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Five Things I Know About People (Part 1 of 2)

Original Air Date 03/03/1994

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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 1 of 2)

Episode Transcript



Dr. John Maxwell: I'm telling you, no matter how old you are, no matter how young you are, no matter what your background, everybody wants to be somebody. And I'm in the people business and one of the things I want to do is be a chief cheerleader for people.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: That's leadership expert, Dr. John Maxwell and he wants to be a cheerleader for others. And we're gonna encourage you how to do just that in your own sphere of influence on today's "Focus on the Family." Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, you know, with my role here at Focus on the Family, I get a chance to meet a lot of interesting people, heads of state, presidents, ordinary people, too that are extraordinary people. And in that clip we just heard, John said he's in the people business. And you know what? Here at Focus, we are, too. It's our mission to be here for marriages, for parents who are struggling in their parenting role. We want to encourage you, strengthen you and support you as life happens, which it's gonna happen. I mean, things are gonna be difficult on some days.

And I have to say, I love how Dr. Maxwell champions people in the message we're about to hear. If you want to be an encourager and the Lord says it's a gift to be an encourager--the gift of encouragement--John Maxwell really nails it and he does it with great humor and heart.

John F.: And he's an accomplished speaker. He was a pastor for a number of years. He's a leadership expert, as I said. He started several organizations and here now, Dr. John Maxwell on today's "Focus on the Family."


Dr. John Maxwell: I am delighted to be here tonight and I thank you for the opportunity. I want to talk to you about my favorite subject tonight and it's not food. (Laughter) I want to talk to you about people. In fact, I want to talk to you about people. I want to give you five principles about people tonight, because, folks, the most important thing that I can think of on earth is people, because that's who Jesus died for. Amen? He is in the people business and I want to talk to you tonight about people.

You see, all of my life, all of my life I've tried to help people. I grew up. I'm a third-generation preacher. And when I was a little kid, my brother, who's two years older than I am, my brother and I, our favorite thing was to play church; loved to play church. (Laughter)

We'd go about a half a block down to Grandma Mittin's house. And Grandma Mittin was one of the old saints in my father's church. And there we would go into her living room and she always had three hymnbooks and she would pass them out. And on one time I would lead the singing and my brother would preach and the next time my brother would lead the singing and I would preach.

And Grandma Mittin would sit on the couch and "Amen!" us and "Praise the Lord!" (Laughter) and "Hallelujah!" the whole time through. I'm telling you, we were great preachers at the age of 4 and 5 and 6. Grandma Mittin knew how to bring the best out of kids.

My brother and I, one day were in the bedroom--that was one of our favorite places to play church. And my mother, that happened to be her place of prayer. And one day we were having a service and Mom wanted to go to the bedroom to kind of pray and she wasn't really sure whether she should or not, 'cause she didn't want to disturb us playing.

And finally, she just felt such a burden to pray, she thought, "I'll just slip in the bedroom quietly. I'll go down to one end of the bed; I'll just kneel real quietly. I won't say a thing to the boys. I'll let them keep on playing church and I'll just have my prayer time." So, my brother's preaching this day and my mother comes into the bedroom, quietly kneels at the bed and he says, "One has come. Are there any others?" (Laughter)

All my life, I've loved people and wanted to help people. And I tell you; it's the most wonderful thing in my entire life. I love people and I love to see people find Jesus, don't you? Don't you love to see brand-new Christians? I told the pastors at lunch, there's nothing more fun than seeing a whole bunch of brand-new babies running around the church.

They don't know anything. They're absolutely clueless, but they're so happy, aren't they, huh? (Laughter) They're just so happy. They haven't been around the older Christians long enough to know they shouldn't be that way. (Laughter) They're just so happy. They're just having the best time of their entire life. They don't know whether they're mid-Trib, post-Trib, pre-Trib. They have no clue what they are. Come on, now! That's all right. Most of us don't, either. (Laughter)

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. And 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 at that hand in the air and he thought, "What's that hand in the air for?" (Laughter)

Now that he's asking the question, I'm starting to ask that same question myself. (Laughter) He looked at that hand in the air and he kind of looked down for a moment. He looked back at my hand in the air and all of a sudden a big old smile got across his face and he gave me a "high five" right in the baptistry. (Laughter and Applause)

