Monday, April 25, 2016

A Bookish Conversation with Steve Lawson, author of 'Giant Killers'



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.
For More Information
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.



Thanks for this interview, Stephen.  When not writing, what do you like to do for relaxation and/or fun?

My wife and I love to travel. When I was pastor, I maximize my vacation time, and we usually ended up going somewhere. In addition to vacationing in the US, we have had the privilege of touring parts of Italy, spending a little over a week in London, and we go to Mexico and spend a week on the beach at least once a year.

I’m also a bit of a fitness nut, so you can find me in the gym for five days a week. I have always fairly passionate about personal health and physical fitness. I have lifted weights since high school, and about four years ago began CrossFit training. Being the father of three girls, I’ve always said that I want to be in better shape than any of the boys they bring home. So I have had some extra motivation to stay in shape.

I tried out CrossFit a few years ago because my workouts and stagnant, and I was no longer pushing myself. After trying it out I got hooked like many people do, and now I’m a certified coach and even compete in Masters (a polite term for old people) competitions once in a while. CrossFit is not for everyone, but it definitely helped me increase intensity of my workouts, and at 50 years old I’m in the best shape of my life.

I also still love to hang out with my girls and son-in-law. Our girls are grown now, but we have a great relationship with all of them. So we make an effort to spend time with them whenever their home or close by. That may take the form of a daddy/daughter date night or family game night. They will even go to the hunting ranch with me. It doesn’t really matter what we do as long as we get to spend some time together.

Most importantly, I love hanging out with my wife. I happen to be married to the hottest, most beautiful, most amazing woman in the world. We’ve been married for 27 years and we’re more passionately in love and happier than we’ve ever been. And, surprisingly enough, we actually like each other and like spending time together. So whether it’s our weekly date night, going out with friends on the weekend, or take a couple of days off do a quick trip somewhere, we have a great time.


Do you have a day job? Or a night one?

There are several things that seem to keep me busy. In addition to writing, I also coach a few CrossFit classes every week. I have a separate company that specializes in emotional intelligence and leadership training. In addition, I do five or six pastor’s conferences around the world in with an organization called Global Advance.

In researching for my book, Giant Killers, 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. Following a discussion with a friend of mine a few months ago, I decided to start Leadership Transformation Inc., a company focused on emotional intelligence and leadership training. Right now still in the launch process, but I’ve already done several seminars, and as the company grows I plan to limit my seminars to no more than two or three a month.

Last February I stepped down as senior pastor of the church my wife and I helped start 18 years ago. One of the reasons that I stepped down was to have more time to write. But another passion that I would really wanted to pursue more fully was the pastor’s conferences that I had done with Global Advance.

Twenty-five years ago Global Advance by Dr. David Shibley to train pastors in the remote areas of the world where the pastors don’t have access to formal training. So Global Advance began sending pastors from the United States to do training conferences as well as more in-depth training for these men and women.

As a senior pastor, I really only had time to do one conference a year. This year I will do six conferences, and plan to add three or four more next year. These trips are solely at my expense, so obviously there are financial constraints, but I have had a few people committed to helping me cover my expenses, which is allowed me to take more trips. So far I have traveled to Columbia multiple times, Brazil, Peru, Turkey, Moscow, Mexico, and later this year I’m helping with the conference in Nepal. But that’s only a few of the places where we go, so the opportunities are virtually endless. Having the opportunity, privilege, and the honor to invest in these men and women, who have given up everything for the sake of the gospel, is truly one of the most rewarding things that I do.


Would you say it’s been a rocky road for you in regards to getting your book written and published or pretty much smooth sailing?  Can you tell us about your journey?

I chose to self-publish. Finding the right publisher was an education in itself. Unfortunately, it was a difficult and expensive education.

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. Being a new author, I paid for several marketing packages with Westbow. What I didn’t know, was that Westbow used Author Solutions for their marketing. At the time I guess that wouldn’t have made a difference to me since I didn’t know any better. I have now come to realize that Author Solutions has lots of negative reviews as well as several lawsuits filed against them. Needless to say, the marketing packages I bought were complete waste of money.

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…). Before I signed with this company the owner had given me his personal guarantee that if I was unsatisfied with any aspect of their publishing or marketing plan, he would give me a full refund. Unfortunately, that guarantee was not in the contract. And later, when it was evident that there was no way they would be able to fulfill the plan that they had laid out (another long story), I terminated our relationship. Of course he refused to honor the promise he had made, and I never got a dime back from them.

Eventually I 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.


What is it about the Christian/Personal Growth genre that appeals more than any other genre you would choose to write?
Honestly, I didn’t think much about the genre that my book would be in. Of course I knew I was writing a Christian book, but my writing is driven by the things I’m passionate about, so that has determined the genre. I’m currently working on a marriage book, but it will still be in the Christian genre, and I imagine a marriage subcategory. I have a couple of others in the works that will most likely land back in the Christian/Personal Growth genre.

If you had to summarize your book in one sentence, what would that be?

Discover the key character traits that, combined with God’s grace, made David a giant killer, and learn to apply those same qualities to your own life.

What makes your book stand out from the rest?

What makes Giant Killers unique is the combination of God’s grace and emotional intelligence. There have been many books written on both subjects, but none that combines them.

If your book was put in the holiday section of the store, what holiday would that be and why?

I guess it would be Easter, because of the message of hope that Easter celebrates.


Would you consider turning your book into a series or has that already been done?

I haven’t thought much about turning my book into a series. I have considered some spinoff books that delve more deeply into the main topics of Giant Killers. But at this point, that’s pretty low on my list of priorities.


Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

The ideas from my books come from life. They come from my interaction with people as a pastor. The come from my observation of people’s struggles and successes and greatest needs. The information comes from lots of reading, lots of research, and lots of prayer.


What’s next for you?

I actually have several books in my projects folder, but the one I’m working on right now is called The Prevailing Marriage. It is my opinion that marriages are not intended to merely survive, but to prevail. It actually is possible for your marriage to improve every year. You can be more in love, more passionately in love 20, 30, 40 years later than you ever thought possible. It takes a lot of hard work, but it’s possible.

The Prevailing Marriage outlines some of the foundational steps that it takes to go from a mediocre or even good marriage to a great marriage. I’m very excited about this book. My blog posts on marriage are consistently the most popular ones, so I’m excited about the potential this book has. Right now I am working hard to get this book finished in the next month or so, and have it published by the summer.

After I finish The Prevailing Marriage, I have a few other books in the conceptual and outline stage. I have one on what it takes to make those really hard choices that we are often faced with; decisions that will save the day for some and possibly ruin it for others. That book is currently titled Spear Decisions. I have another one about the power of forgiveness and what it takes to become free from bitterness - currently titled The Mulberry Tree. Both of those books are fully outlined with working chapter titles and descriptions. I have a leadership book I’d like to write one day, but I’m still in the conceptual stage on it, as well as a couple of others I’m toying with. Needless to say, in my career as a starving author, I have job security for the next few years. Hopefully that will change as I publish new books and my platform grows. I’ll keep you posted…