Book Review: Leadership Promises For Every Day

Leadership Promises For Every Day:  A Daily Devotional, by John C. Maxwell

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The brand of John Maxwell has in recent years suffered a great deal of erosion in quality, which is perhaps inevitable when an author moves from original and creative writing to, progressively, the combination of formerly disparate materials into omnibus collections [1], and then the repackaging of existing books under a new title to pretend as if they were new books [2].  This book marks a further station along that road, and that is the reformatting of previously published materials for a devotional made up of the author’s familiar and, to some, comforting leadership advice, in the manner of some previous authors [3].  Pretty soon, no doubt, will be the inevitable plundering of a posthumous Maxwell’s notes for the raw material for future books that will keep the gravy train rolling for a few more volumes of feasts of scraps as has happened before to writers like Henri Nouwen and C.S. Lewis, authors, it should be noted, of far more profound and original thinking than Maxwell.  That said, though, this devotional feels right.  For someone who reads far more devotionals than I care to admit [4], this book has the elements of what makes for a good devotional–material that works in small chunks, a strong focus on scripture, easy-to-remember material that is suited to lists and bullet points.  In fact, given the general unevenness of Maxwell’s writings as a whole body of work, this devotional works remarkably well, reminding the reader that 365 small servings of the writer’s thinking is easier to digest and appreciate than, to pick an example not at random, the entirety of the author’s bible [5].

The contents and structure of this book are easy to understand for someone who is familiar with either devotionals or the author’s body of work, or both.  This is a 365-day format for a devotional, so each day takes up one small page, with the date, scriptural quotation (sometimes taking up more than half the page), a short paragraph or two of material, sometimes in bullet or list or chart form, and a citation of where the comment is taken from.  Almost all of the devotionals are taken from previously written works, showing that the author has largely given up on original writing at this point in his career, but while there is a bit of repetition in the way material is covered and the author is a bit too fond of oversimplification, there is a lot of value here and those who like reading what Maxwell has to say about the importance of leaders and their character will find a great deal to appreciate here.  After the twelve months of material there are a few pages left blank except for lines so that the reader, if he or she chooses, can write notes on the material contained in the book.

This is a book that delivers exactly what it sets out to do.  It slices and dices Maxwell’s writing in such a way that it focuses on biblical essentials, making this perhaps the most Christian of any book I have read by the author.  The book has no intellectual pretensions, has no embarrassments like praising the corrupt executives of Enron, and if it is not an original book in any way, it is at least a pleasing book.  This is a crowd-pleaser, the book version of a best-of compilation from someone who has been writing books for decades, and this is the sort of book that one can get for a friend who is interested in Christian leadership principles without any hint of awkwardness or discomfort.  There is little if any likelihood that there will be anything the author or anyone else will feel embarrassed about in coming years, as the material is fairly straightforward elucidation of Bible-based leadership lessons of the kind that any minister would be happy to give in a sermon or Bible study.  And as much as I might want to, I can find little fault in it except for the fact that it shows an author and his literary estate looking to print new books without having new material to share, and and at this stage one ought to expect nothing but leftovers from this author.  Good leftovers are still something to enjoy, even as leftovers.


[2] See, for example:

[3] See, for example:

[4] See, for example:


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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