I thought I was gonna die. I'm not worried about baptizing him; I am now holding onto the side of the baptistry. (Laughter) I am laughing. I'm saying, "Dear Jesus, help me to hold on. If my arms slip, I'll die. I'll drown right under my own baptistry." (Laughter) I finally got myself together. I went back over, started to raise my hand and said, "No way!" and dropped him right under the water. (Laughter)

I love people; I'm telling you! They come in all sizes. They come in all shapes, but that's exactly what Jesus came to die for: people! He's in the people business. I'm in the people business and we need to be in the people business here.

Let me give you five principles I know about people. Principle No. 1: everybody wants to be somebody. Every person in this room wants to be affirmed. Every person in this room wants to be loved. Every person in this room wants to be well thought of. Everybody wants to be somebody. I find that to be true from the smallest of kids to the oldest of adults.

Every year we have a living Christmas tree at Skyline. Thirty thousand people come during the season and we minister to a lot of people. My favorite thing a couple of years ago at the Living Christmas Tree was when the kids came up and they did a song with candles and they sang "Jesus, the Light of the World."

Now after that little song that night, and of course, they'd have to do it, because we'd do it 30 times because we only can seat 1,000 people in our auditorium, so we have to do 30 performances. And after that first performance that night, they came around the edge and they started to go back this aisle.

And as they got clear to the back of the auditorium, I was back there. They didn't have a clue I was there. And as they came by, I was clapping my hands and I was telling them, "Good job, kids! You were terrific! Good job!" And they looked up at me, "Ooh! Hi, Pastor! Hi, Pastor! Hi, Pastor!" and out they went.

The second performance after they finished singing "Jesus, the Light of the World," they went over to the corner and as they turned the corner, I could see their faces even in the darkness 'cause the candles are on. As soon as they turned the corner, guess what? They looked to see if I was back there again.

And when they saw me back there, a big smile came across their faces, 'cause they knew in about … about 35 or 40 more feet, they were going to get loved and affirmed and believed in. And this time as they were going out, they said, "Oh, Pastor, oh, good to see you!" And I'm giving them "high fives" and telling them what a good job they're doing.

By the third performance, when they were finished, as they turned the corner, they had a smile on their face[s] and they were waving to me from the front as they went back to the back. (Laughter)

I'm telling you, no matter how old you are, no matter how young you are, no matter what your background, everybody wants to be somebody. And I'm in the people business and one of the things I want to do is be a chief cheerleader for people. I want to be an encourager; I want to be able to lift them up.

A couple of Sunday nights ago, we had the marvelous Azusa University choir at our church. It was a marvelous evening of worship and praise. After the service, little Rachel came up to me. Rachel is about 5- or 6-years-old. She has a sister named Erica, a couple of years younger, cute as could be! I tell their parents to hold tight to 'em. They're just the cutest little girls. And she came up after service and I knelt down beside her. And she threw her arms around me and said, "Oh, Pastor!" she said and she held up a tooth. She said, "I lost my tooth tonight."

"Oh," I said, "Rachel, let me tell you something. Some people say there's a tooth fairy. I don't know about that, but I want to tell you: I am your friend and I love you." And I reached in and I gave her a $10 bill. And I said, "I'mwant totell you something, Rachel. You take yourself and you take your sister and you take your mom and dad out to Baskin-Robbins to celebrate. You go out. You lost that tooth; you need some ice cream." (Laughter) I happen to think that's a cure-all, folks. (Laughter) She took her family out to Baskin-Robbins.

Last Sunday I'm out between the second and third service shaking hands. Little Rachel and her sister, Erica, saw me. They're coming across. I'm down on my knees again. They put their little arms around me and she says, "Oh, Pastor," she said, "we went to Baskin-Robbins!" And "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" Kissy, kissy, kissy! And then she says, "Guess what? I think I got another loose tooth." (Laughter)

You say, "What are you saying, John?" It's very simple: everybody wants to be somebody. And every Sunday I have the privilege of preaching to the finest people in the world. And I walk out and when I walk out, do you know what I do? I put 10's on top of their heads. You see, I believe everybody's a 10. And I believe that you get out of people exactly what you expect out of people. And I believe if you put a 10 on their head, they'll respond like a what, crowd?

