Best-selling author of 16 books, Sought-after leadership expert and Christian speaker John Bevere shares about the importance of finding strength and purpose in your wilderness.
On today’s show, we interview a man who has written 21 books and a dude who has sold over 10 million copies of his books. And on today’s show, John Bevere or breaks down his process for writing best selling books. And he walks us through how he spends the first four hours of each and every one of his days. And he talks about finding strength and purpose in your wilderness. Ladies and gentlemen, with any further ado, it’s John Bevere.
Yes, yes, yes. Oh yes, thrive nation. Welcome back to another exciting edition of the thrive time show on your radio and podcast download. And guess who is here. It is none other than Mr. John Bevere. Mr John Bevere welcome onto the show. How are you sir?
I’m doing so well. You guys are terrific. I’ve had so much fun talking to everybody on your team.
Well, we are. I have recently tone down the amounts of steroids and pre-workout that we take before every show. So there’ll be less exciting starting next week. We’re just tapering off right now. Just trying to taper it off. But I, I’m so excited to interview you because a, you’re sort of a mythological, I grew up in a Christian home and I’ve heard so much about you and, uh, I got to ask you, you and your wife had been married over 30 years. You, you wouldn’t Miss Lisa there and, uh, you appear to be getting younger. She’s getting much younger. You appear to be getting younger. Are you drinking a lot of fish oil?
You know, we are. I think that’s, I think that in the olive oil up it might be helping, but you know, honestly, I just think it’s being in the will of God. I think it is. And, and you know, I’m turning 60 here in one month. Wow. And to me, it’s just a number. I feel like I’m 35 years old, honestly.
Well, I’m up now. Here’s my understanding is that, you know, you’ve obviously gone on to be a bestselling author and a lot of people know your name, but I’d love to start off it at the very bottom or, or the very beginning. Could you talk to us about, um, how you started out working as a youth pastor, I believe, right?
Yeah, sure did. I started as a youth pastor and that lasted two years. My own pastor looked at me and said, I really believe God wants you to travel and speak. And so we started doing that. And then, um, I’m in prayer one day God said, son, I want you to write. And that kind of laughed. I said, writing is my worst subject in high school. I basically scored three 70 on the sat and English. And I said, God, you’ve obviously got so many kids are getting this mixed up one another. You’ve got the wrong person. And I didn’t do anything. And I remember 10 months later, two women from two different states came to me within two weeks and said, John Bevere, if you don’t write what God’s given you to write, he’s going to give the messages to somebody else and you’ll one day you’re going to give an account for it. And I remember when the second woman said it, two weeks later after the first I, the fear of God hit me and I said, okay, I’m going to write. And now the books are in the tens of millions in there in 111 languages.
I know it is because I’m the one that’s saying, wow, the allow us allowed us, because if you would’ve told me 30 years ago that God would send me to the nations of the world through books, I would have laughed you out of the room.
Yeah. All right, so all joking aside, what was it like to go out there and start your own organization, your own thing? Because a lot of our listeners out there, I mean 67% of Americans want to start a business. And so many of our listeners out there have actually started the company or, or they want to, or they’ve started an organization or they want to, what was it like going out there and starting your own thing?
Oh yeah. I mean, I think our whole income the first year, uh, was right around $40,000 that had to pay our salary and run the ministry. And now, I mean, I think we believed God for 140, 40,000 a week. So, you know, back then it was actually more interesting. I never lost 30 seconds of sleep over it. We just continue to do what God put in our heart. We were smart with our finances and we handled it well. And now today, I mean, it’s, it’s just amazing. We’ve, we’ve been able to give away 21.3 million resources to pastors and leaders in 98 nations all over the world. And what we do is we give the, you know, resources books to pastors in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, China, um, you know, all these places all over the world. And it’s just been amazing to me how millions and millions of dollars have come in to give books to these guys. And now we have a team of about 45. And, uh, it’s just, it’s just wonderful watching how God provides when you’re obedient to God. He provides, it’s just, it’s just amazing to me.
I would ask this next question using a megaphone. So it’s nice and subtle. So here we go.
What do you mean by being a smart, with your money? Being smart with your money? I think a lot of people don’t understand what you mean there. So that’s my subtle question with a megaphone.
