John Maxwell: A Leader of Leaders

13 02 2012

This evening I took my wife of nearly twenty-four years out for dinner at our favorite restaurant.  Tomorrow is, after all, Valentine’s Day.  On the docket for tomorrow evening: A concert.

After dinner we stopped by our area Target store to pick up a few things.  Among them was the latest issue of SUCCESS® magazine.  I was excited to see that one of the features on the enclosed CD was an interview with leadership expert John Maxwell.

John has quite a history that has brought him to the place he is now, an internationally respected leader of leaders.  He’s published in excess of sixty works.  Go into any Barnes & Noble bookstore and you’ll find a dozen or so Maxwell titles in the leadership section.

How did John come to the place of influence he now enjoys?

When he was a young pastor in his twenties, he had a vision for building a great church to honor God and help people.  This was the mid ‘70’s.  At that time, John would arrange family vacations to visit cities around the country where the most prominent churches had been established.  John would call ahead and ask to speak with the senior pastor of these churches and say, “I’m a young pastor who wants to build a great church for God.  I will pay you $100.00 if you will give me an hour of your time.”  You have to be the minister of a small church, forty years ago, to appreciate that $100.00 was an enormous amount of money to invest this way.

Invariably, the pastor would accept the offer.  John would go in and meet with the man and when one hour was up, John would promptly rise to leave.  The pastor usually refused the money and always took John out for lunch.  When they returned, John would thank the man, return to his car, place his head on the steering wheel and cry like a baby, praying to God to help him build a great church.  He eventually grew Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego to considerable size and influence before moving on to Atlanta to focus on training leaders for the balance of his life.

Many years ago, I worked alongside a leader who nurtured his own leadership skills by listening to John Maxwell’s leadership recordings, delivered every month from INJOY®, his Atlanta-based leadership training organization.  It was during this period that I began reading and listening to John Maxwell.  I don’t regret it a bit.

Here are some tips on improving your leadership gifts from Maxwell:

  • Never leave home without a book in hand.  John’s father taught him from childhood always to keep a book in the glovebox of his car and would pay his son for books read.  Father knew that readers are leaders and inculcated this into his son.
  • Be willing to pay the cost to learn from the best.  John’s early willingness to sacrifice his hard earned cash to talk to those who’ve produced great works has paid off richly.  Books, seminars and personal meetings will more than return your monetary investment if you act on what you’ve learned.
  • People are your work.  Quoting another leader, John often said, “A leader without followers is merely taking a walk.”  Those directly tutored by John learned very quickly that people are the focus of a leader’s life and work.  Dan Reiland and Dr. Jim Garlow are just two noted leaders thus trained by John.

Maxwell matters.  His books are teeming with practical tips and inspiration that will hold you in good stead and help you move to the next level.  Buy them.

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