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Five Things I Know About People (Part 2 of 2)

Five Things I Know About People (Part 2 of 2)

Best-selling author John Maxwell shares five "people principles" which effectively demonstrate genuine love and affirmation toward others while simultaneously reaching them with the love of Christ. (Part 2 of 2)

Original Air Date: March 4, 1994



Dr. John Maxwell: We were in the baptistry the other day, and I was baptizing a brand-new Christian, 26-years-old, never been in church in all of his life. I was ready to lay him under the water, and I had my hand in the air, and I was saying to him, “Upon your profession of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and obedience …” And he saw my hand in the air. He looked back at my hand in the air and all of a sudden, a big, ol’ smile got across his face and he gave me a “high five” right in the baptistry! (Laughter)

End of Recap

John Fuller: Well, recalling a great moment when he was a pastor, that’s Dr. John Maxwell and that was featured in our last “Focus on the Family” program and he was sharing about the “Five Things He Knows About People.” Stay with us. We have more stories and laughter and insight from Dr. Maxwell today. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, how can you not be impressed with Dr. Maxwell’s message last time? I mean, he does such a great job of mixing humor and wisdom and he shared two of the five things he observed about people last time. No. 1 was, everybody wants to be somebody in their heart of hearts. And then No. 2, nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. And that’s a classic line. If you missed last time, call us and get a CD or the download or go to the phone app and listen, because it was full of great wisdom and insight.

In fact, for a donation of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family, I’d like to send you a copy of this full message on CD as my way of saying thank you.

John F.: And you can donate and request that CD when you call 800-232-6459 or at

Let’s jump right back into Dr. Maxwell’s message, as we continue. Here’s point No. 3 from his “Five Things I Know About People,” as we continue today’s “Focus on the Family.”


Dr. John Maxwell: The third principle I want to give you tonight–a very important one–and that is, everybody who belongs to the body of Christ belongs to everybody that belongs to the body of Christ. Let me show you what I mean. You see, I find too many Christians that are what I call “lone rangers.” I find too many Christians who … who, basically, they’re trying to do it on their own. And I read this recently and I thought it probably hits it better than anything else I could say. And so, let me just show you what I mean.

This is a story told about a bricklayer who tried to move about 500 pounds of bricks from the top of a four-story building to the sidewalk below. The problem was he tried to do it alone. In his own words, taken from his insurance claim form (Laughter), are you ready?

It would’ve taken too long to carry the bricks down by hand, so I decided to put them in a barrel and lower them by a pulley, which I had fastened to the top of the building. After tying the rope securely at ground level, I then went up to the top of the building, fastened the rope around the barrel, loaded it with bricks, swung it over the sidewalk for the descent. Then I went down the sidewalk and untied the rope.

Audience: (Laughter)

John M.: Let me do it if you don’t mind. (Laughter) I untied the rope, holding it securely to guide the barrel down slowly, but since I weigh only 140 pounds (Laughter), the 500-pound load jerked me from the ground so fast that I didn’t have time to think of letting go the rope. And as I passed between the second and third floors (Laughter), I met the barrel coming down. (Laughter)

This accounts for the bruises and the lacerations on my upper body. I held tightly to the rope until I reached the top, where my hand became jammed in the pulley (Laughter). This accounts for my broken thumb. At the same time, however, the barrel hit the sidewalk with a bang and the bottom fell out (Laughter). With the weight of the bricks gone–

Audience: (Laughter)

John M.: –ready for another trip? (Laughter) With the weight (Chuckling) of the bricks gone, the barrel weighed only about 40 pounds (Laughter). Thus my 140-pound body began a swift descent (Laughter). I met the empty barrel coming up. This accounts for my broken ankle. Slowed only slightly, I continued the descent and landed on the pile of bricks (Laughter). This accounts for my sprained back and broken collar bone. At that point, I lost my presence of mind completely and I let go of the rope.