Okay. Love that megaphone effect. Um, anyway, um, I feel that, you know, God, first of all, you know, we’ve never based our decisions, our finances, we base our decisions off of what God’s putting in a heart. Um, I remember when I first told our guys that, hey, we’re going to give away 250 books or 250,000 books to pastors and leaders overseas next year. The whole room went silent and my wife said she tasted threw up in her mouth, but yet, um, I remember three weeks later out of the blue, a guy called and said, I heard it through the grapevine. You want to give books to pastors, here’s a check for $300,000. And so we never made money the issue as far as what we’re doing, but we have tried to be very prudent, pretty in the sense of, uh, spending wisely, um, you know, find believing for deals. I’m using the equipment that is efficient, good, but not extravagant, if that makes sense. Yeah. We’ve just tried to make smart business decisions and so it’s worked well for us. You know, over the past 30 years.
You’d recommend giving and then a set percentage?
Well, I mean, we’re an eight unclean dollar a year organization and we probably give away two and a half million a year. That’s just for the books overseas. And all that stuff. Yeah. I always, you know, I mean I have always right from the beginning set aside 10% that goes, that is given away. But then we’ve done so much more. Like I said, I mean last year alone, I think we did around 2.4 million just in books to pastors and leaders overseas. Um, that’s not counting the other 800,000 to a million that we gave to other ministries like missionaries in Africa and stuff like that. So, uh, to be honest with you, the more we’ve given, the more blessed week become, and it’s just, it’s, you know, the world of the generous, the Bible says gets larger and larger. Their heat, there’s he who sows much but has nothing, no lack. And there’s he who withholds more than needed, but he tends to poverty. So it’s, you know, I, I really believe that. I really believe God wants us to do things in excellence. I believe that we’re representing the King of the universe. When I did a Bible study, the West Wing of the White House for the president a few years back.
how they represented him and I realized I’m representing the King of the universe. So you know, we’re not, we’re going to do things with excellence. Um, and you know, that’s just been our real passion.
That was George Bush, George Bush. It was wonderful. Actually. I think Andrew had been told not to come near the White House is probably what I’ve been told. You’ve written 16 books and you obviously have a process for doing this or a processed or some sort of plan. Can you walk us through what does it look like and where do you like to physically sit down and begin writing a book?
Well, every book that I’ve written now is 21 bucks. Um, everyone and you know, one of them’s a USA today bestseller. Um, my wife has her book, She’s got a book that hit the New York Times. I haven’t hit the New York Times, so I always like to say I’m married to a New York Times bestseller. But every book that I’ve written, all 21, they’ve been, I think 18 of them have been international bestsellers. And I think 19 of them, if I’m not mistaken, have been CBA, bestsellers, national bestsellers. Um, but it’s because it’s common prayer. Um, I, I made it, I made a vow to God that I would not write a book unless he spoke to me. And I remember one time I went in the 30 years I’ve been writing, well actually has it been 30? Yes. And in the 27 years I’ve been writing, um, I actually went through a four year span where God just said nothing.
And I remember, you know, cause all my royalties all go to the ministry. Um, as far as from publishers. So we have made out to the ministry. And, uh, I remember my administrator came in, my CFO, excuse me, and he said, John Bevere, if you just signed the dotted line, I mean the ministry’s going to have a lot of money for advance royalties. And I looked at him and I said, but God hasn’t spoken to me to write a book. So, um, I, first of all, I always make sure God tells me to do it. And then what I usually do is I do a lot of research and let it and meditate in me. I’d meditate on it for like a month. I’d have like just, just, just bring in all kinds of, of just scripture background information, uh, research on history and all of that. Then what I do is I get a paper calendar and I pick 15 to 20 days in a month and I mark those days and on those days I can’t do anything, uh, until I write a thousand words.
