Planting Seeds: Cultivating Integrity, Focus, & Leadership with Kevin Wayne Johnson
What does success mean to you? Is it a certain lifestyle? Holding a position of leadership and influence over others? Providing for your family? Whatever your answer may be, what will it take for you to attain that success?
This week’s Publishing Secrets guest, Kevin Wayne Johnson, is well-acquainted with success, but it isn’t something that just fell into his lap overnight. Rather, the opportunities he has received are the result of diligently working toward his calling with integrity, focus, servant leadership, and humility. Let Kevin’s story inspire you to persevere – to do your homework, plant your seeds, and see what God will grow.
In this episode, you’ll also hear:
- How Kevin came to recognize his call to write for the Lord
- The characteristics of good leadership and how to raise up excellent leaders
- Three major components of success – no matter what “success” means to you personally
- How to find and maintain a balance between ministry and business
- Kevin’s advice for the author who wants to believe their dreams are possible, but isn’t sure how to make them happen
Be sure to read all the way to the end for important links and information!
When most people think of making money as a Christian author, they think exclusively of writing and publishing a paperback book, or maybe an ebook. But while these are certainly great options, they are by no means the only ways to make money as an author. In fact, there are a number of different ways that you may not have considered. Opportunities abound for those that are willing to put in the work, and if you recognize and pursue these opportunities, you can increase your impact, influence, and income substantially.
So what are these opportunities, and where can you find them? Kevin Johnson had those same questions, and with God’s help, he has been able to accomplish truly inspiring things. And, as a leadership expert, he has the words to help you figure out how to move forward.
So grab your pen and paper, take some notes – and most importantly, take action.
The Call to Write for the Lord
Kevin was working for the federal government when he started to feel God’s call on his life. He describes it as a sort of pull, a strong desire to preach God’s word. But it took some time before that call was confirmed.
During that time, Kevin started writing articles related to his government work, and those articles started getting national attention. Then, when a high-ranking official read one of his articles and asked him to testify before Congress on a pending bill, Kevin realized that his writing was truly making a difference. So, in response, he decided to use that talent for the Lord.
From there, Kevin set off on his writing journey by self-publishing his first book, Give God the Glory!, and establishing his own business, appropriately named Writing for the Lord Ministries. “I did it myself,” Kevin recalls. “I didn’t know any other authors, didn’t have a mentor, didn’t have an agent – didn’t know anything about it, other than I just wanted people to understand and acknowledge that God Almighty loves us, and He has a plan and purpose for us. And that’s literally how my writing journey got started.”
A few months after attending his first writer’s conference, Kevin was contacted by a Christian distributor who saw potential in his book and wanted to distribute it to Christian bookstores around the country. “And the rest,” as Kevin says, “is history.” Now, 20 years later, both the book and Kevin’s relationship with the company’s then-CEO are still going strong.
Raising the Next Generation of Leaders
Kevin knows he’s not alone. Others are also experiencing that same pull from God, calling them to step into something bigger than they can imagine. That’s why his ministry is all about helping leaders step into their potential.
“I learned a long time ago, it’s about serving people,” Kevin explains. “I’m a firm believer in the fact that God created us to serve people. That’s where true fulfillment comes. All of us are so fulfilled when we do something good for somebody else – not out of obligation, but because it’s genuine, it’s coming from the heart.”
Now that he’s retired, Kevin says he spends roughly 95% of his waking hours finding ways to serve others. As a result, through his ministry and business, he’s able to share his experience and observations with the next generation of leaders, and raise them up to make a positive difference in the world.
Kevin has personally seen examples of both good and bad leadership in the workplace and even in the church. Now, he feels compelled to impart that knowledge to up-and-coming leaders, and also to continue learning himself, because, in his own words, “leaders are learners.”
Through this ministry, Kevin has found satisfaction and fulfillment like never before. “It’s been a phenomenal journey,” he says. “As you can see, I’m still smiling. I love what I do. And I think that’s where we’re trying to get people to: we want people to love what they do. Because it’s work, but it doesn’t feel like work when you’re serving people. And you’re going to bed every night fulfilled, and you’re waking up, and you’re ready to go. And that’s what it’s all about.”
The Mark of True Leadership
When it comes to understanding what qualities make for good leadership, Kevin points to a previous supervisor who presented him with an example of very poor leadership instead. “Interestingly enough,” he says, “when I think back on all of the good supervisors that I had, and the good leaders and the good bosses – which were many – I don’t necessarily remember all of what they did. I just remember that they did a great job. But I remember the bad ones.”
A big part of what Kevin wants future leaders to understand is that their words and actions matter. How we treat people directly impacts how they feel about themselves – and causing people to feel bad about themselves, according to Kevin, can have lifelong repercussions, physically and mentally.
“We want leaders to understand the importance of value and care, respect, honor, and being a person of value that adds value to other people,” Kevin says. “And we don’t get this in school. it has to be taught outside of the boundaries of school.” And because he believes good leadership must be intentionally taught, he’s committed to teaching it, even to people who may not consider themselves leaders – because leadership as Kevin sees it is all about how you interact and communicate with others.
Focus, Perseverance, Humility
If you aspire to do as Kevin has done – to go from being a published author to turning your call into a full-fledged business with more avenues of success beyond just books – Kevin identifies two things you’ll need: perseverance and focus.
“You and I have to have a ‘stick-to-it-ness,’” Kevin explains. “We have to be committed, dedicated, and we have to persevere, to continue on that straight and narrow path. But, equally important, you have to be focused, because no one message, or no one book, is for everybody. You have to be focused on a particular audience.”
