Will I See You at the Top?
I have always been a hard-working, optimistic, enthusiastic, highly-motivated individual. Growing up I learned to play it straight, keep my word, and follow through. And for some reason, I always wanted to come out on top.
Working for Success
My mother taught me the value of work. When my dad died he left Mama with 12 children. Six of us were too young to work, but Mama expected us to do what we could to help. From the fifth grade until I graduated from high school, I worked at the Piggly Wiggly every afternoon after school and every Saturday. During those years, the men I worked for treated me like a son while teaching me how to sell, run an honest business, and enjoy life even in hard times.
After high school graduation and a hitch in the Navy, I married Jean Abernathy—the “Redhead” and love of my life. Not long after, I dropped out of college to take a job selling cookware. Unfortunately, the next 25 years were characterized by ups and downs, mainly due to my habit of taking “better sales opportunities.” I moved my growing family near and far to suit my latest “sure thing” sales career. My dream of speaking full-time was born in 1950, and my opportunities to give motivational talks and teach sales courses increased over the years.
Going Nowhere Fast
But at age 45, due to several serious business setbacks, I was broke, in debt, and my career as a speaker was going nowhere. Despite my remarkable lack of success, I was still confident—to the point of arrogance—in what I was capable of doing. Yet nothing I had done qualified me to be that optimistic!
In 1972, while speaking at a small sales convention, everyone kept telling me about their top sales lady, Ann Anderson. When I met her she started talking about Sister Jessie, an elderly black lady that Ann said she owed most of her success to. Out of curiosity, after the convention the Redhead and I drove with Ann to meet this remarkable lady. Some things she said struck me profoundly, and we invited her and Ann to spend the upcoming July 4th weekend with us at our home.
Sister Jessie arrived talking about Jesus Christ, and for nearly three days that is all she talked about. She made a very convincing and persuasive case!
Needing a Life Makeover
Like most people, I had always felt that I could build a ladder of good works and climb my way up to heaven. Sister Jessie showed us from the Bible that wasn’t possible. For the first time ever I understood that Christ is not A way to heaven; he is THE way. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Our self-efforts are futile: the Bible says that “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
God had to come down to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to seek out sinners like me and give them eternal life. The sinless Christ took on our sins when he died on the cross, so we could be freed from the condemnation our sins deserve. “Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).
Jesus himself promised, “Whoever hears my word and believes him [God] who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Religion is spelled “do.” Christianity is spelled “done.”
When Christ arose from the grave, it was proof that the price for our sins had been paid in full. The way you come to know Jesus is to admit that you are a sinner, and trust completely in him to give you forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a new start. That’s how you secure your eternity at the “top”—in heaven. As Jesus said about those who believe in him, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). That confirmation gives me incredible peace of mind.
Giving Proper Credit
After that weekend with Sister Jessie, the change in my life was total, dramatic, and overwhelming. Perhaps the most significant life principle I’ve learned since becoming a Christian is this: put God first in your life, your family second, and your career third. Getting those priorities straight has made a huge difference in my life and business.
I take credit for what I did in the first few years of my life. I can do that because it amounted to virtually nothing. I can’t take any credit for what has happened in my life since Christ changed everything. I will only make it to the top because of what Christ did for me.
It’s important that we make it to the top. Not the top of the corporate ladder, not the top of a religious ladder, but all the way to God through his Son. Jesus Christ has made it possible for you and me to have peace with God, a personal relationship with him, and a secure eternity in Heaven. Will I see you at the top?
Zig Ziglar (1926-2012)
On November 26, 2012, Zig’s faith became sight as he entered heaven’s gate! If you want an eternal relationship with God, tell him in your own words, or with words like these: “Dear God, I’m convinced that Jesus died to take the punishment my sins deserve. Based on what he did for me, I trust you completely to forgive my sins and give me eternal life. Thank you for such a gracious offer!”
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