Hit the stage running in 2020

Published 5:04 pm Monday, January 6, 2020

So, how are those new goals coming? Oh, I know, we’re only a week into the new year; but I still thought you might need a little nudge to keep you on track.

Well, maybe I thought I might need a little nudge. I’m just pretending to nudge everybody else. Each morning, I am trying to read a piece — and write a bit on it — by the old-time writer Alexander Maclaren, an eighteen-century minister. I started Jan. 1 on reading from his essays on the book of Joshua, because the early chapters of Joshua are some of the richest and most powerful in the Old Testament. It was after my Thursday reading that I thought of you, so here we are.

The book of Joshua opens with the Lord’s approaching his new leader and saying, “Joshua-boy, get up, we’ve got a river to cross, and you need to hit it on the run.”

The Lord proceeds to give Joshua one of the great pep talks in the Bible, and its message is passionate and pointed.

It is a pep talk for the ages. I deliberated over it awhile, and it wasn’t long until I got to thinking what I needed to say to help you loyal readers in these upcoming roaring 20s? Then it hit me: You will need what the Lord gives Joshua — a good, old-fashioned Zig Ziglar motivational speech. It was funny how Zig Ziglar abruptly popped into my mind, but you can hardly think about motivation without him.

Mr. Ziglar would hit the stage on a run, jump into a story to grab his audience before he’d taken two steps, and then talk for an hour that seemed more like ten minutes. He moved purposely from one spot on the stage to the other; and when he wanted really to get you in the palm of his hand, he would kneel, slow down a bit for the first time, and lay out a plan that reminded you of a backyard quarterback drawing a play carefully in the dirt.

That, really, was what the master speaker was doing: He was just drawing a play. It was a “You run this play precisely the way I’m drawing it, and you are going to be successful” message; and I can hear him saying just such a thing in his Mississippi drawl. And here’s the play — drawn from two distinct sources — that we wanted to kneel down and draw for you today in this first column of 2020: You hit your goals running the way the then 70-something year-old Zig Ziglar hit the stage.

You hit the stage running and don’t slow down until those good goals you have set have no choice but to surrender, much like a Zig Ziglar spellbound audience would surrender five seconds into his speech.

That “hit the stage running” message is the very one the Lord delivers to Joshua: “There’s the river there, young fella, and way out yonder is the other side. You see these people right here. Take them over there.