Audience: (Laughter)

John M.: Are you all right, sir? (Laughter) I let go of the rope and the empty barrel came crashing down on me (Laughter). This accounts for my head injuries (Laughter). And as for the last question on your insurance form, “What would you do if the same situation arose again?” please be advised I’m finished trying to do the job all by myself. (Laughter)

(Chuckling) You see, that’s exactly what happens; that’s exactly what happens when we try to do it alone instead of realizing that everybody that belongs to the body of Christ belongs to everybody that belongs to the body of Christ. In other words, we’re related. We’re brothers and sisters in Jesus and we’re going on a journey together.

Principle No. 4: the fourth thing I know about people is that anybody who helps somebody influences a lot of bodies. Anybody who helps somebody influences a lot of bodies. What I’m saying is, when you and I begin to pour our effort into helping someone else, it is absolutely amazing how we will encourage and influence a lot of other people

But let me teach this principle in the best way I know to teach it, because I learned a long time ago, you know what our tendency is? Our tendency is to hold back. Our tendency is to see somebody that has a need and our tendency is just to kind of hold back, not because we don’t want to meet that need, but we’re kind of waiting for somebody else to do something about it.

Three years ago we were at the Holiday Bowl. I think it was Wyoming and Oklahoma State, if I’m not mistaken, but the game was kind of boring. And we were clearing the third quarter and it was kind of cold that night, unusually cold for San Diego. And the people were kind of listless and there just didn’t seem to be any kind of community or camaraderie or team spirit in the section that we were in.

And all of a sudden I looked down and I saw an old man who’s kind of a fixture at Jack Murphy Stadium. He sells newspapers. I stood up and said, “Hey, I need some papers!” And he came up to the end of our row and he started to hand one paper down. I said, “No, no, no! I want all of your papers. He looked at me and he says, “You’re kidding!” I said, “No.” I said, “How many have you got?” And I don’t know. I think he had about 10 or whatever he had and he sent the 10 papers down and I sent a few bills up that way to him. And boy, he got all excited! He sold out in one whack. And he put his hands in the air and everybody started cheering as he kind of started doing his victory lap.

And I said, “Now, if he’s smart, he won’t go home. He’ll make some extra money for himself tonight. And about 10 minutes later, here he comes up into my section with an armload of newspapers (Laughter). And he’s looking up there at me and he said, “Newspapers for sale!” I thought, “I’m gonna see how long we can carry this one on.” (Laughter)

I sat up and said, “Come on up here.” He came up there. I said, “How many newspapers you got?” He counted. I said, “Send ’em on down.” He sent a bundle down; I sent him the bucks back that way. And I mean, now the whole section’s starting to watch what’s happening. He has his hands in the air. People are clapping and cheering and having the best time. And he kind of does his victory lap and now we’ve got a whole bunch of newspapers on our laps. (Laughter)

The guys said, “What are we gonna do?” I said, “Well, I think it’s time to pass out newspapers.” I looked around at my section. I said, “We’ve got some newspapers here. Hey, who wants a free newspaper?” And somebody said, “Hey, I’ll take the sports section!” We started passing out newspapers and before you know it, we’ve got about 100 people with different sections of the newspaper. And they’re sitting up there in the stadium and they’re saying, “Hey, over on page seven’s a good article.” And we’re starting to talk, you see. We’re starting to become family now. You got me? We’re becoming community. We’re enjoying each other.

About 10 minutes later, here comes the boy up with another stack of newspapers. (Laughter) I stood up. I said, “Come on up here.” By this time, we’ve got 500 people in the section watching what’s going on. He sends down the newspapers. I send down the money. We are now passing out newspapers throughout the whole section of that stadium and everybody’s having the best [time]; we’re laughing now. Fifteen minutes earlier nobody’s laughing; nobody’s talking. They’re just sitting on their hands, watching the ball game, bored. Now everybody’s laughing; everybody’s enjoying themselves; everybody is having a good time.

And then, all of a sudden, I look up, and right in front of me is a peanut vendor (Laughter)–[a] peanut vendor loaded with peanuts. (Laughter) And I looked at him and he looked at me. And I said, “I suppose you’ve been watching this.” He said, “I sure have.” (Laughter) I said, “I suppose you want me to buy those peanuts.” He said, “No.”

He said, “There are 100 bags here,” and with that, he dumped them on my lap. And he said, “You see that guy over there at the next section?” And I looked over there and he was looking at me and he was waving. I don’t know who he was. He said, “That guy has been watching you and he decided you had enough fun. He was going to get into it, too. (Laughter) And here are some peanuts for you.” (Laughter)

About that time, the newspaperman comes running back up. (Laughter) He looks at me and I started to stand up and the guy on the end of our row said, “You sit down. You’ve had enough of this. I’m buying the newspapers this time.” (Laughter) He buys the newspapers, passing them out. We took the bags of peanuts. We started throwing them all over the stadium. People [were] sitting there with their newspapers, their peanuts, having the best time, talking to one another and enjoying one another.

It got a little boring and about five minutes before the end of the game, we decided to go. And the four of us stood up and when we stood up, the whole section stood up and gave us a standing ovation and “high fives” all the way out of the stadium. (Laughter)

What am I saying? I’m gonna tell you exactly what I’m saying. The moment that you begin to turn and help other people, it will influence other people to help other people and all of sudden, you get something going that is wonderful and alive and exciting.

Program Note:

John F.: Well, I love a passionate speaker and that is Dr. John Maxwell on today’s “Focus on the Family.” And he’s talking about five things he’s observed about people. And he’s captured those same thoughts in his book, Winning with People. It’s available here at the ministry and for a generous donation of any amount today to Focus on the Family, we’ll send a complimentary copy of this message on CD. You can donate and learn more when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or at . Let’s go ahead and hear more now from Dr. John Maxwell on today’s “Focus on the Family.”

End of Program Note

John M.: Let me give you one more principle tonight–principle No. 5–and this is the most beautiful of all and that is, God loves everybody. God loves everybody. Red and yellow, Black and white, they are precious in his sight. God loves people.

In my church in Lancaster, Ohio, back in the early ’70s when I went to pastor that church, it had plateaued for a period of about 10 years and I wanted to see it grow. I sat down; I never will forget. I sat down with the church board one night. And I had all the charts, and I was showing them how we ought to start growing. And I gave about a 45-minute pep talk. Now you people will find it probably hard to imagine, but I really can get excited. (Laughter)

And I gave about a 45-minute pep talk about how the church could grow and how excited I was about the church growth. And finally, when that pep talk was over, I’ll never forget. I sat down and when I sat down, I was so excited ’cause I knew that church board, all as one, would stand up and rise up and say, “Let’s go build a great church for God!” (Laughter) Nobody moved.

Finally, after the awkwardness of three or four minutes, a fellow by the name of Jim, who was the lay leader of the church, stood up. He looked at me, and he said, “Pastor, you don’t understand.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “We’re not opposed to growth.” He said, “You don’t understand. We can’t grow here.” I said, “What do you mean?”

Well, he said, “We’ve been plateaued for 10 years and a couple of years ago, we were so concerned about it, we flew in this Sunday school expert from another state. And he flew in for three days to look at our church and to look at our Sunday school and look at our space. And he went around and he checked out all the square footage of our church and all the square footage of all of our Sunday school classes. And he came back to the board and he said, `Board, you can’t grow. You don’t have enough room to grow anymore.’”

And I sat there, and I thought, “Where is that Dr. Sunday School Expert?” I looked at my board that night and I saw something. I saw they had become paralyzed by another man’s perception of what they could or could not do. Listen to me: Don’t let anybody come in and limit your life by telling you what you can’t do. Don’t let anybody ever stifle your potential and pull you down and keep you from being who God really intends for you to be.

We started having prayer meetings with the board and things began to happen. And we bought buses and we started going soul-winning. And to make a long story short, in that same church where that Sunday school expert said that we could only run about 400 in, in that same church within three years, we were running 1,000 people. And we became the fastest-growing Sunday school in the state of Ohio.

