Newsletter 641 – How to Be People Builder

In 1976 a book appeared that has sold more than any of the others I‘ve written. How to Be a People Helper was an introduction to counseling written mostly for church people, including pastors, when professional mental health services were less popular and accepted than they are today. The book still sells even thoutwo men 10gh it’s way outdated. The publisher was not interested when I suggested an updated 40th anniversary edition but in many ways my focus has shifted from people helping to people building. This is a focus on walking with those who are going through transitions, decision-making and other life events that are less in need of counseling and better served by friends, encouragers, mentors and trained coaches.

There are few books or courses on people building but, for what it’s worth, here is some of what I’ve learned:

  • If you want to make an impact as a people builder, open your eyes and ask God to show who you might influence. I have connected with many people in my neighborhood, community, church, and classes. One example is a brilliant graduate student who arrived as an undocumented immigrant and checked out our groceries in a supermarket when he was a teenager. Another is a biracial waiter with dreadlocks and a passion to succeed as a pop musician. He was our server in a local coffee shop. There’s also a native Parisian, pastor in Paris, author and specialist in multicultural marriages. We met informally at a conference. Today these are among my closest friends. We build one another.
  • Show a genuine interest in the people you meet. Ask about their backgrounds. Listen to their stories. Expect to be surprised at what develops.
  • Recognize that each of us has a personality and a place where we have been planted. For me, striking up conversations with strangers is easy. I live in an apartment building, still teach, and regularly go to a fitness club. Remember the cliché: bloom where you are planted. Focus on the people who surround you. Let God work through your circumstances and personality.
  • Expect to make a difference. Legacies or resumés don’t interest me but I know what I want to leave after I’m gone: people whose lives and careers I’ve helped to build. Whatever our ages, we still have time to: Be a People Builder!

Please comment about your experiences as a people-builder or about people who spent time building you.


  1. Hi Gary I have used “How To Be A People Helper” over the 40 or so years of Ministry and found it to be a Great Tool in doing ‘just that’. Thanks for your Superb Skills [and Friendship]. John Mills [retired ???] Pastor


  2. Hi Gary,

    I always smile when I read your work. You never fail to inspire. 🙂

    I hope this finds you and Julie doing well, but I know things have been difficult from what you shared in our last conversation. You always remain in my prayers.

    How interested are you in writing an updated version of ³How to Be a People Helper²? Though your publisher is not interested in a 40-year update, you could easily write a book based upon that one but modified significantly to reflect your coaching approach, avoiding any concerns about having violated your original contract for the previous book, and simply title it ³How to Be a People Builder².

    Confidentially, if that interests you, I have launched a publishing house (Mount Tabor Media) utilizing the best of the new technologies in publish-on-demand, and our first release will be out this April ‹ ³Ethics & Risk Management for Christian Coaches². It¹s a college-type glossy hardback book by Dr. Michael Marx, President of the Christian Coaches Network and a member of the ICF committee on Ethics. Price point is $40, and it has a guaranteed market as a required text in Professional Christian Coaching Institute as well as other schools that have already said they will adopt it. Naturally, it¹s available in e-book format as well for digital readers, but at a similarly high price point.

    My goal for Mount Tabor Media is to combine it with the strong marketing I now have in the church world through the podcast, Professional Christian Coaching Today ( Upcoming guests include Dr. Richard Swenson, best-selling author of ³Margin² and ³The Overload Syndrome² and Michael Hyatt, along with many others. You recall having done a podcast interview with me back in 2012 ‹ this is a greatly improved show, with co-host Kim Avery, professionally produced by the former chief audio engineer at Focus on the Family. It topped iTunes for 8 weeks running in our categories of Spirituality, Education, and Business.

    If this interests you, I¹d love to talk. Not a bit of pressure ‹ I just heard your heart in today¹s People Builder blog and I know how well ³How to be a People Helper² has sold all these years. I know I can work a better contract for you than any major publishing house because of my low overhead, and my editorial & layout team are top-knotch ‹ contracted by several high-profile groups including Success Magazine.

    Let me know if this strikes a chord. Not a problem at all if it doesn¹t. Continued blessings to you, my friend.

    Chris ŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠŠ Christopher McCluskey, CMCC, PCC President & CEO

    From: People Builders Blog Reply-To: People Builder’s Blog Date: Thursday, January 14, 2016 at 2:01 PM To: Subject: [New post] Newsletter 641 ­ How to Be People Builder Gary R. Collins, PhD posted: “In 1976 a book appeared that has sold more than any of the others IŒve written. How to Be a People Helper was an introduction to counseling written mostly for church people, including pastors, when professional mental health services were less popular and”


    1. Hey Christopher! It always is good to hear from you. We go back a long way, don’t we? Back before I was a coach (in part because of your encouragement) and even before you were a coach.

      Your long post demands a longer and more reflective response than I should give here. I will send you a message on this soon.

      But let me affirm that I am nor surprised about your publishing venture. And you will not be surprised that the People-Builder book you propose (even the title) has been on my radar for a couple of years. I am just now getting settled back into my writing and this is high on the priority list. I even know how I would approach it.

