A former small-business owner and church planter, Steve Lawson recently stepped down as the senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Greenville, Texas, to focus on his writing, speaking, and leadership training activities.
He holds a doctor of strategic leadership degree from Regent University, a master of divinity degree from The King’s University, an MBA from Amberton University, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Texas.
Lawson owns Leadership Transformation Inc., providing emotional intelligence training and consulting to organizations of all sizes. More information on his consulting services is available at www.leadershiptransformation.net. An avid blogger and writer, Lawson is available for speaking engagements in churches, seminars, and conferences. You can contact him at www.stevelawson.us.
He and his wife, Karen, live in Greenville, Texas. They are the parents of three grown daughters.
His latest book is the Christian/Christian living/personal growth book, Giant Killers: Overcoming Obstacles and Seizing Opportunities.
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About the Book:
It seemed a lopsided battle. On one side, a small shepherd with a sling and five stones. On the other, a heavily armored ten-foot giant whose taunts and challenges immobilized an army of seasoned warriors. The story of David and Goliath has become an almost universal underdog story; but in reality, Goliath never stood a chance.
In Giant Killers, emotional intelligence speaker, consultant, and author Steve Lawson identifies the five vital emotional and social skills David possessed: identity, discipline, graciousness, action, and hope. When combined with the power of God’s grace, these strengths made it possible for David to defeat Goliath, build a mighty army out of social rejects, and establish the greatest kingdom in the history of Israel.
Identity. Discipline. Graciousness. Action. Hope. These five important emotional skills establish how we perceive and express ourselves—and how willingly we seize the opportunities God provides. Who better to demonstrate these powerful traits than David, who slew his own giant?
We all face giants in our lives—challenges and obstacles that intimidate us, limit our potential, and keep us from moving forward. It’s easy to feel like David fighting Goliath. And that’s good—because David won. Like David, we can overcome any challenge, seizing with confidence the opportunities God places in our path. Giant Killers teaches you how to do so, providing a foundation on which you can build success after success. It all begins with you—and your willingness to trust in God’s grace.
For More Information
- Giant Killers: Overcoming Obstacles and Seizing Opportunities is available at Amazon.
- Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Would you call yourself a born writer?
I don’t think I would call myself a born writer. I’m definitely a born communicator. Growing up, my dad always said I should be a lawyer because I argued so well. Later in life when I became a pastor, I had to learn to preach because Sunday’s have this nasty habit of showing up every weekend. So over 18 years I’ve had a lot of practice and became pretty good at it. But I had to learn to write.
During my doctoral studies on strategic leadership (DSL) was when I really started writing. We were constantly writing academic articles, popular press pieces and consulting reports. For three years we wrote constantly, and our work was continually scrutinized. After publishing a couple of articles, I started to think that I may actually be able to something worth reading. I started to think I might actually have something to say. That was the genesis of my life as a writer.
What was your inspiration for Giant Killers?
The concepts in my book are twofold; a study of emotional intelligence and how God’s grace informs and empowers emotional intelligence. So the research for my book really evolved over time. As a former pastor, I found myself continually speaking about grace; what it is, it’s transforming power, how it changes the way we treat people, and how it changes us. As the topic of grace continually popped up in various messages, my understanding of it and realization of how much I did not know continued to grow.
For several years I toyed with the idea of writing a book on the subject of grace. But as I pursued the idea and talked with several friends that were authors or in the publishing world, I pretty much gave up on the idea. Grace has already been written about by many different authors and several big name authors. So for me, a small church pastor in a small town, to expect to be able to publish a book on grace that had any hope of gaining traction would be an exercise in futility. But it became my life message, and my passion for sharing that message grew. Consequently, I was continually researching, studying, and reading books on the subject.
It was during a leadership conference that I first heard of the subject of emotional intelligence. One of the speakers mentioned emotional intelligence and its importance almost as a side comment rather than one of his main points. But it peaked my interest and I began to see it referred to in a variety of sources. During my MBA several of the leadership and management textbooks devoted entire sections on emotional intelligence. This stimulated my interest in the subject even more, to the point that I began to buy various books on emotional intelligence.
During my doctoral studies on strategic leadership, emotional intelligence became my focus of study. I began to see it everywhere; especially the need for emotional intelligence in people’s lives. As a pastor, I deal with a lot of people, many of them on a deep level. I would help them as they dealt with various struggles, how they interact in relationships, and how they chose their careers and then experienced successes and failures in those careers. In doing so, I saw even more how an understanding of emotional intelligence, and the necessity to improve in the skill of emotional intelligence. This growth would make a huge difference in not only the quality of people’s personal lives, but their relationships and professional lives as well.
Because this was for a doctoral project, my research intensified even more. So not only did I refer back to the books that I already owned on the subject, I downloaded scholarly articles from academic journals as well as several interviews from experts in the field. In addition, I became certified as an emotional intelligence consultant and trainer. This enabled me to not only teach a course on the subject, but also administrate the EQ-I 2.0 emotional intelligence assessment developed by Multi-Health Systems Inc.
Our doctoral program was an applied doctorate, so we were able to customize and focus our work. As I continued to research and study emotional intelligence, I began to see the correlation of various aspects of God’s grace with the five main components of emotional intelligence. So for my final doctoral project, I wrote on the interaction of God’s grace with emotional intelligence. This became the foundation for Giant Killers.
What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
I have several other books planned right now (all nonfiction), covering a variety of subjects. But no matter what the subject, the material will still be infused with the message of grace.
