A Discussion Guide for Eric Metaxas’s Seven Men and The Secret Of Their Greatness

The curriculum for this discussion group is the book Seven Men and The Secrets of Their Greatness. In this book author Eric Metaxas considers lessons to be learned from the lives of seven influential leaders with the goal of inspiring readers.

Metaxas’s method in Seven Men is not to analyze the leadership of these men. Rather, he seeks to put greatness on display. In his words,

[Seven Men shows greatness] . . . in the actual lives of great men. You can talk about right and wrong and good and bad all day long, but ultimately people need to see it. Seeing and studying the actual lives of people is simply the best way to communicate ideas about how to behave and how not to behave. We need heroes and role models.

Metaxas goes on to explain that the greatest role model is the Lord Jesus Christ. And I, of course, agree. To the extent that anyone leads, he or she only reflects Christ – - the source and sum of all brilliance. Truly great leaders glorify God by reflecting the example of Christ.

Metaxas says that he chose these particular men because he was looking for seven men who had all “evinced one particular quality: that of surrendering themselves to a higher purpose, of giving something away that they might have kept.” We are looking to do the same. That is, we want to learn again that in losing our lives for Christ’s sake, we find them.

Our discussions together will emphasize action. Christ does not call us to get together and talk occasionally. Rather, we are to decisively seek to make a difference for Him. To that end, we will challenge on another to identify particular areas where we can take action.

Follow the hyperlinks below to each each individual discussion.

Introduction: – Metaxas introduces the book by reflecting on several themes: (1) The need for heroes. (2) True manhood is neither being macho nor being emasculated. Biblical manhood is reflecting the example of Christ in self-giving love. (3) Courage is a matter of character and the heart. (4) Why he chose these particular men.

Chapter 1: George Washington (1732-1799) – George Washington was a leader of incredible ambition. Yet, at a critical time he paradoxically gave up power.

Chapter 2: William Wilberforce (1759-1833) – Rather than fleeing the pressures a Christian politician faced in the 18-19th century England, Wilberforce chose to stay in politics where he could exert a Christian influence.

Chapter 3: Eric Liddell (1902-1945) – Eric Liddell is best known for his decision to not compete in the 100-meter dash in the 1924 Olympics. What is not known is how Liddell put Christ first at times when the risks were far greater.

Chapter 4: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) – Dietrich Bonhoeffer recognized the direction of Hitler’s Germany when most other Christian leaders in Germany were duped. Though the Nazis executed Bonhoeffer when he was only 39, his leadership was so effective that his legacy continues today.

Chapter 5: Jackie Robinson (1919-1972) – Jackie Robinson endured incredible discrimination during his early years. However, the trials that oppressed Robinson as a little boy prepared him to become a great man.

Chapter 6: Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) – Pope John Paul II was one of the most surprising popes in history. When Karol Wojtyla was named pope, he was largely unknown. Throughout his life, Pope John Paul II showed a heart for the weak and defenseless even as he battled an attempt on his life and Parkinson’s disease.

Chapter 7: Charles W. Colson (1931-2012) – Chuck Colson worked hard, in his younger years, for President Richard Nixon — the most powerful man on earth, but he spent the second half of his life working even harder for the King of kings.

This Washington Post article on Eric Metaxas may be of interest. 

Watch Eric Metaxas share his story or read more about him on his web site.


Tim Johnson is a Regional Vice President for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Leader of Pinnacle Forum for Central Illinois.