So I don’t do any office work and emails and social media, any contact with friends until that thousand words of is written. And I just spew it all out, get it down on the computer, and then the next writing day I go in and start shaping those first thousand words, you know, editing, doing a rough edit. Then I’ll write a new thousand words. Then the next day I’ll come in, do the first thousand, then the second thousand, then I write another thousand. And I keep doing that. So every chapter I’ve gone over eight to 12 times before the chapters even finished. And then when I’m halfway through the book, I go through all the chapters that I’ve written and make sure that they, they’re flowing well together. And then I’ll start with the second half. And then when I get to go where I know it’s the very last chapter, I’ll go back and write the first chapter, then I’ll write the last chapter and then I’ll go through the entire book again very meticulously. So there’s four to four to 500 hours of work in every book.
And would you sit down to write a book? I’ve written in there airplanes.
I’ve written in hotel rooms. I’ve written everywhere I’ve written in, in whole foods. I’ve written you coffee shops. I can, I have this. It’s this. It’s the gift that most men have. We can shut everything out and go into our, our box and our brain and just focus in on it. So, um, noise never bothers me.
Where are you now finding strength and purpose in the wilderness? What first inspired you to write this book?
You know, when I became a Christian, the thing that was overwhelming to me, cause I got saved in my fraternity in college, I played varsity tennis at Purdue University. I was a fraternity boy. And you know, even though I was raised in church, I had no relationship with God. And one of my fraternity brothers who was a phenomenal athlete, probably one of the best athletes in the state of Indiana at the time he was in my fraternity, he came and shared with me and it all clicked. And I remember that night, it was January of 1979 so 40 years ago, um, I, I gave Jesus Christ my entire life. And what was overwhelming to me was the presence of God to me, that that is more important than anything in life. And I remember the first few years is just overwhelming. I go to a service to start weeping.
I remember seeing a thunderstorm build in the distance and I would just start weeping and think my dad created all of that. Um, and then what happened is after about three years, I remember I th the presence of God seemed elusive to me and the promises, the personal promises he made to me, it seemed like I was going backward. And, um, I started wondering, have I sin? What have I done? Something wrong if I disobeyed God. And a lot of time was spent crying out. God, you know, where’s your presence? And as you know, the Bible talks about is omnipresent. That’s where he says, I’ll never leave you nor forsake you. But his manifest presence, that’s when he reveals himself to us, to our senses, to our mind. That presence was elusive. And I remember reading this verse in job were jokes said, look, I go forward and he’s not there and backward.
I cannot perceive him when he works on my left hand. I cannot the hold him. And I realized, wow, God was working on job’s behalf, but he couldn’t perceive him. So what I like to say is the wilderness is when God seems like he’s a million miles away in the promises these made to us, or even further. If you look at every major man and woman of God in the Bible that was successful and finished well, they all went through a wilderness season. If you look at David, he’s anointed to be king, but then the boss that God put him under King Saul, you know, David ends up living in caves and deserts for 14 years. If you look at Joseph, he gets a dream. You’re going to be a leader in your brothers will serve you. It’d be under your leadership and for the next 10 years he’s, he says, he goes into a pit and slavery.
If you look at Moses, he’s in the backside of the desert for 40 years. If you look at Jesus, he gets filled with the spirit, but he’s immediately led by the spirit into the wilderness, but he goes in the park, he goes and filled with the spirit and he comes out in the power. If you look at John the Baptist, he trained 30 years for a six month ministry. So I realized, I started realizing they’re wildernesses where it places, but our wildernesses in the soul. God, what’s going on? Why aren’t you moving like you used to on my behalf? And so many people go through this and clay and they don’t, they don’t know what’s going on. They don’t realize that God has not left them. They think, oh gosh, what have I done? What if I’d done wrong? Why has God leaving me? He’s not leaving you.
He’s preparing you. So we think here’s the, here’s the common thoughts that people think when we go into the wilderness. This is what I, I was thinking, okay, number one, if I disobeyed God, no I didn’t. I searched and searched. Number two, have I done something wrong? No, I did. Number three was I put on the shelf until God needed me. No. God is the one that tells us to redeem the time. So why would he ever waste our time by putting us on a shelf? So the whole deal is, is that God will make us promises like he did with Joseph, like he did with David, but then comes the wilderness and the wilderness is the time where God prepares us to have the character to handle the calling that he’s called us to. And once we successfully navigate that wilderness, then he brings us into the fulfilled promise.
