrapping clothes at a boutique
– Loves to be outdoors and enjoys walking on the beach and playing golf
– She is inspired by many people, mostly ordinary men and women who, through faith in God,
overcome life’s obstacles with joy
– Is involved in various projects and has worked with prison ministries, women’s clinics and
– She too loves reading and can’t resist an historical novel.
Robert you’re an author, preacher, pastor and father. How do you fulfil all these demanding roles?
I could not fulfil any of these roles if I wasn’t being filled by God first. If we are empty, we will have nothing to give away! I also could not do what God has called me to do without a great team. The value of any institution is its staff. Without support from competent members, I would never get everything done! I also believe its important to make space in one’s diary for quiet time. This is the time I spend alone and with Donna. We like to relax and take at least one day a week to spend together golfing, talking walking on the beach. Because we are ‘empty nesters’, we often travel and enjoy quality time with our children – when they grace us with their presence!
In 2006 you succeeded your father as senior pastor of the ministry. Was this a daunting decision?
Definitely! It was and still is very challenging. No ministry is free from struggle. We have a responsibility to people and the Kingdom. We also have to operate prudently by keeping a close eye on budgets and the costs of spreading the Great Commission.
Part of my mission has also been to take the ministry into a new era. My father was a pioneer and visionary. When he started the church, the automobile had just been launched. So, accordingly he started the church on the premises of a drive-in. When television arrived (albeit in black and white), my dad started our TV ministry – seeing it as a way to engage the popular culture of that time.
With the internet boom, we have seen people, relationships, church and life as we know it, changed to some extent. My goal is to see Crystal Cathedral Ministries reaching new people all around the globe through technology and new media.
You recently wrote a book called ‘Walking in Your Own Shoes’. Did you write this from experience?
Absolutely! We all have a unique destiny carved out for us by God. Each person on this planet is here for a reason – God doesn’t make mistakes. He created you for great things. Some of us discover early on what we are meant to do, while others need help recognising their talents and specific gifts. This book was written to encourage and motivate people to walk the path God has given them without fear of failure. With Christ for you, who can be against you!
You broadcast the ‘Hour of Power’ TV show to over 20 million people worldwide. Why is this part of your ministry so impactful?
There are many people who will never set foot in a church for various reasons, even though some of them are looking for God. TV provides a safe space for them to see what goes on in a church (via a broadcast) and to hear the Word in a non-threatening environment. TV is also able to reach millions more people through the click of a button. We get hundreds of testimonies from people all over the world telling us how they have come to know Jesus through our TV show, or been inspired to live fuller lives for God. We have even had people join our church from first viewing us on TV. With our vision for growing the ministry over the internet, we anticipate the impact to overshadow what ‘Hour of Power’ is currently achieving. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes, but the way we present the message should be relevant to the cultural context. I encourage pastors and leaders to embrace technology and change rather than shy away from it.
Your show often features prominent guests and Christian leaders. How do you choose who to profile?
This is not an easy task! We sift through hundreds of recommendations, requests and possibilities, carefully selecting and praying over them. Eventually we choose 32 for the year and trust God with our decision. Because television is such a powerful medium, one has to be careful about who you place on this platform. Being an ambassador of Christ in the media is a weighty responsibility. Especially if you are a teacher of the Word. I never take this privilege lightly and ensure my guests do not either.
The messages you preach are known to be positive and inspiring. Is there a reason you focus on these types of sermons?
When Christ comes into your life, He fills you with light, love and untold joy. It is only natural then to want to share this joy and tell of all the Lord has done. We are constantly surrounded by bad news. One only has to pick up the Sunday paper to get a dose of pessimism. People need messages of hope, faith and encouragement. Paul called us to edify and exhort one another – I would be failing in my role as a pastor if I did not do the same.
Some people who do not understand your ministry have criticised it for putting out ‘shallow’ messages and not dealing with topics such as sin or hell. What are your thoughts on this?
