This Sunday being Father’s Day, my team requested that I write a blog post on the word “father.”

While that may seem like an obvious idea, there’s a deeper meaning to that word for me personally—since 2017, the word “father” has been my life word.

You see, for years—decades, really—I have prayed for and selected a word that would lead me to live intentionally throughout the calendar year. I’ve chosen words or phrases that would spur my thinking and my actions to be in alignment with the kind of life I want to live.

Some years the word was intensely personal, usually because I had a lot of growing to do in a specific area. Other years, the word was more about others and how I needed to add value to people in new ways.

But “father” is different.

I thought it would be a one-year word, a gentle reminder to see and connect with people with even greater care and wisdom. But one year turned into two, and I began to understand that some people don’t need care and wisdom—they need a dose of reality to get them moving!

Then, two years became three.

This is my third year with the word “father” as the central piece of my thinking and reflection, and I’ve become more convinced it may be my word for the rest of my life.

Part of that sense comes from the work I’m doing with my team. We’re experiencing a season of significance unlike anything I’ve ever seen—the culmination of their tireless work over the years and miles of this leadership journey. We are collectively seeing a harvest on seeds we’ve sown at times and in places when we weren’t sure there’d ever be a return.

The joy and fulfilment of reaping those rewards with the many wonderful people I’ve worked and coached alongside is deeper and richer than I could’ve dreamed. Fatherhood, in this instance, is fun.

But there’s also the flipside of being a “father” to many, and I’m reminded of it whenever I visit places where people are desperate for training in values and leadership. More and more, people are asking for help in transforming themselves and their communities, and more and more I find my heart and my passion drawn to help them.

I want to be a guide; be a friend; be a teacher; be a mentor.

But what I really want to be is a “father”.

“Father” is about adding value differently, which means I am constantly stretching myself in new ways. Just like when my kids were growing up, and I had to change tactics or reset my thinking, I’m finding that being a “father” to many means constantly adjusting how I approach life.

My thinking is deeper, bigger, more inclusive, more defined; as a result, my dreams are larger and more significant than I ever imagined because they are dreams for other people.

That’s what it means to be a “father”. That’s what my dad did for me—he dreamed big dreams on my behalf and then loaned me his belief to chase dreams of my own. I am blessed that he’s still with me; this will be our 72nd Father’s Day together, and every year reminds me of how wonderful it is to have my father’s love and investment.

It also reminds me to pay that kind of love forward.

In that way, the biggest gift of a “father” is to pour into others what is valuable and good and helpful and challenge them to repeat the process with others. The influence of a father can either build or destroy, and our world needs more of the former. We have more than enough of the latter.

My challenge to you this Father’s Day is to add value to someone else. Invest in them, encourage them, challenge them; loan them your belief in their potential, and then equip them to do something amazing with it.

I’ve seen firsthand how that kind of intentional investment changes families, as well as changes the world.

Happy Father’s Day to you, wherever you are. Whether you’re celebrating or being celebrated, make it a day to remember—make it a day that you choose to add value to others and make a difference to those around you.


  1. Armando Jose Gomez on June 11, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Happy Fathers Day to you also Dr. John Maxwell. Thanks for always inspiring me to do better as I serve my family,colleagues and the community at large. God bless you always.

    • Tim Dickenson on June 14, 2019 at 11:54 am

      Happy Father’s Day! Thanks for sharing this encouraging word from John Maxwell.

    • Christine Nicole Schaubert on June 16, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Thanks so much, John. You are truly a great father and faithful friend. I count it a true privilege to be a member of your team, a bearer of your name, and one of the “legs of your legacy.” Happy Father’s Day!