And that’s what I realized after a long, long stent and I’m talking months and these wildernesses and it wasn’t just one, it was a couple. I remember the first one was 18 months, the second one was 18 months to oddly enough, but the second one made the first one look like child’s play. And what I look back now and realize is that it wasn’t a place of punishment. It wasn’t a place I was put on the shelf. It was a place of preparation. God was preparing me to have the character to handle what he had called me to do. If you look at King Saul, he never had a wilderness. He had a false humility. He’s like, Oh, who am I that the senior prophet of Israel should speak to me when his name is called at the National Assembly. He’s hiding in the equipment, but he has his first victory and he builds a monument to himself.
So he doesn’t have that character. But if you look at David, David goes through this 12 years of living in deserts in case, but even if David made mistakes, his heart never left God, what was most important to David? All his life was not as throne, not as position. It was his relationship with God. And I have seen so many people go into ministry and what happens is they fall in love with the popularity of ministry, the success of ministry, the limelight of the stage, and they lose their relationship with Jesus. And I’m going to tell you, clay, one thing I said to God right from the beginning is I will never, ever, ever allow ministry to take it. Take the place of my relationship with you. I started out in love with you. Jesus. I want to end more in love with you. And God took me at my word.
I prayed. I said, God, I never ever want what you call me to do to Trump, the character that you’ve developed in me. Another words, I don’t want to have insufficient character to handle the magnitude of the calling that you’ve placed on me. And I told my four sons, I said, that’s probably one of the wisest prayers I prayed when I was the most stupid. You know, we’re so stupid sometimes when we’re young and yet god led me to pray that prayer and he’s answered it. And so I’ve gone through wildernesses is much as in my fifties because why? Because God was preparing me for another level of authority in the ministry.
I can’t thank you enough for being on the show. And I know whenever someone buys a book, you might actually see a dollar or two of its, I’m going to have to pay at least a dollar or two for being on the show. So Andrew buy a copy of the book right now on Amazon so we can see a verified purchase coming through. Again, the book is, God, where are you now finding strength and purpose in the wilderness? Where, but Andrew are you work at Andrew’s buying a copy right now and I think I have time for one more question for you, sir. You crosses a very intentional man, a and a guy prize, a lot of demands on your time. A Lotta uh, odd ducks like me. Love to have you on to interview you. People want to have you come speak. There’s just a lot of people coming at you. How do you design the first four hours of your day and what time do you wake up each day?
Usually I get up, that’s a really good question. Usually I get up at 5:00 AM every once in a while I’ll go to five 30, five 40, but it’s usually 5:00 AM and the first thing I do is I open up my Bible and I found my head and I say, Holy Spirit, I can’t understand the word of God without your help. You’re my teacher. Please reveal Jesus to me. I’ll spend time in the scripture, then a play and then, um, I’ll, I’ll, you know, the time comes, it’s about eight o’clock. My wife’s out of bed. She’s up and we’ll spend time together or I’m on to the office or something else. But I usually try to make sure those first two hours in the morning are really quiet and focused in on him. I don’t really want to start a day without having that time with him. So I mean that does it happen every single day of my life?
It happens most of the days. I mean, there are times when I’ve got a 6:00 AM flight that I’ve got to catch, you know, to get somewhere and I don’t get the ability to do that, but I’m somehow trying to figure it out, whether it’s on my phone with my headphones, listening to the youversion of the Bible and just listening to a few chapters that way. Or listening to a podcast, like someone like Chris Hodges or, or, uh, you know, Robert Morris speak the word of God or Jensen and Franklin. Just, just constantly building myself first thing in the morning because I find that really shapes my day.
Yeah, you, uh, had a great time and I know you have to get back to doing what you do. Okay. Thank you so much,
especially the, especially the megaphone questions.
Well, here’s the thing. I have a megaphone. I literally have a megaphone in my man cave studio here, and so you know, who am I to have Amanda Cave in and have a megaphone and not use it? And I didn’t, you know, we even any cow bell, but there we go. Got Some cowbell in, into,
let’s see. That’s great. I love it, man. You are so much fun. I really enjoyed being with you.
Hey, well I appreciate you and everybody go out there and check out John Bevere’s newest book, my friend. Have a great, yeah, and now without any further ado, hello.
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