I’ve read several of John C. Maxwell’s books. He has become almost an industry in himself for the production of leadership books. It started while he was still a pastor. Be All You Can Be! draws from leadership lessons he gave his staff at a church where he was pastor.
Maxwell sounds more like a pastor in this book than he does in some of his later works. It is full of homiletical mnemonics. As a kid, I thought these methods were mainly intended to help the hearers remember the message. Nowadays, I think it is equally intended to help pastor remember their sermons.
It is probably best to take the book as a set of lessons. Each chapter has a focused theme on some aspect of leadership. These themes recur in Maxwell’s other books, and entire leadership books are built around any one of them.
The downside of the focused chapters is that it is difficult to find the thread that ties them together, other than leadership. It might be that leadership is a costly endeavor. The potential leader will face obstacles, resistance and distractions in abundance. Much is demanded of a successful leader, and he will need a vision, character, and commitment to carry him through.
The upside of the book is that it covers a lot of ground in relatively few pages. Each chapter can be read at convenient intervals without much concern over the order in which you read them. If you looking for a basic leadership book, especially one that draws on a Christian or ministry context, this may be the one.
Having said that, I think it is worth a paragraph to discuss Maxwell in a wider context. I’ve heard evangelicals lament that recently the books most read by pastors relate to leadership rather than their faith. Many of those leadership books are probably Maxwell products. Be All You Can Be! is more explicitly related to a church setting than his other books, but that isn’t an especially important matter. Maxwell draw examples from the Bible, but he might have found adequate examples from other sources. Even the selection of an author for the forward is telling. Zig Ziglar is a prominent Christian, but millions have read his self-help and sales books without any concern, or possibly even knowledge, of his religion. This book might be found in the Christian section of some bookstores, but it there is little that would keep it out of the business or self-help aisles.
John C. Maxwell also wrote
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