How long did it take you to complete the novel?
My doctoral project took about four months to complete. Because my book was originally my final project for my doctoral degree, it read way too much like an academic document to be anywhere close to ready for publishing. In addition, I had to find an angle that would appeal to a larger audience. I mean a book on how God’s grace informs and empowers emotional intelligence isn’t the most attractive of concepts to the general public. So in a moment of inspiration, I chose the story of David and Goliath as my launching point for the book, and continued to use David’s life as a great warrior and King as my running metaphor.
I wanted to show how important it is to develop the skills related to emotional intelligence and how they impact everyday life. I wanted to show how they not only enable us to overcome difficulties, but also how they set us up for success. In addition, I see so clearly how an understanding and acceptance of God’s grace brings supernatural power to the process. So the story of a teenage boy killing a giant seem like a good place to start. It is a story familiar to many, and is very inspirational to those of us facing our own giants in life.
So I basically rewrote the entire book and revised as I went. I imagine that I am similar to most authors in that I revised, then revised some more, then edited, then rewrote, then revised again, and eventually had to simply declare it “done.” This process took about 6 months.
Are you disciplined? Describe a typical writing day.
Disciplined? I would say that I am disciplined…kind of. I had to be disciplined during my masters and doctoral studies. I completed two masters degrees and the doctorate while working full-time as a pastor and raising three girls, so I had to be disciplined. I’m also disciplined in working out. But now that I am working from home I have found it difficult to be disciplined in my writing. So I don’t really have a typical writing day.
I am definitely a morning person. I haven’t always been that way, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve really grown to love still and the quiet of early mornings. When my kids were younger (I have three girls), early in the morning was the only time my house was a quiet. So really I became a morning person out of necessity.
Now that my kids are grown, I still find mornings most productive. Don’t get me wrong, I have learned to sleep in; but there are still several mornings a week that I will wake up really early and get excited about having several hours when my wife is still asleep that I can grab a cup of coffee and either just sit and read, or catch up on some writing. When I force myself out of the recliner and into my office, I am usually extremely productive during those early hours. That’s what I write the best.
I should probably do that every morning, but, having been married to the hottest, most beautiful, most amazing woman in the world for 27 years, I still have a hard time tearing myself away from her. Besides, if I play my cards right, I might just get…umm, next question…
What did you find most challenging about writing this book?
The first difficulty in writing any book is simply the discipline of writing. For some writers they may find it easy to find time to sit down and write, and the words flow easily onto the page. For others, and I am definitely in this category, writing is a discipline just as much as it is an inspirational or creative process. This means hours staring at a computer screen and feeling like you have nothing to say. Or it may mean writing for hours, only to highlight all of it and hit ‘delete.’ But I found that I still have to sit down in front of my computer every day and ‘work’ at my writing.
What I found most difficult in writing Giant Killers was the transition from an academic document to a book that people would actually want to read. I didn’t want to simply produce information, I wanted to produce a book that people would want to read. I also wanted my book to be one that would be easy to understand and relate to. So with my doctoral project as foundation, I began the re-writing and revising process to turn an academic project into a book.
But I didn’t want to just change the language and the use less syllables in my words, I wanted my writing to have a certain feel. When someone reads one of my books I want them to experience it. As they read each paragraph, each page, each chapter, I want them to do so with a sense that they are sitting in a coffee shop with me talking. I spent an extensive amount of time editing, sometimes down to words and phrases, with that single thought in mind. I want people to read my books and feel as if they are talking with me. I want them to feel as if they know me, who I am as a regular, normal, everyday person, rather than an impersonal collection of opinions and information.
It’s important to me as a speaker and as a writer that I connect with my audience. Even as I just wrote that sentence I really don’t like the word ‘audience.’ It’s too impersonal. I never want come across that way. I had a saying as a pastor that I wanted to do everything within my power to “decrease the distance between the platform and the chairs.” Too many times there’s a disconnect between the speaker or author in those with whom they are attempting to communicate. And one of my main goals has always been to present myself in such a way that people can identify with me as a person and connect with me as a regular, normal everyday guy, rather than some expert who has said or written something that they need to hear.
What do you love most about being an author?
I really like the writing process. I enjoy the research, wordsmithing and watching as abstract concepts formalize into a coherent document.
Did you go with a traditional publisher, small press, or did you self publish? What was the process like and are you happy with your decision?
I chose to self-publish. When I originally published Giant Killers early last year, I was still a small church pastor from a small town in Texas. I was essentially a nobody in the eyes of the publishing world. I did not have a national platform or really any way to market and sell books. So even if I went through the work of sending out hundreds of book proposals and dealing with hundreds of rejections, I saw little hope and actually landing a publishing deal. So I chose to forgo the process altogether and went straight to self-publishing.
I self-published initially through Westbow Publishers. I later left Westbow and went with a new publisher who gave me much higher royalties, and promised a fairly involved marketing plan. I discovered within a few months that this publisher was not up to the task (I could write a book on stupid decisions, but that story is for another time…and kind of long…), and eventually landed with Create Space – Amazon’s self-publishing company. Create Space has done a fantastic job and I couldn’t be happier with them. However, for my expanded distribution I am using Ingram Spark.
Where can we find you on the web?
Website Address: www.stevelawson.us
Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/steveatgrace
Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/dr.steve.lawson
Goodreads Address: https://www.goodreads.com/SteveLawson
Linked in Address: https://www.linkedin.com/in/doclaw