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Josh Hunt

John Maxwell releases another winner with Winning With People

If I Were a Pastor

Quick! Go out and purchase a copy of John Maxwell’s new book, Winning with People. You can get it at any book store, Christian or secular. While you are at it, get enough for your whole staff. While you are at it, get a couple of copies on CD to pass around as well.

Spend the next 20 weeks discussing this book. Assign a chapter a week to a different staff member to lead a discussion in staff meeting. In addition to that, I would have all my teachers study it. Have the teachers gather together for an hour on Wednesday night and learn together how we can win with people. Effective teachers win with people. Ineffective teachers do not win with people.

Why do I recommend this? Well, two short answers and five longer ones. First, training is always good. It is always a good thing for your staff to spend some time in skill development around leadership, people-skills, spiritual development, and church growth issues. When you finish this John Maxwell book, dive into another good book out there. There will always be another one. The Bible says, “Of making many books there is no end.”  Eccles. 12:12 [NIV] Other great books to study include,

  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell
  • Failing Forward, by John Maxwell
  • Courageous Leadership, by Bill Hybels
  • The Purpose Driven Church, by Rick Warren
  • The Seven Laws of the Learner, by Bruce Wilkinson
  • Desiring God, by John Piper

The second short reason to study this book is, it is John Maxwell, and he is always good. I have read nearly everything he has written, and a number of his works I have read (or listened to) multiple times.

Here are five other reasons to study Winning With People.


Christian living is all about love and getting along with people. The Bible says,

  • "If you've got it in you, get along with everybody." Romans 12:18 [Msg] Or, as another translation has it, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Romans 12:18 [NIV] It doesn’t depend completely on you, but it does depend largely on you.
  • "So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault." Romans 14:19 [Msg]
  • "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!" Psalm 133:1 [NIV]
  • "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9 [NIV]
  • "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" James 4:1 [NIV] Implication: whatever causes fights and quarrels among you is bad.
  • "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35 [NIV] The prime mark of the disciple is the mark of love.
  • "May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17:21 [NIV] Our oneness is proof that Jesus was sent by the Father
  • "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." 1 John 4:7 [NIV]
Need I go on? Loving one another, getting along with one another, encouraging one another, bearing with one another, and so forth, is at the core of what it means to be a Christ follower.


I was in a church just recently that has a great location, a nice, relatively new, building, an effective communicator for a pastor, quality music, a first-rate Minister of Education. They have plenty of money, plenty of visitors, plenty of opportunity, but the church is not growing. Why?

For the same reason that a church in Texas is not. I got email from a previous host last week telling the story of the great church fight, round 614. Needless to say, the church isn’t growing.

Why are so many churches not growing? Usually it is about people. It is about conflict. It is about the fact that the Minister of Music can’t get along with the Pastor. It is about deacons who can’t get along with the Minister of Youth. Your people skills, and the people skills of your top-level leaders, more than anything, will determine your effectiveness.

People who win with people win. They get things done. They lead. Things happen. Churches grow. The light pushes back the darkness. The Kingdom advances.

People with poor people skills get the opposite results. Your ability to get along with others, more than any other single factor, will determine your effectiveness in virtually every arena in life.

Your effectiveness is not so much about your talent, how well you preach, or how good the music is. It is not mostly about how good your ideas are. It is not mostly about your education, how much you read or what you read. It is not whether you are seeker-driven, purpose-driven, or tradition-driven. It is mostly about how well you get along with people.

If you develop a loving, gracious, winsome personality, life will go well for you and your ministry will prosper. If you are grumpy, or bitter, or caustic, or sarcastic, or insensitive, your ministry will flounder. Your effectiveness is 99% about getting along with other people.

On the other hand, I have known people who were very dedicated, extremely committed, showed up for church every time the doors were open, would attend training events, visitation, and other ministry events. Yet, they were almost useless in terms of their effectiveness for God. Why? They drove people crazy. People didn’t want to be around them. They didn’t win with people.

Winning with People IS DIFFICULT

I don’t know if they told you this in seminary or not, but people are hard to get along with. They are boring, rude, grumpy and hard to understand. They like their goofy ideas better than your clever ones. Go figure. What is really weird is some people think you are difficult to get along with. What is really, really weird is that some people think I am difficult to get along with.

One of my all time favorite stories is one that John Ortberg recalls. His kids were young, and they were on a long, coast to coast trip. The plane wasn’t very full, so they just went to the very back of the plane and spread out. Next thing you know it didn’t look good, it didn’t smell good, there were diapers and toys and crackers strewn about. You know you are in trouble when the flight attendant comes by and asks, “Any chance these kids could play outside?”

After while, the person in front of John turns around, surveys the damage and says, “Are these your kids.” Hesitating, John affirms that they are. “Oh, I would do anything if we just had two kids,” the man laments.

John pauses. “I guess you and your wife are not able to have kids?” “No,” the man responds, “we have five kids. I would do anything if we just had two kids.”

Sometimes you feel that way about your kids. Sometimes you feel that way about your small group. Sometimes you feel that way about your Sunday School class. Sometimes you feel that way about prospects. Sometimes you feel that way about your pastor.

We say we want to reach people for Christ, but what I sometimes think we mean is, we want to reach nice people for Christ. God calls us to reach all people, and some of them are hard to get along with.

And it is not just the people we reach. Pastors are hard to get along with. Ministers of Education are hard to get along with. Deacons are hard to get along with. Ministers of Music are hard to get along with. And Youth Ministers, they are just plain weird! ;-)

Winning with People IS LEARNABLE

Reading a book like Winning With People can help you get along better with people. Skills can be learned. Studying and discussing the book will teach you even more. As a staff, you can study the book and reflect on how each of you is doing in the 20 key skill areas discussed in the book.

I have been through Dale Carnegie’s classic work, How to Win Friends and Influence People several times, both the print version and the audio version. If I were a pastor I would make it required reading for all my staff. In this book, Carnegie tells story after story of seemingly impossible situations that worked out smoothly because someone had exceptional people skills. You can learn these skills. You can be a master at getting along with other people. Getting along with others is learnable.


People who get along with others have a rich and satisfying life. They are happy. They tend to get along with their kids and raise good kids. They tend to get along with their wives and have good marriages. They tend to have effective ministries. They tend to have growing churches. They tend to not have regrets.

You will never regret the time you spend with people and learning to get along with people. Never. All of life will go better as you learn to get along with others. John Maxwell’s Winning With People can show you how.

I have some regrets. I spent 11 years on church staff and we enjoyed 11 consecutive years of growth. We went from one service and one Sunday School to four services and four Sunday Schools. We tripled in size. Those were exciting days. But, I still have some regrets. I regret I made some enemies along the way. It is hard for me to admit, but some people didn’t like me. I don’t mean they didn’t like my ideas, I mean they didn’t like me. And you rarely lead people who don’t like you. I didn’t. You won’t either.

And the thing is, in my case, it was needless. With a little more skill in getting along with others, I could have avoided huge headaches both for me and the church.

Most people think they have good people skills, but other people are hard to get along with. Can I take off the gloves? You need this book. You need to get along with others better than you do. John Maxwell will show you how. You will always be glad you did.






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