In fact, we got a letter saying that we were the fastest-growing Sunday school in the state of Ohio and if we’d go to Coble Hall in Detroit, Michigan, they would give us an award because they were gonna award every Sunday school in all the 50 states that were the fastest growing. And man, I got all excited! And I got about 13 of my key people and we got in a big, huge vehicle and we went up to Detroit, Michigan, ready to get this banner. We were really excited about what God was doing in our church.

I never will forget. We stopped at the Holiday Inn about two miles from Coble Hall. We decided to freshen up. I had the best soul-winners with me–the people that really had helped me build the church. I came down about 30 minutes before the ceremonies and there were a couple of my guys down there arguing. And I said, “Guys, what are you arguing about?” They said, “Well, we all wanted to ride in the front seat of the taxicab on the way over.” I said, “I’ll fix that. I’ll ride in the front seat.” (Laughter) By the way, the reason they all wanted to ride in the front seat of the taxicab was, whoever got to ride in the front seat would be the person who would be privileged to tell the driver about Jesus. What do you folks argue about?

Finally, three taxicabs pulled up. (Laughter) They had no idea. (Laughter) I got in the front seat of the first one. We started to pull out under the canopy of the Holiday Inn. I stuck my hand out and said, “My name’s John Maxwell.” He said, “Hi, my name’s Charlie.” We started to pull out from under the canopy. I said, “Charlie, let me ask you a question. If you died right now, would you have the assurance of going to heaven?” He hit the brakes of that car (Laughter) and he looked both ways. He thought for sure I saw something he didn’t. (Laughter) I finally convinced him it was okay to go on and he proceeded cautiously. (Laughter)

The three guys in the back of the taxicab all had their heads bowed and they were praying. And I just talked to Charlie about Jesus and how much Jesus loved him and Old Charlie didn’t pay a bit of attention to me. He just looked straight ahead, didn’t nod, didn’t give me any kind of an understanding he was with me. He just looked straight ahead.

And then I saw God do what I’ve seen God do hundreds of times in my life as I’ve shared my faith, thousands and thousands of times. I saw the Spirit of God look down and say, “Well, Maxwell’s trying to witness and as usual, he’s not doing too well. (Laughter) But it’s okay, ’cause he’s my kind of guy. He tries.” He got in the taxicab with me and the Spirit of God climbed over there on Charlie’s lap and started knocking on his heart’s door. And pretty soon I saw the tears begin to form. By the time we got that two-mile ride finished at Coble Hall, Charlie pulled out to let us out to get the banner for being the fastest-growing church in the state of Ohio, took off his hat, bowed his head [and] gave his heart to Jesus.

We got out of that taxicab and we started jumping up and down. We were so excited. We were just like a bunch of kids, anyway. We started jumping up and down. And pretty soon the second taxicab pulls up. We all stopped, and sure enough, they were praying with that driver. They got out and now we’re all jumping up and down and having the best time of our lives.

People [were] going into Coble Hall to get those awards. We could care less about those awards. We were having the time of our life. The third taxicab pulls up. We looked in there, but they didn’t pray. They jumped out. “Boy,” we said, “guys, we were hoping we’d go three for three tonight.” Oh, they started laughing; they said, “Listen, our taxicab driver got under conviction so bad, he pulled over about a mile back and got saved.” (Laughter) We are now not walking into Coble Hall; we are now floating into Coble Hall. I’ll never forget it.

We came in there that night and sat down in that stadium. We decided to look at the program to see what was gonna happen. And I opened up my program, I’ll never forget it. As I looked at the top of the name[s], there was a name that arrested my attention who was going to be the master of ceremonies. The night that we were going to get the award for being the fastest-growing Sunday school in the state of Ohio, you would never guess. Yes, you would guess.

Audience: (Laughter)

John M.: The master of ceremonies the night that we received the award for being the fastest growing Sunday school in the state of Ohio was “Dr. Sunday School Expert.” (Extended Laughter) He finally announced the winners. And I went up to the platform to get my banner for saying we’re the fastest-growing Sunday school in the whole state of Ohio. And he called out my name and I got that banner. And I so desperately wanted to, but didn’t, as I went by go Pfft! (Laughter)

Hey, folks, you see what the difference is? Dr. Sunday School Expert is interested in square feet and Jesus is interested in people and there’s a world of difference! I want to close with something I recently read. I think it’ll put everything into perspective of what I’ve tried to say tonight about people. Listen carefully, because it’ll speak to you.