I’m sure many of these critics have never been to my church or sat under our ministry. If they have, they would know that we preach a balanced message covering various topics including sin and hell. Just this last Sunday I spoke on sin and how we are to deal with it. Where I differ from many other preachers about teaching on sin is that (within the context of society today) I speak more on the sins of omission (what you don’t do – such as caring for the poor) rather than the sins of commission (what you do wrong – such as stealing from your neighbour). People know the 10 Commandments, but this is just the beginning!
What encouragement do you have for believers worldwide who are worried about perilous economic and political conditions?
“Do not fear for the Lord your God is with you. He shall never leave nor forsake you!” Josh 1:69; Heb 3:11. Too many people project their fears and failings on to Jesus. They walk around without truly knowing who God is and what He has done for them. We serve a victorious King! Trust in the Lord; He will make your paths straight.
Donna is it difficult to share your husband with thousands of people every week?
Absolutely not! Robert has always had his priorities in order. I’ve never felt like the church comes between us or our family. Robert knows how to delegate; he is a team player and empowers the people around him to get on with what they need to do. Unlike many pastors, he doesn’t micromanage – which gives us freedom to enjoy our time together and protect ourselves from spiritual burn-out. I have always felt very safe in our relationship and that has enabled both of us to keep serving God in spite of life’s challenges.
As you have grown older and wiser, what life lessons have you learnt?
The biggest thing I have learnt so far in life is to trust God, to let Him be Lord in your life and to make time to appreciate all that He has given you. Since turning 50 two years ago, I have learnt not to sweat the small stuff. Prioritising is key for a successful, happy life. Many of the things that we as women worry about, are so unnecessary. We need to find our identity and value in Christ and what He has done for us on the Cross. I have definitely matured mentally and emotionally and feel like I am in a place in my walk with God where I am fulfilled and able to share what God has done for me with many other women who are still looking for Him.
Are you involved in the ministry at all?
Yes. I love working with my husband and sharing my skills and talents with the Body of Christ. We have all been given gifts from God that we must share with others as we are all necessary in the Kingdom of God. Over the years I have been involved with several projects within our church and outside of our ministry. I love connecting people, projects and causes and use my work as a platform to interact with many non-believers (who are most surprised when they meet ‘a pastor’s wife’ in real life!). I often find myself involved in various organisations and charities at any given time.
I am quite an out-doorsy person, (my friends describe me as hyperactive!) so you won’t find me at the church desk most days, though I often go into the office to write notes of encouragement to the many wonderful people who partner with us and approach our ministry for prayer. I am passionate about people and caring for God’s sheep and one of my favourite things to do is greet people at the door before and after church on a Sunday. As leaders, we have to be real with others and lay ourselves down for God’s plans.
What is your advice to women battling to juggle the demands of work/church/family/faith and busy husbands?
Figure out what is important to you, protect your time with God and with your family. Treasure your friends and life’s special moments and do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow brings its own concerns (as Jesus said).
You have to be in good standing with God before anything else will be right in your life. Becoming a Christian and following Jesus does not guarantee you a trouble-free life, but it promises eternal happiness. If there are things or people holding you back and dragging you down in your walk with God or just in general, recognise this and take the necessary steps to change. If you don’t like your job, change it! I have met many people (especially women) who are unhappy in their current employment, but are too scared to change jobs because they don’t believe they are skilled to do anything else. This is a lie!
God has given you everything you need to be blessed and to be a blessing. He has given you His wisdom, His power, His Spirit and His life. Find your passion in life and follow it. Don’t let fear hold you back. God loves you and He wants the best for you always! Also, I would like to encourage moms and dads to take time now to enjoy your children. Time flies and before you know it, your babies are out of their strollers and starting university! Surround yourself with positive people and messages of hope. Life is hard enough as it is, so don’t let negativity bog you down. Read God’s Word and find out what He has to say to you.