About Dr. Norman Vincent Peale
Norman Vincent Peale was born in Bowersville, Ohio in May of 1898. He lived a simple life growing up working hard to help support his family. No one could have imagined that one day he would become one of the most influential clergymen the 20th century. Not to mention the best-selling author of such books as The Power of Positive Thinking (1952, more than 20 million sold), The Art of Living (1937), Confident Living (1948), and This Incredible Century (1991). All of which were based on his own philosophy of positive thinking and positive confession. A philosophy admittedly developed because of his own crushing lack of self-esteem as a child. He once said, “It is of practical value to learn to like yourself. Since you must spend so much time with yourself you might as well get some satisfaction out of the relationship.”
Peale was educated at Ohio Wesleyan University and Boston University. Prior to entering the ministry he worked as a reporter. He was ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1922, and during the next ten years he served as pastor for churches in Berkeley, Rhode Island, Brooklyn, New York, and Syracuse.
He changed his religious affiliation to the Dutch Reformed Church and served as its president for two years during the sixties. He became the Pastor at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City in 1932, which at that time had 600 members. By the time he retired in 1984, it had over 5,000 in its congregation. This no doubt was due to Peale’s witty and captivating sermons on “positive” lifestyle, which ultimately catapulted him to fame. It was not long before his sermons were regularly broadcast on the radio and eventually on television. He obviously identified and tapped a deep need in the human heart for hope and positive encouragement. He had a way of applying Christianity to everyday problems and a keen understanding of human psychology.
In 1945, Dr. Peale and Ruth his wife founded Guideposts Magazine with the help of a businessman named Raymond Thornburg. Mixing a little money and a strong vision they built Guideposts to its current circulation of more than 4.5 million, the largest of any religious magazine. They designed Guideposts as a non-denominational forum for people from all walks of life to share their personal and inspirational stories. These stories never fail to provide a spiritual lift to all who read them. He and Ruth also founded the Foundation for Christian Living that same year.
In 1947 Peale and educator Kenneth Beebe co-founded “The Horatio Alger Association,” in order to recognize and honor contemporary Americans for achieving success and excellence in the face of great adversity. Since his death on December 24, 1993, at 95, Ruth has carried on the work they began.
Peale has been called the Apostle of Self Esteem and the title suits him well, for his life was dedicated to teaching others how to succeed. His own life was the most sincere testament to the real value of the principles he taught. Norman Vincent Peale has helped and inspired countless millions to have better lives. He was a man whom presidents and high-powered executives took into their confidence and looked to for advice. The positive philosophy of this master motivator of the 20th Century was instrumental in defining the self-help genre, and his service to the human quality of life will surely persist far into the new millennium.