John Wesley on Leadership

images-2John Wesley was one of ten children born to Samuel and Suzzanna Wesley in Great Britain. He is seen as the principal founder of the Methodist movement that later became the denomination we know today. He was born in 1703 and died in 1791. John studied at Oxford and became a vibrant participant of the Holy Club, which his brother Charles founded at Oxford. After a disappointing trip to Georgia, one of the original 13 colonies of America, Wesley experienced a true conversion to Christianity. This experience unleashed his ministry of evangelism which centered upon faith in Christ alone for salvation. Wesley was no stranger to controversy and persecution. Yet he always relied on a strong inner faith that was built solely upon the Scriptures as the Word of God.

Wesley was a true leader. It is estimated that Wesley preached more than 40,000 sermons and traveled over 250,000 miles on horseback to communicate his message of life change. He started numerous societies to bring stability to the faith and commissioned many preachers to carry on the work. It is believed upon his death that he left behind some 135,000 members of the Methodist movement and 541 itinerate preachers. His impact is still felt keenly today.

I have collected a number of quotes from the preaching and writing of John Wesley. Notice how many of them focus on character and the inner life of a leader. This was critical to Wesley and should be critical for us today. Read and reflect and offer your insights as to how these quotes speak to you as a leader.

Vice does not lose its character by becoming fashionable.

We should be rigorous in judging ourselves and gracious in judging others.

God grant that I may never live to be useless!

Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry.

Even in the greatest afflictions, we ought to testify to God, that, in receiving them from his hand, we feel pleasure in the midst of the pain, from being afflicted by Him who loves us, and whom we love.

Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, not withstanding these smaller differences.

Let your words be the genuine picture of your heart.

When I was young I was sure of everything; in a few years, having been mistaken a thousand times, I was not half so sure of most things as I was before; at present, I am hardly sure of anything but what God has revealed to me.

I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. Give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God!

A great resource for Wesley quotes is a book entitled Wesley Quotations by Betty Jarboe.

10 replies
  1. Rick Satterstrom
    Rick Satterstrom says:

    Thank you for reminding us of a passionate man. His quotes are as good as many books, always pushing you to want to do more and how!

    Reply
  2. Richard Heitzenrater
    Richard Heitzenrater says:

    Can you provide the sources for quotes 2 and 10, which I cannot find in Wesley? There are also two that are not Wesley–numbers 4 and 7.

    Reply
    • Gary Runn
      Gary Runn says:

      Richard, thanks so much for your comment. I am double checking my sources now-and I will get back to you with my results. If you are aware that two of the quotes are not from Wesley, who are they from?

      Reply
  3. Richard Heitzenrater
    Richard Heitzenrater says:

    I cannot find the source in Wesley for quotes 2 and 10. There are two quotes in the list that are not Wesley–numbers 4 and 6.

    Reply
    • Gary Runn
      Gary Runn says:

      Richard, So far you seem to be right on target in stating that several of Wesley’s quotes can be attributed to his biographers more than his works. Thanks for helping me take a deeper look at this post. I will make revisions as I learn more. I read your article “Twice-Told Tales.” Very insightful-thanks for all of your scholarly work on Wesley.

      Reply
    • Gary Runn
      Gary Runn says:

      Richard, I have edited my post and taken quotes 4, 6 and 7 out while I continue to research 2 and 10. I have also referenced Betty Jarboe’s book, which I saw you mention as a great source for Wesley quotes. Thanks again for pointing me in the right directions. Is you new book out yet?

      Reply
    • Gary Runn
      Gary Runn says:

      Richard, I have edited my post and taken quotes 4, 6 and 7 out while I continue to research 2 and 10. I have also referenced Betty Jarboe’s book, which I saw you mention as a great source for Wesley quotes. Thanks again for pointing me in the right directions. Is your new book out yet?

      Reply

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