Learning From the Giants

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Imagine what it would be like to spend a day with some of the giants of faith from the Old Testament. What would it be like? John Maxwell shares leadership lessons from the prophet Elijah.

No, not those Giants. (Although I’m sure there are many lessons we could learn from this year’s World Series winners the San Francisco Giants.) Instead, I’m talking about the giants of the faith whose stories are captured in the Bible.

Imagine you could spend a day being mentored by some of the giants of the faith, the men and women of the Old Testament who fought and won great battles, served kings, endured great hardship for God, and came out on the other side transformed. What if they could sit down in a chair across from you, and you had the privilege of spending a few precious minutes with each of them? What would that be like?

That was the intriguing idea that drove me to write my upcoming book, Learning from the Giants.

I have been studying the leaders of the Bible for more than fifty years. Truth be told, everything I know about leadership has come from Scripture. I shared some of the insights I gained about life and leadership in Running with the Giants. For many years, people have been asking me to write another book like it. I’ve spent another ten years reading, meditating on, and studying the major figures of the Bible. And I’m finally ready to share what I’ve learned.

Today I want to share leadership lessons from the great prophet Elijah (whose entire story can be found in the Bible’s 1 and 2 Kings):

There is much we can learn from Elijah’s story. The primary lesson in my book is that God Loves You on Your Bad Days. In addition, three leadership lessons stand out to me:

Even God’s Best Leaders Are Human

It’s very easy for us to read the Bible and believe that the great leaders whose stories we read were somehow beyond life’s normal trials, temptations, and failures. We want to see these giants of the faith as superhuman, but they were not. Their gifts were greater than they were. And they were asked to do things beyond their own capacity. They were in many ways ordinary men and women, but they served an extraordinary God!

Leaders Make the Greatest Impact When They Lead

As obvious as it may sound, leaders must remember that they make a positive difference when they lead. As leaders, we can get caught up in many things that aren’t the main thing. Elijah was at his best when he was leading on Mount Carmel. Good leaders remain focused on what God has called them to do.

God’s Desire for Discouraged Leaders Is for Them to Get Back into Leadership

Every leader fails. Every leader becomes discouraged at some time. Every leader becomes disappointed and wants to run away or quit. Often other people look at a leader’s failure and think, They’ve blown it. They are disqualified from ever leading again.

But that’s not how God thinks. When these things happen, what is God’s desire for these leaders? He wants them to be restored to Him and to get back into the game. After God connected with Elijah and restored their relationship, He told Elijah to go back the way he came, because He still had things for him to do. We should continue to serve God in whatever way He asks. We’re not finished until He says so.

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