When John C. Maxwell was in his 20s, he sat down with a man who asked him if he had a growth plan for his life.
“He looked at me and said, ‘John, growth is not an automatic process. You get older, but you don’t get better,’” John says. “That day was the first time someone told me I had to think intentionally.”
John asked friends if they had growth plans, but nobody did. He began to approach his life from a purposeful point of view by planning and pursuing concrete steps of growth every day.
“I know of nothing good that just comes to you if you sit still,” John says. “If you’re going to build a great relationship, it’s uphill. If you’re going to build a business, it’s uphill. if you’re going to add value to people, it’s uphill. Everything of value is uphill. … And the only way we’re ever going to go up the hill is by being intentional. Nobody ever unintentionally went uphill.”
John has been on that uphill path for more than 40 years, and nobody can argue with the results. He’s one of the most influential pastors, speakers, and authors today, with more than 70 books to his name. In 2014, the American Management Association named him the No. 1 leader in business.
“I’m passionate about intentional living because I believe it’s the missing piece,” John says. “The most overrated thing in life is good intentions. … But I can find no place where good intentions have any value at all. Good actions do, but to go from good intentions to good actions, you have to be intentional. You don’t get there automatically. The greatest gap in the world is the gap between knowing and doing. We don’t have a knowledge problem. We have an action problem.”
This inspired John’s most recent book, Intentional Living: Choosing a Life that Matters. In an online resource that John created to go with his book, readers go on a 30-day journey to live life with purpose. The key is to create consistent habits in people’s lives.
“Consistency is an undervalued word,” John says. “People want to be charismatic, intelligent, a lot of adjectives — consistent isn’t one of them. Consistency really compounds, though. Consistency doesn’t show up first thing, but if it shows up every day, it’s a matter of time [before you see results]. It’s like when you put money in the bank, and you have compounding interest.”
As part of that 30-day journey, John has partnered with World Vision to challenge people to sponsor a child, which is about consistently giving to one child and his or her community over time to support their development.
“World Vision does great work,” John says. “You talk about consistency, and you go back to [World Vision Founder] Bob Pierce, and you have decades of experience helping people.”