A man fell into a pit and couldn’t get himself out. A subjective person came along and said, “I feel for you down there.” An objective person came along and said, “Well, it’s logical that someone would fall down there.” (Laughter) A Christian Scientist came along and said, “You only think that you’re in that pit.” (Laughter) A Pharisee said, “Only bad people fall into pits.” A mathematician calculated how he fell into the pit. A news reporter wanted an exclusive story on his pit. A fundamentalist said, “You deserve your pit.” (Laughter)

A Calvinist said, “If you’d been saved, you’d have never fallen in that pit.” (Laughter) A Wesleyan said, “You were saved and still fell in that pit.” (Laughter) A charismatic said, “Just confess that you’re not in that pit.” (Laughter) Did I miss anybody? (Laughter)

A realist came along and said, “Now, that’s a pit!” (Laughter) A geologist told him to appreciate the rock strata in the pit. An IRS man asked if he was paying taxes on his pit. (Laughter) The county inspector asked if he had a permit to dig the pit. (Laughter) An evasive person came along and avoided the subject altogether. A self-pitying person said, “You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my pit.” (Laughter) An optimist said, “Things could be worse.” A pessimist said, “Things will get worse.” (Laughter) Jesus, seeing the man, reached down and took him by the hand and lifted him out of the pit.


John F.: Dr. John Maxwell wrapping up a two-part presentation on “Focus on the Family” about reaching out and helping people in need.

Jim: What a great message from Dr. John Maxwell and his insights and wisdom and humor always keep me engaged. I love the way he communicates. And we can all take his message to heart. When you get right down to it, it is about respect and if we can keep those thoughts in mind as we’re interacting with other people, maybe even people that don’t think the way we think as Christians, that’s the test. Can you extend yourself, generosity toward another? It’s easy to do. It says in Luke 6, you know, it’s easy to love those who love you. I tell you, love those who hate you. Well, there’s a challenge the Lord gave us. But by doing what Dr. John Maxwell had suggested, it should improve our interaction with other people. Our communication will be more effective and our relationships will be stronger and most of all, we’ll be living out the Gospel.

Here at Focus on the Family, we want to help you learn how to do those things to keep your marriage stronger, to help your parenting and to help you engage the culture around you for the Lord. Hopefully, we can provide you answers if you have questions in any of those areas. Let me also encourage you to partner with us. We couldn’t provide those necessary tools without your help and together, just to give you an example, last year alone, over 250,000 people came to Christ through the ministry here. And I want to say thank you to each of you who helped us over the past 12 months financially, because without you, that would never have happened. So, if you can, support us today so we can continue to help people in every area of their life. And as our way of saying thank you, I want to send Dr. John Maxwell’s full CD presentation when you make a gift today.

John F.: And you can contribute generously at or when you call 800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Dr. Maxwell also captured his thoughts in the book, Winning with People and as a leadership expert, he’ll help you learn how to build and strengthen your relationships. And we’d encourage you to ask for a copy of that book when you get in touch. Again, or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, I’m John Fuller, inviting you back next time, as we hear from Vicki Courtney. She has ideas about finding rest in the midst of a busy world.


Mrs. Vicki Courtney: We adopt the pace that everyone else is going and so, if you slow down and you really, you know, you’re … you … you look at God’s Word and you see, you know, where He in the creative order, He … He models the Sabbath rest for us and things like that. When you begin to practice it, you almost feel lazy, because you’re looking at everybody else and we’re all just going 90 miles an hour, trying to accomplish so much. And so, a lot of it is the culture we live in that has rubbed off on us.

End of Excerpt

John F.: You’ll learn how to step back and take it easy, as Vicki Courtney joins us on the next “Focus on the Family” with Jim Daly and we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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