For Kevin, that audience includes people in leadership positions ranging from federal and state government to the church to select corporations. But he adds that focus isn’t just about a specific audience – it’s also about how you make yourself available to your audience, how you present yourself through your craft, and how you personally define success.
For some, focusing on success means charging top dollar for every speaking engagement, flying exclusively first class, putting out dozens of best-selling books, and accruing millions of social media followers. For Kevin, it means serving the people who need his message – and being perfectly happy flying coach to get there – cultivating a happy marriage, and raising responsible sons.
Whatever your definition of success may be, Kevin’s story shows us that the way to get there is to clearly identify who you can serve the best – that’s your target audience – and to recognize areas of opportunity to provide what that audience needs. Those opportunities are out there. So the question to ask yourself is: Am I recognizing them? And am I pursuing them?
“That’s why I use the word focus,” Kevin says. “You and I have to be very, very focused as we execute and implement the plan. Because our message, as good as it is, is not for everybody. It’s not going to land in everybody’s lap. But once you identify that target market, and that audience that specifically has a thirst and hunger for your message, it’s literally limitless.”
Finally, Kevin adds one more important quality that contributes to success: humility. Of course, a successful business must make sales, and sales require you to tell others about what you have to offer. But that can certainly be done with humility, trusting in God rather than yourself to open up the doors of opportunity.
Ministry vs. Industry
Many Christian authors see their work as strictly ministry. And because it’s a ministry, they’re not concerned with how much they earn from it, and they may even feel uncomfortable talking about money or charging for their work.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, many Christian authors view their work as a for-profit business. As such, they are shooting for specific income goals, believing that if God enables them to reach those goals, they can use some of the overflow to open up doors and bless others.
Kevin identifies these two spheres as “ministry” and “industry,” and while he does identify a fine line between them, he also believes in keeping a balance of both.
“I’m a firm believer that as a business owner, it’s God Almighty who puts us in a position to earn wealth,” Kevin explains. “That’s scriptural. As long as we keep it in context, and we do the right things with the financial resources that He blesses us with… I think it’s perfectly fine for those of us that understand Scripture and live it to make ourselves available for folks in the secular world who are hungry and who never get it while they’re at work. But just make sure that there’s a good balance between what we’re doing to promote ministry work and what we’re doing with industry.”
Kevin maintains that balance by setting boundaries around who he will and won’t do business with. Whether he has to turn down a company that sells products that don’t align with his principles or church leaders who aren’t operating in integrity, Kevin makes it a point to avoid any appearance of evil in his business dealings.
Furthermore, operating in integrity and humble leadership as an author and business owner yourself means doing your due diligence and researching the opportunities that appear and the plans that you make, to ensure you set out on the right path to take full advantage of the increase God provides.
“Focus is all about delivering in a very outstanding way to every customer that you serve,” Kevin says. “So as an author, your customers are the book buyers. Make sure you’re giving them an excellent product to read, because they will help you then to sell those books exponentially.”
Get Out of Your Own Way
As you work to put it all together – leadership, focus, perseverance, constant learning, humility, and integrity – don’t be afraid to reach for the impossible. As Kevin says, “Go ahead and pursue those goals, dreams, and aspirations, because you own them. They belong to you. And nobody can really stop you, but you.”
That’s an important reminder, because sometimes we can see ourselves as too small, and so we don’t pursue what God has said we can accomplish. In those instances, it’s not other people who are saying we can’t do it – we’re seeing ourselves that way. And that means we’re stopping ourselves. But if we can get out of our own way, so to speak, God can empower us to do truly great things.
Another simple way you can remove obstacles out of your own path is to make it easy for people to find you online. Kevin recommends purchasing a URL that is your own name, so your website will be very easy to find and to identify as yours.
Kevin thinks of all this background work as planting seeds. And he’s had enough personal experience to say with confidence that God does indeed cause those seeds to grow into something way bigger than he could have imagined – and does so way faster than he could have hoped.
Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People
Now, after many years of planting seeds, Kevin is in a place of leadership and influence, where he can see and harvest the fruits of his labor. But maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe you want to believe it’s possible, but you’re struggling, either because others aren’t supporting you or because your own perception of yourself is getting in your way.
If that’s you, Kevin advises that you surround yourself with like-minded people who can encourage and lift you up. “The naysayers will do just that – they not only don’t believe in your dream, but they don’t believe that you have what it takes to fulfill that dream. If you flip that, and your sphere of influence are people who are like-minded, then you’re constantly building each other up. And then, before you know it, you are well on your way.”
Not sure where to find those like-minded people? Check out the Christian Authors Network community on Facebook. There you’ll find fellowship, encouragement, guidance, and more to help you along the way, no matter where you are in your author journey.
Kevin Wayne Johnson has taken up the task of developing individual and organizational operating excellence as his life’s mission. He coaches in order to coax audiences to live out their gifts and awaken their potential. Johnson provides organizations, and the people who work within them, with the tools to forge effective personal and interpersonal communication. He delivers training on the elements of dynamic relationships, to equip teams with the attitudes and attributes needed to develop individuals into leaders. He does so through motivating workshops, interactive seminars, insightful keynote speeches and compassionate coaching – all to encourage personal and professional growth within the federal & state government, corporations, non-profits, including churches, and academia.
Johnson is the Founder, Chief Visionary and Chief Executive Officer of The Johnson Leadership Group, LLC, and an Independent certified coach, mentor, trainer and speaker with the nationally recognized John Maxwell Team, where he leads learning experiences that are tailored to meet the specific needs of the audience to help maximize efficiency, growth, awareness and effectiveness.
Johnson lives in Clarksville, Maryland with his wife of 28 years, Gail, and together, raised three sons – Kevin, Christopher, and Cameron.