Audience: Ten!

John M.: You'd better believe it. And if you put a two on their head, they'll respond like a ...

Audience: Two.

John M.: You see, I believe you get out of it exactly what you put into it and I believe that we rise to the expectations of people that like us the very most. And I believe that we'll do everything in our power never to disappoint people that put tens on our heads, because everybody wants to be somebody.

Program Note:

John F.: You're listening to Dr. John Maxwell on "Focus on the Family." His message, five observations that he's made about people and that's reflected in his book, Winning with People, which is available from us and for a donation of any amount today to this ministry, we'll send a copy of this message on CD for yourself or to pass on to someone who is a 10 and just needs some encouragement. You can donate and learn more at or call 1-800, the letter A and the word FAMILY; 800-232-6459.

Let's go ahead and get back to Dr. John Maxwell on today's "Focus on the Family."

End of Program Note

John M.: The second thing I know about people is that nobody … nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. The second thing I know about people is that nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. In other words, people don't want to know how smart you are. They don't want to know how smart I am. They don't want to know all the good things. The only thing they really want to know from us, first of all, is, "Does that person really love me?"

Now, when are we gonna learn that? I know there are a lot of Sunday school teachers here tonight. How many Sunday school teachers are in the auditorium? Raise your hand real high. My goodness! There are hundreds of Sunday school teachers! Now I know you have curriculum and you have material that you use. And you know what I'm always wondering?I'm always wondering when are they gonna give you some material that tells you the most important thing? I'm still waiting for a certain curriculum to say something and I haven't found one yet. Let me tell you about it.

You see, you have material--good material--teaches you how to do lessons, has good visual aids. You have all kind of tools that you use. I think that is absolutely wonderful. But I wonder when somebody 's gonna walk along Sunday school teachers and tell them something--the most important thing they'll ever tell a Sunday school teacher and that is, more important than the lesson that you teach is the life that you lead.

More important than all the visual aids that tell the kids in your class that God loves them is when you and I as Sunday school teachers or pastors or Christian leaders, when you and I stand before our people and not tell people that God loves them, but show the love of God through our lives. You see, people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Let me prove the point. When I grew up in Sunday school, I had three Sunday school teachers that have made a lasting impression in my life. Now I want to say something about all three teachers. All three teachers, I cannot remember one lesson that they ever taught in a Sunday school class. If you had come to me and said, "John, if these three people made such a great impression on your life, tell me what they told you," I couldn't tell you the lesson that they taught.

You see, I don't remember the lesson they taught, but I do remember the love that they gave. Let me talk to you about Katie. Katie was my second-grade Sunday school teacher. She was incredible. She loved us and when we were sick, she'd come to see us. I'd be sick and she'd come to visit me, and she'd say, "Oh, Johnny Maxwell, I missed you last Sunday in church! Oh," she said, "I wanted to see how you were doing!" And we'd talk a while and she'd put a whole bunch of love on me.

And then she'd reach in her purse and she'd give me a five-cent trinket that I thought was worth a million dollars and say, "Oh, Johnny, I hope you can come to Sunday school next Sunday, because we missed you so much last week. In fact, would you do me a favor?" "What's that, Katie?" "Would you do me a favor? When you go to Sunday school class next Sunday, when you sit there, you know, we have a lot of kids."

And we had a lot of kids in that second-grade class. In fact, Katie Hutchinson averaged 49 second graders in her class. She'd say, "Johnny," and said, "when you get in the class next Sunday, I want to make sure I see you, 'cause I really teach better when you're there." So, she said, "When I get up to teach, would you just raise your hand and kind of wave to me? And I'll see you and I'll smile and I'll feel better and I'll teach better."

Sunday morning comes. I'm in bed, sick unto death (Laughter), Asiatic flu, German measles. Do you ever notice we always blame our diseases on another country? (Laughter) I'm sick unto death, but about 8:30, I'm out of bed. And my parents say, "Johnny, what are you doing?" "I'm going to Sunday school." "What do you mean you're going to Sunday school?" "I got to go to Sunday school." "What do you mean you got to go to Sunday school?" "I got to go to Sunday school because Katie's waiting on me."