      In the meantime, there have been some developments in the issues to which your post alluded, we are settled into a condo community apartment (that’s a change) and some interesting things are emerging in my contacts with academia – just when I thought my teaching career is over.

      Like my friend John Mills in Australia, I have no plans to retire. I bet you don’t either although, of course, you are way younger than me.

      Keep up the good work Christopher. You are impacting a ton of people.



  3. Something useful to keep in mind is the concept of a tiny seed, which planted, can grow into a large plant and bear much fruit. We often think that we have to do really “big things” in order to make a difference, but sometimes it’s a case of obeying in the smallest of things that causes enormous impact. I am blessed to know that God honors obedience to His still small Voice. Let us strive for that!


    1. Beautiful Jenny. Thanks.

      I have said often that any legacy I might have will not be in the things I’ve written or the talks I’ve given. My impact (and I suspect yours as well) will be in the people whose lives I’ve been honored to touch. These are pretty ordinary people, the kinds I run into as I go about my days. I get special fulfillment when these folks, including past students, soar past me to places where I’ll never go.


  4. Thanks Dr. Gary, this week while I was reading ‘My Outmost For His Highest’ by Oswald Chambers, he made me to know that when God calls you to reach out to people all you have to do is to obey and He will bring such people into your life. This year I wanted to start a fellowship in my neighborhood. I prayed and God gave me the opportunity to meet two amazing ladies in my neighborhood, we have started sharing the word of God together. This is just so refreshing to meet new people and there can be that strong connection to impact lives. I am a past student from Liberty and your books on coaching changed my life! I am a People builder!


    1. What a wonderful post, Joan. And thanks for your comments about my writing. I guess you know that I was at Liberty for a couple of years (part time) probably 25 years ago.

      A few minutes before writing this message to you I wrote my newsletter for this week (tomorrow). I state there that if we want to contact strangers we start by asking God to show us “who?” In my life, those prayers have opened the doors to some of the closest friendships I have today.


  5. Gary,
    I was distressed to hear that your publisher had no interest in a 40 th year update of your work on counseling. The work has been a tremendous help to many, but I feel the most sorrow at the deeply, deeply distressed condition of the general Christian publishing industry as it has come to exist today. I know several writers whose names you would be familiar with, so this is nothing I can’t verify. Would you have any interest it tackling this issue? That is: 1. Christian publishing is in decline. 2. Any reasons you see behind it.


    1. Bob,

      Sometimes my best newsletter posts come from suggestions like yours. There is no doubt that Christian publishing (and publishing in general) is undergoing big changes. Is it in decline? Certainly there is evidence for a “yes” answer, but probably a case could be made that many of the changes are good.

      Do you read Michael Hyatt’s blog? He has spent most of his professional life in publishing and he has a significant knowledge of the field. Maybe he is biased (aren’t we all in some ways?) but he seems to believe that the publishing business is going strong but in different ways than before. In a post last week (that I might mention in a future newsletter) he describes his reasons for putting aside ebooks and sticking with books printed on paper, at least for now. It is an interesting question.

      Tackling it is a great idea. Thanks for prodding me.

      And BTW, thanks for your comments about the people helper book. A revision might be nice but it is not high on the priority list. As soon as the book stops it stops, the publisher will declare it out of print and I (or somebody else) will do the revised edition that at least you and I think is needed


  6. Gary,

    I have not read your “How To Be A People Helper” book, but this post captured my attention. I hope you will either self-publish or go with Chris McCluskey’s publishing idea and write an updated version.

    I am not particularly good at crossing cultural and age barriers to develop relationships with others. I would love to hear your stories about the people you mentioned.

    What questions did you ask them initially? How did they respond? At what point did you know you had made a good connection with them? How do you continue to stay in touch and spend time with people who you seemingly don’t have much in common with? There is a huge need for this information. And people love stories and I think you still have many to tell!

    Please write and publish a new “People Builder” book! My husband, Rich is about to self-publish his 4th novel. It’s not as hard as you think!

    Blessings to you!


  7. Very stimulating post Sheryl. As you soon will discover I have turned your post into the basis for my Newsletter tomorrow.

    And thanks for your comments about the People Helper book. Several of the comments this week have expressed a similar sentiment. See especially, my response to Bob Swift.


  8. Gary, when i met you in Indonesia over 20 years ago, you told me to please feel free to translate your books into Indonesian and to add my Indonesian perspective to it, and you gave me permission to put my name as a co-author. Gary, you are a people-builder. You preach it through your life.

    Paul Gunadi


  9. Hi Again Gary Back in the late 70s early 80s [I Think??] you taught a bunch of us at El Kanah in Marysville Victoria the Principles of People Helping. That was my introduction to you and your Great Insights of this much needed Ministry. I began to develop People Helping skills from that time. However….if Publishers were to ‘really get the Message’ …there would be a flood of GOOD books on this subject.[methinks!!!]. John Mills [retired???]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s