Book Review: Make Today Count (John C Maxwell)


The premise of Make Today Count (MTC) is summed up by its subtitle, “The Secret of Your Success Is Determined by Your Daily Agenda”. Maxwell points out that what we become is the result of what we do today, that every day is preparation for the next. Therefore, the only way to change your life is to change what you do daily. Maxwell lists his “daily dozen”, the 12 areas of life that he focuses upon in order to make his own life a success. These are:

  1. Attitude
  2. Priorities
  3. Health
  4. Family
  5. Thinking
  6. Commitment
  7. Finances
  8. Faith
  9. Relationships
  10. Generosity
  11. Values
  12. Growth

In the 12 chapters that follow, he addresses each of these areas and gives practical advice and examples from his own life on how each area can be developed. At the end of the book, he encourages the reader to make their own list, using the “daily dozen” as a model, and to work on these priorities daily in order to live a successful and fulfilled life.


The book is well written. It has a clear objective, is well structured and divided into self-contained chapters. The writing is concise, uses plain language and contains plenty of concrete examples to illustrate Maxwell’s points. The book is relatively short – at around 160 pages (3.5 hours audio), it makes for a fairly quick read. The narration of the audio version is evenly paced, and I found the narrator’s voice neither tiresome nor grating. Maxwell’s occasional humorous remarks were delivered rather deadpan, but I admit that this is vastly preferable to over-emphasizing the jokes. I also found the pace of the narration a little slow. Indeed, I turned playback speed on my player up to 120% without missing a word. With its smart, business-like cover the printed book would look quite respectable on bookshelf or in any briefcase or handbag.

Religious Content

Faith is a subject of an entire chapter of MTC, and I was intrigued to see how Maxwell presents his religious convictions in the book.

Maxwell’s earlier books have had significant success amongst business leaders and in other secular markets. Nevertheless, in MTC Maxwell unashamedly proclaims that his Christian faith has formed the basis of his life’s work, and cites the Bible as the source book for many of his ideas. For him, faith is fundamental. Of course, some people will find any reference to religion unpalatable. In Maxwell’s defence, he is simply stating what has worked for him. He doesn’t say that his list of priorities is right for everyone, rather that it is a model upon which we can base our own personal list.

On the other hand, significant numbers of Christians also read Maxwell’s books. For some believers, however, MTC appear be too secular. Why? Because, for may Christian readers, a clear Biblical mandate for the principles by which they live is essential. However, Maxwell provides few Bible references or examples to back up his assertions, and he chooses to put the faith chapter in the middle of the book rather than in first place where it belongs. As a believer myself, I quite understand these objections. Nevertheless, I recognise that Maxwell has succeeded in writing a book that is intended to be accessible to people with a wide variety of religious perspectives. I can only hope that it will inspire a few to research the basis of the author’s own growth and development. So, can a book like this help me grow as a Christian? Maxwell contends that his principles are to be found in scripture, even if he doesn’t always tell us where to look. Clearly, if I want in-depth Bible-study on these topics, I will have to look elsewhere.  Nevertheless, a life wholly dedicated to God should be the aspiration of every believer, and the areas that Maxwell covers in MTC are certainly important in that respect. As such, I find that Maxwell’s MTC deeply challenging and inspirational.

Value for Money

According to Amazon, much of the material in the book was covered in his earlier work, Today Matters, so readers of the earlier volume may not find much new material here. Others may find much of the material self-evident or common sense. Frankly, I envy such people! For everyone else, I think there are valuable lessons to be learned from this text. As such, I think it is well worth the cover price.


Apparently, Stephen R. Covey calls this book,

A persuasive, inspiring, and greatly needed message!

I can’t help but agree. I found it profoundly challenging, and will undoubtedly read it again.

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