And I'd go to class and Katie would finally get up to teach. And when she'd get up to teach, I'd sit real straight up: (Whisper) "Katie! Katie! I'm here! Go ahead! (Laughter) It's okay. Go ahead!" She'd smile and nod and teach. As I look back on that experience in second grade with Katie, every Sunday when Katie would get up to teach, there'd be half a dozen kids (Laughter) [who] raised their hand and say, "Hey, Katie, I'm here! (Whisper) Go ahead! Go ahead!"

The Sunday school superintendent came over one day and said, "We're gonna divide the second-grade class." He'd read some book that you grow by dividing. (Laughter) You don't grow by dividing; you grow by loving. You all right out there? And he looked at the class and he said, "Okay, we've got a classroom right across the hall. How many of you second graders will leave Katie's class and come on over here to the new Sunday school class that we have for you second graders?"

And not one kid raised their hand. We sat in our Sunday school chairs and we said, "I shall not be moved." (Laughter) We had the first sit-down strike in the whole church. Why? I'll tell you why: because people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care and we knew that Katie really cared for us.

My second favorite Sunday school teacher was Roy Rogers, not the. (Laughter) [He] taught fourth-grade boys. I don't remember anything Roy Rogers taught us, but I'll tell you what, on Saturdays he'd get us in the station wagon; he'd go around, pick us all up, throw us in the back of the station wagon with our baseball bats and our gloves. And we'd go out to Ted Lewis Park and he'd teach us how to bat. And he'd teach us how to steal second. He'd teach us how to make double plays. And we'd roll around in the dirt all day and have the best time playing ball with Roy.

And he'd put us back in the station wagon and we'd go up North Cork Street in Circleville, Ohio, and we'd stop at the Dairy Queen and he'd buy us a foot-long hot dog with sauce and a big chocolate milk shake. Loved Roy Rogers! (Laughter)

But the teacher that showed me more than anybody else--nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care--was my seventh-grade boys' teacher named Glen Leatherwood. Now, there was a teacher. First of all, let's talk about seventh-grade boys. (Laughter)

Woman: Let's not!

John M.: I love it! A lady clear back, halfway back, said, "Let's not talk about seventh-graders!" (Laughter) First of all, let me just take a poll: Are there any seventh-grade boys' teachers here? Yes, I see that hand. Are there any others? (Laughter) I saw four or five hands. You can't tell from where you're seated, but you ought to have seen the expression on their face[s]. They look a little dazed. (Laughter) You see, seventh-grade boys' teachers, they just kind of one day leave their class and go to be with Jesus. (Laughter) You go to a seventh-grade boys' teacher and you sit down with a seventh-grade boys' teacher and you talk to them about Daniel in the lions' den and they'll say, "Big deal!" (Laughter)

And we had one of those seventh-grade boys' classes and I'm telling you; they were a rowdy bunch. I many, many times was ashamed of the whole group. (Laughter) You're a smart crowd, aren't you, huh? (Laughter) Nothing passes you folks up here. Well, you know how seventh-grade boys are: wiggly, squirmy, talking, fightin', doin' everything, but listening. And Glen would sit up there and he'd teach that class and we'd be just as squirrelly as possible.

But I want to tell you something. There was a time in Glen when he would teach, almost every Sunday, when every boy'd quit squirming and fasten their eyes on Glen Leatherwood. You see, there would be a time when Glen's voice would break and when Glen's voice broke, every one of us knew that he was about to tell us how much he loved us. And even seventh-grade boys will quit squirming when somebody wants to put some special love on 'em.

One day his voice began to break and every kid kind of turned around and looked up at Glen. And he looked at us and tears were just streaming. And he said, "Right after the class, I have something special for four of you boys." He said, "As soon as the class is over, I'd like to see Steve Banner and Phil Conrad and Junior Fowler and John Maxwell. just for a second. I've got something great to tell you."

