4 Things You Can Learn from the Greatest Mobilizer of All Time

Some of my favorite mentors have been dead for centuries. It’s true. I have learned a lot from great leaders from the past, and you can too.

John Wesley, along with his brother Charles, founded Methodism, a revival movement that swept across Britain and America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Wesley’s theology—and his organizational skill—has inspired countless leaders over the centuries, including me.

This week marks the 312th anniversary of Wesley’s birth (June 17, 1703), but his genius for motivating and mobilizing people is just as relevant today as 300 years ago.

Here are four principles you can learn from one of the greatest minds of his generation.

  1. People Respond to a Big Vision

The key to Wesley’s theology is that God intends to do more in our hearts and lives than even we think is possible. At a time when many were convinced that human potential is limited, Wesley inspired people with a big vision of what the Holy Spirit can do in the life of any person—and people responded in the thousands.

People want to give themselves to something big, something worthwhile. Give them a big vision.

  1. Vision Fails without Strategy

The secret to Wesley’s amazing success as a leader was not his vision alone. He was an organizational genius who invented the large group/small group method of discipleship. His societies (large groups) and class meetings (small groups) knit the movement together.

You must have a clear, practical strategy for accomplishing your vision or it will fail. It’s just that simple!

  1. People Can Grow into Leadership

Wesley was much criticized for using laypeople in leadership, even as preachers. However, he realized that (a) a growing movement needs a fresh supply of leaders, and (b) people can learn, grow, and rise up to accept responsibility.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you must hire good leaders from the outside. Your current team may have more potential than you think.

  1. Everyone Needs Accountability

Wesley’s group system also included what we would today call recovery groups and accountability groups. He realized that people with problems need both support and accountability to recover, and even the highest-level leaders need to know that someone is keeping them accountable.

Welcome accountability in your leadership, and make sure each of your team members has someone to hold him or her accountable.

Who is your favorite leader from a previous era, and what have you learned from them? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook!