Do you ever wish that your life was a great story that would be told for years to come? John C. Maxwell addresses just that issue in his book Intentional Living. Maxwell is a believer, and if you read this book from that perspective it certainly has applications to ministry. His style of writing is also such that someone who didn’t share Maxwell’s convictions about Jesus would still glean information from this book.

john maxwell intentional living

Summary of John Maxwell’s Intentional Living

First, Maxwell begins by describing lives that are great stories, and examining why they are great stories. Second, Maxwell points out why good intentions are not enough. He writes, “An unintentional life accepts everything and does nothing. An intentional life embraces only things that will add to the mission of significance” (35). Third, John Maxwell’s Intentional Living describes how leaders should start small and believe big. At this point he transitions to addressing those who truly want to make a difference with their life. Fourth, He says that leaders must search to find their “why.” What is that reason that motivates you? Maxwell writes, “If the why comes before the way, your ability to make a difference will come more quickly and immediately be more effective” (80). Fifth, He talks about putting others first. At this chapter Maxwell transitions to describing doing things that make a difference – actions. Sixth, He talks about adding value to others from your sweet spot – your area of gifting. With chapter 7 He transitions into discussing actions alongside other people who make a difference. The chapter describes ways to connect with like minded people. Basically, you should always be on the lookout. Eight, Maxwell points out the you should only spend your time partnering with like-minded people. This chapter is of utmost importance. Ninth, You should live with a sense of anticipation – waiting for your moment to make a difference. Tenth, You should be urgent about seizing significant opportunities.

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Application of John Maxwell’s Intentional Living

In my role of leading Small Groups and Media at Greenwood, John Maxwell’s Intentional Living has several applications. First, Maxwell’s fourth chapter (finding your why) challenged me to be able to clearly, and succinctly articulate the need for the ministries that I lead. The sad part is that I really thought I could, but after working through the questions at the end of the chapter, I decided I didn’t really have a good enough statement ready – so I’ve been working on it. Chapter 5, putting others first, challenges me because I am a selfish human being. I’m sure none of you are like that… Chapter 6, adding value from your sweet spot, can be a challenge if you don’t know what your special gifting is. For me, I know what my spiritual gifts are (if you don’t see my earlier post about how to find them), and what my leadership strengths are (see my post on Strenghts Finder 2.0), and even my own technical expertise in the Old Testament (where I occasionally teach at Seminary). All of this has led me to decide that I need to work on helping my small group leaders learn the best ways to read the Bible, and the best ways to communicate effectively to small groups. So, I’m going to focus hard on those two things for a while. I also really liked Maxwell’s idea in chapter 8 about partnering with like minded people. He suggested that you carry some sort of card with a short description of your vision and be ready to give it to people who might be interested. Let them decide if they are committed, and dont’ be shy about telling them how difficult it will be. You only want to invest time in people that will also be committed to making a difference. For me, that chapter was one of the biggest takeaways from the book. You see, I’ve worked in churches where we tried to motivate people to do things that they weren’t really interested in. It only works temporarily. Right now I have a team of some people are are extremely excited (on their own) about certain aspects of certain ministries. We practically have to tell them to leave so we can lock up the doors after services.

Please let me know your response to my thoughts here, whether positive or negative. As always, if you are interested in this book, please click the following link. It won’t cost you any extra, but it will give me a small commission on your purchase. Thanks for reading!

You can check out my Podcast here, or check out my review of Basic Bible Reading Books.

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