After that class we went over down in the basement of East Ohio Street in Circleville, Ohio, and Glen Leatherwood got around us. And I'll never forget. He got down around us on his knees and he put his arms around us and he said, "Let me tell you something, fellas."

He said, "You know, every Saturday night I pray for the class. Every Saturday night I go through every name of every boy in my seventh-grade class. Last night," he said, "while I was going through every name," he said, "I felt God tell me that you four boys were going to be called into the ministry. And I wanted to be the first one to tell you." And he gathered us real close to him and he said, "I also wanted to be the first to lay hands on you and pray for you."

And down in that corner basement of that church, this godly Sunday school teacher layman laid his hand upon my head and gave me that night what I have always considered to be my official ordination into the ministry. By the way, Junior Fowler pastors in Oklahoma; Steve Banner pastors in Ohio; Phil Conrad pastors in Arizona and I pastor in California.

I went back to see the old man a few years ago. He taught junior high boys for over 30 years. And I sat down with him and I told him how he had impacted and influenced my life. And I said, "Glen, do you know how many men are in the ministry today because of your Sunday school class?" And the old man looked at me and said, "John, I'm not sure, but," he said, "I know for sure that there are over 30 men in the ministry today that were called to preach out of my Sunday school class." You see, nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.


John F.: We're about halfway through a "Focus on the Family" presentation from Dr. John Maxwell, which he called "Five Things I Know About People." And we'll continue this presentation next time.

Jim: John, we've only gotten through two of those five things so far on today's program. Those two were, everybody wants to be somebody and nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. I've heard that one before. I think John Maxwell coined that and it is a beautiful phrase. Those observations are so true and they resonate with all of us. In our hearts, we long for those two things.

And if you can help another person understand that they're important just by showing them you care, then there's no end to the good you can do in a person's life. God does that for us, I think each and every moment. And as Christians, we should be doing that for each other. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as youare doing."It's a charge we should all be following and I'm not sure why it's so difficult today. Maybe it's the pace of life.

But here at Focus on the Family, we are striving to invest in the lives of others by strengthening marriage and families and pointing people to the Lord, to point them to a relationship with Jesus Christ. We get e-mails and phone calls every day from people who need to know someone cares about them. And we're here to lift you up and help you through those difficult times or even just to answer your questions. That's our heart for you and I hope you'll take advantage of it.

Partnering with us in this ministry pursuit is a great way to let someone know you care. Together last year, over 250,000 people accepted Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. I'm really pleased with that. About 120,000 marriages were saved. So, again, invest in the ministry. Be a part of this great harvest that is taking place through the family. When you donate today, as our way of saying thank you for your generous gift, I want to send you the CD of this message from Dr. John Maxwell.

John F.: Contribute to the ministry of Focus today and get your CD copy of this message from Dr. John Maxwell. The starting point, or call 1-800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

We also have Dr. Maxwell's book available, Winning With People, which takes an in-depth look at building and strengthening relationships by understanding who the other person is and what they've experienced. Ask for that when you get in touch with us.

And then as we close, let me share a letter we received from a woman named Carolyn. She writes, "I've listened to your program from the time our two girls were children. Now they and their children are benefitting from your programs and books and CDs and DVDs. You've been ministering to us for generations and now that my husband has recently passed away, your information and programs have been a support to me."

Well, we always appreciate hearing from you about the impact of these programs and this ministry. And it is a reminder of how important your support is to help strengthen families.

Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow, as we continue this inspiring message.


Dr. John Maxwell: The moment that you begin to turn and help other people, it will influence other people to help other people. And all of a sudden, you get somethin' goin' that is wonderful and alive and exciting.

End of Excerpt

John F.: More powerful words from Dr. John Maxwell on the next "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly, as we once again, help your family thrive.

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John Maxwell

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John Maxwell is a best-selling author who has sold more than 24 million books in 50 languages. Maxwell was identified as the most popular leadership expert in the world by Inc. Magazine in 2014 and has been voted the top leadership professional six years in a row on He is the founder of several organizations including EQUIP, a non-profit that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 180 countries. Maxwell regularly speaks to Fortune 500 companies, presidents of nations and many of the world's top business leaders. For more information, visit his website