Thinking for a Change

A book review

Dr. R.E. Carroll used to tell his students at Kansas City College and Bible School that if they would concentrate on a given subject for 15 minutes a day they could become an expert in that particular subject. He also told us that few people have learned to concentrate for any length of time. This may account for the reason that many duplicate rather than incarnate. It is much easier for a pastor or a board of deacons to borrow an idea or a method from another church rather than to take the time to think through a problem creatively, in order to discover a custom fit solution. This is sad for in this manner we severely limit our potential. As Benjamin Disraeli once stated, “Nurture great thoughts, for you will never go higher than your thoughts.”

John C. Maxwell, highly acclaimed motivational speaker and expert in the discipline of leadership, is the founder and CEO of Injoy, a ministry that trains, and provides resources to thousands of leaders around the world. His voluminous and popular writing has made it possible for him to have his own section in many bookstores. Christian and secular leaders look to him for guidance in the art of providing skillful leadership.

One of his more recent works is titled, “Thinking for a Change.” The title is catchy and could lead the browser to one of two conclusions. The author might be writing about the subject of “change” with the desire to think of strategies to reach that goal. On the other hand, he might be writing to people who do little serious thinking and need to make an intellectual change. When you peruse the book, you soon discover that Maxwell’s desire is to explore the second possibility.

As is common with John Maxwell’s other books, the material is structured very well. “Thinking for a Change” is divided into two parts. The first portion speaks of the necessity to change your thinking and your life. To do this John says that you must 1) understand the value of good thinking, 2) realize the impact of changed thinking, and 3) master the process of intentional thinking. The second portion of the book describes in detail, eleven thinking skills. Each chapter begins with a quote from a notable person to support the material presented. Another quote per chapter is titled “What Were They Thinking?” These quotes humorously note comments made which display lack of thought. For example, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the USA once said, “Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.” We must smile, shake are head and say, “What was he thinking!”

Each chapter of the book is clearly structured which makes it easy to follow the author’s train of thought. Sidebars litter each chapter as well. I believe that the sidebars are unnecessary. I found that I was often disgusted because the sidebars repeated quotes that I had just read in the body of the text.

Maxwell, also gives more stories and examples than necessary. It appears that he sees the need to illustrate everything. Much of the material is so obvious that an illustration seems to mock the reader’s intelligence. At times, I found myself inwardly commenting, “I got it the first time, John!”

The book was enjoyable to read but had so many lists that it was difficult to assimilate. If the book is read casually, it will not have accomplished the intended purpose. On the other hand, to read it with serious thought takes more time than a volume of this size normally would require.

I do feel that “Thinking for a Change” does meet a special need. I would encourage pastors, leaders, and laity alike to read the book because we do need to learn to think more seriously about the business of doing God’s work. Mediocrity is not acceptable. Just getting by is not satisfactory. We must realize that we have a mission to accomplish. We must remember that we are doing the King’s business. Excellence is the standard. To accomplish this we need to “think for a change.”

Maxwell, John C. (2003). Thinking for a Change. New York, NY
ISBN 0-446-52957-5

by Dr. Gayle Woods

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