  2. SJ White on June 11, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    John, I first learned about leadership training from a DVD series of yours I watched titled, Developing the Leader within you. At the time I was in Federal Prison in charge of the Chapel Video library where I took full advantage of the opportunity to learn all I could about leadership. After my release, I continued on with my studies and used those principles to rebuild my life. Glad to say, they worked extremely well. Today (many years later) there is not a day that goes by I’m not listening, reading, and or, writing about the power of leadership training. Now retired, I”‘ve dedicated my life to helping others who are trying to rebuild their lives. On my website, I share these principles in the form of blogs. As the new kid on the block, I was elated when my latest post, “The Power of Faith,” grabbed hold of hearts and minds. Born a bastard child, I never had a father, but I’ve certainly enjoyed being one, and the leadership training I first received from you has an awful lot to do with the success of my children.
    Thank you, my friend, for helping me become the dad I always wished I had.

    • KR on June 23, 2019 at 12:46 am

      What a great testimony!

  3. Stephen Paul Gazama on June 11, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    John’s descriptive words perfectly captures the true sense of “FATHERHOOD.” And that has inspired me to take the challenge to add value to others by doing exactly what John says: invest, encourage, challenge…equip them to do something amazing with their potential. Thanks John.

  4. Cheryl Thomas on June 11, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Bless your John Maxwell! You teach us well.. I’ll replace “father” with “Mother”…and do my best to be a friend like you…. your writings inspire me daily

  5. Christina Rose on June 13, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    Great words John! I am part of your team having been certified in 2016 and in mentorship – my sister and I both attended. Our father took his life when I was 21 and my husband left when my children were young – so I very much appreciate the supportive male mentors in my life who help to fill a huge void. Father leaders are more valuable than you can imagine – thanks for being you! We love you, Christina Rose

  6. General Patton on June 14, 2019 at 10:38 am

    You are a good man John Maxwell

  7. Gary Walter on June 14, 2019 at 10:43 am

    To understand, then act out being a Father, we walk in lots of different shoes before being accepted in our words.

  8. bryan ranchero on June 14, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Being a father is actually the greatest job description every I had, The success is with in the boundaries of our home. A provider, supportive, discipline, rules and regulation start while they are young and established that principles by establishing their own faith, values with in . I have 3 boys and 1 adoptive boy the oldest and now I can actually see the product of hard work and dedication night and day. “a 24 hours on call”. But respect to (mother) woman is the number one priority in my house. As we grow together while kids having their own family still got that connection with them about simple small things. I will adapt more kids if financially available.

  9. sampathkumar iyengar on June 14, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Dear John, Thanks for an inspiring post and wish you and your team members a happy father’s day

  10. Bob Williamson on June 14, 2019 at 11:53 am

    A wonderful message that will cultivate change within me and inspire me to the same with those around me. Thanks for taking time to write this.

  11. Linda De Long on June 16, 2019 at 11:43 am

    Thank you John. These were powerful words. You described exactly how my father looked at being a dad, not just to me and my younger brother, but to all that he worked with and the main ingredient that I miss today, is his ability to coach me through the trials and tribulations of life. He did great work and when I struggle on anything, I just imagine what and how he would offer his advise, mostly through the power of questions. Great post! Happy Father’s day to you to share these wonderful words of wisdom!

  12. Dawda sambou on June 16, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Is beautiful and really nice, you’ve inspired me and I am also following your for steps daily. You are a mentor teacher and a father to me because you added value in my.

  13. Mirabel on June 16, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    Happy fathers’ day dear John Maxwell. You’re a true blessing and a father figure in my life. God richly bless you for all you do.

  14. Peter Antognoni on June 18, 2019 at 6:55 am

    Ah, the lesson of investment in others passed onto you from your Father rather than only desiring to invest in ourselves!
    What a wonderful Spirit of Truthfulness from the teachings of Christ leading towards a practical and authentic positivity that’s beckons forth whenever we do just that for others.
    I fondly remember meeting you at Congress 2000 in Boston after your time spent investing your God given wisdoms with our audience there.
    May God keep you in the palm of His hand for a good while to come while you reach people with that much needed lesson in today’s culture.
    You ARE a wonderful example of the kind of “return on investment” that pleases God!

  15. […] learned this from his own father’s influence. In a blog post, he wrote, “That’s what my dad did for me – he dreamed big dreams on my behalf and then […]

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