With his usual wit and style, acclaimed motivational speaker Zig Ziglar energized more than 7,000 messengers at the closing session of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting at the Phoenix Civic Center.
Ziglar is a Sunday School teacher at the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, where SBC President Jack Graham is pastor.
"Really all I do is paraphrase the Bible, throw in some funnies and tell some stories," Ziglar said. "God's Word even when paraphrased does not return void."
He was talking about every type of speaking engagement, Ziglar explained. Ever since he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior on July 4, 1972, Ziglar said he has made a point to share the Gospel in some fashion.
"From day one I have made it crystal clear where I was coming from," Ziglar said. "The reason I love to follow the Great Commission is because this is our business. It's the last thing our Lord told us to do. We need to be out there telling people about Jesus Christ."
Christian people -- who are on the winning side of the battle between good and evil -- often act as though they are losing the battle, Ziglar said. That's counterproductive for the cause of Christ, he added.
"We need to let people see in us something different," Ziglar said. "We simply must understand we need to take Jesus with us everywhere we go."
Ziglar described the personification of a Christian.
"Many people -- both Christians and non-Christians -- have a small image of what it is to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior," Ziglar said. "How can you not love, admire and respect somebody who practices the Golden Rule, follows the Ten Commandments, who takes seriously what Christ said when He said you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and you should love your neighbor as yourself? And the fruit of the Spirit comes in there somewhere. How on earth could you not love somebody and follow somebody who is following those rules?
"You've got to share the Gospel," Ziglar said. "Everything else we do is bells and whistles. Our job here on earth is to bring people to Jesus Christ. We need to be out there and we need to be telling people what Jesus is all about. We need to take the Lord with us to work because that's what we really need to do.
"People really want to hear the truth," Ziglar said. "They are starved for the truth, no question about it. We need to tell it with love, understanding and compassion, and build relationships along the way, particularly with those we are working with.
"Words alone may sometimes fail, so demonstrate to make the sale," Ziglar said, applying a sales motivation snippet he said he often uses. "Let your life be the witness to what the Bible is talking to us about."
Truth be told, Ziglar said, he generally bathes faith in humor. He spoke of an atheist father and son walking on the beach. The son says, "Dad, do think God knows we don't believe in Him?"
No ethical business can survive unless it follows biblical principles, Ziglar said, noting that biblical principles work in every setting.
One way he witnesses is by a lapel pin he wears, the motivational speaker said. It's a fish outline with a number seven inside. When people ask him about it he tells them, "There are seven days in a week. They all belong to Jesus. I do not worship a part-time Lord, so I do not serve Him on a part-time basis."
Ziglar returned again and again to his main point.
"We've got to get serious about witnessing and we've got to get serious about telling people what this is all about and we've got to do some things now," Ziglar said. "The way God does things, the way the Bible does things, if you will follow the benefits, I'm going to tell you folks it works and it works big-time. All I'm saying, folks, is this ain't a bad deal. This ain't a bad deal.
"I have a tremendous sense of urgency right now," Ziglar said. "Our country is in crisis. We do need to claim 2 Chronicles 7:14. Read it for yourself. We can't blame the government, politicians or the media. We've got to go out and follow the Great Commission.
"But understand, we have already won the war," Ziglar added. "We need to claim the victory."