Book Review: “Running with the Giants” by John C. Maxwell (2002)

Related imageThis book could almost be tagged as fiction, judging by the creative way John C. Maxwell delivers this next list of leadership principles from the Word. Taking the “cloud of witness” in Hebrews 12:1 quite literally, Maxwell supposes that we are all in a marathon of life and, as we venture into the stadium at the halfway point before heading back into town for the next thirteen or so miles, we’re blessed to receive encouragement from the stadium full of fans. Several biblical giants of the faith even make their way down the stairs to join us for a lap or two, and each chapter includes what each of these individuals might have said.

He begins with the likes of Noah, who shares that “one person can make a difference” and goes on down the line of Old Testament heroes, some well-known and another not even named. Esther tells us that God has a place for us. Joseph encourages us to not give up on our dreams. Moses tells us to be ruled by faith not safety. Rebekah shares the joys of giving generously to others. Abraham reminds us that God always does the right thing. Nehemiah points out that no problem is too big, when you have help. The servant girl of Naman’s wife reminds us that one small act can make a big difference. And finally, from two great friends, David tells us that we can overcome any limitations others put upon us, and Jonathan supports his buddy by telling us, “Strengthen a leader and save a nation.”

While there were many times through this book I had to chuckle, thinking how closely these Old Testament giants resembled modern self-help gurus, I had to hand it to them: they contextualized their most important life lessons to a modern audience quite well! Maxwell’s probably been accused of triteness once or twice, but those flaws aside, I think he presents these leadership strengths well and in an interesting light.

Each chapter had its high points, but I will specifically note something I learned from Esther. Esther was called upon to do a work for God, and she answered and was used, and many people survived as a result. The important thing to note, however, is that God never needed Esther, and had she refused His invitation, His plans to save many people alive would have gone unhindered. Our sovereign God can and will do all that He pleases, yet He desires that we get involved. We all have an invitation to join the work that He’s already doing, and the only loss that occurs when we refuse is our own. I love that about God, for it makes “His will” not nearly as hard to find as some people make it out to be. Do you want to know what God’s will is for your life? Find out what He’s already doing around you and join Him. It’s as simple as that.

This is a cute and quick guide to biblical tips on leadership, and I think it would be a fitting gift to the recent high school or college graduate. I recommend it, so long as the reader has a bit of imagination.

©2017 E.T.

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