Newsletter #507 – What Can We Do to Grow?

Recently I have been reading John Maxwell’s latest book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Maxwell is a good communicator and successful author. He inspires and encourages many readers but I rarely read what he writes. His seemingly endless volumes of irrefutable laws, indispensable qualities, indisputable laws, or lists of lessons, ways, or practices for success, look like interminable lists that can be simplistic and difficult to remember.

Perhaps books of principles or guidelines should be read as collections of wisdom, quotations and experiences. Like selections in a buffet they don’t have equal appeal to everybody but in the end most people find something to taste and digest. Maxwell’s laws of growth can present new ideas or, perhaps more often, they remind us of what we already know but easily forget. Here are examples:

  • The book’s title and content show the importance of growing deliberately and as long as we are able. Every day Maxwell takes time to focus on how he has grown in the previous few hours and how he can grow more in the immediate and distant future. Surely that focus on growth contributes to his success.
  • Environments both stimulate and squelch growth. We grow when we interact with stimulating and challenging individuals, groups, ideas, books, and other growth-inducing experiences. Sometimes this involves taking risks. We grow as well when we provide opportunities to help others grow.
  • Growth more often comes to those who can find value in whatever they do, who believe in their own growth potential, and who pause periodically to take a fresh stock of their lives.

Probably God wants all of us to grow but this happens in different ways. Some of us have the drive to produce, the courage to take risks, or the freedom to make proactive steps that stimulate growth in ourselves or others. Maxwell cultivates this kind of thinking and describes useful, invaluable ways to grow. But these may not apply to everybody. We don’t all define success in the same way and maybe there are different laws of growth for different personalities.

What do you think? What are you doing to grow and to grow others? Please share your comments.


  1. In these last months I have been making a deliberate effort not to avoid difficult situations that will test me. I have been using these situations as spring boards to my own growth by viewing difficulties as opportunities for God to change and grow me. I have deliberately been spending more time with unbelievers because they unknowingly hold me up to a higher standard than believing friends. I find that, at the end of the opportunity, when all is said and done, my growth has witnessed to others who see God’s glory and mercy in me during these times.


    1. Hope, I love your post. Like you I have found that hanging oiut with people who are not like me can be a phenomenal way to grow and, as you point out, this has other good results. Later this month I am thinking of posting my response to an article on creativity. One of the key suggestions is to get out of your comfort zone.


  2. It seems we do grow in different ways and I believe that is consistent with God’s plan for us because He created each of us uniquely and gives each of us differenet gifts, so that we can work together, united in Him, in order to glorify Him. I like Hope’s comment describing his relationship with unbelievers. Doesn’t that describe the role of an ambassador of the kingdom? Thanks Gary for helping us view growth in the context of comparing ourselves to God’s standard rather than man’s standard.


  3. My wife is a former Christian school teacher, and began her teaching career with the kindergarten class. A mother of one of her children came to school early one morning to share a story with her. She said her little girl came home from school earlier that week, and approached her as she was cooking dinner. “Momma, please stop cooking. We’ve got to read the bible … right now!” Puzzled, the mother said she asked her little five-year-old, “Why do we need to read the bible now, honey?” The little girl responded, “We sang a song at school today: ‘Read your bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow.’ And I’m tired of being this short. I’d like to get taller.”

    I’m not sure about all of Maxwell’s laws of growth, but ‘Read your bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow’ seems like a good place to start? Thanks Gary, for your life, your writing, your mentorship.


  4. I like your final statement, Gary. While books like Maxwell’s can be inspirational, there is no single formula of growth. These things do not come in a “one size fits all.” You remind me of a concept from Lev Vygotsky – zones of proximal development. Each of us has our particular contexts, internal and external strengths, and obstacles. My potential for growth is most likely realized to the extent that I take reasonable steps beyond my current zone of comfort, but within an achievable range. Coaches and mentors can provide a working model and helpful scaffold of support.

    Thanks, Gary!


    1. Thanks Mark. It always is good to hear from you. And I think you are right on, especially he quotation. Maxwell is a wise guide who has studied growth and success for years. His principles are often thought-provoking and helpful. But I suspect even he might agree that growth is very individual. What works for some is much less effective with others.


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