Inspired to Be the Best You
It took a while before I understood what my father, Zig Ziglar, meant when he said, “You have to 'be' before you can do, and you have to do before you can have.”
Often when I speak, I ask the audience to raise their hands if any of the children they so lovingly and carefully raised went out and did exactly the very thing they warned them against doing. There is always a bit of nervous laughter before the vast majority of hands go up.
I then explain that I am doing the disclaimer portion of my talk, and I tell them how I have wonderful parents, but I, of my own volition, made a lot of bad choices. I want everyone to know up front that there won’t be a Zig Ziglar bashing session.
Two horses were trapped on an icy mountain. Would help arrive in time?
My father is the right kind of person and he did his best by me; I’m the one who made my life a mess!
Sadly, from the age of 13 to 30 that mess was so big I tried to keep it a secret that I was Zig Ziglar’s daughter. I was tremendously proud of my father, and I was horribly ashamed of the choices I was making in my life that would embarrass him if he, or anyone who knew him, found out about them.
The reason I was making bad choices was because I did not yet understand one of the most foundational principles my father was teaching: You have to “be” before you can do, and you have to do before you can have.
I was stuck at “be.” I believe I got stuck at “be” because Dad raised me without the Instruction Manual. I am absolutely serious.
Dad was a good father. He always gave it his best effort. He taught me to obey the law, tell the truth and work hard, but he didn’t become a Christian until I was a few weeks shy of being seventeen years old. Until then, Dad couldn’t have known everything he needed to be teaching me.
I missed being raised in church. I missed being taught biblical principles and hearing Bible stories with morals. I missed being taught the importance of keeping yourself pure for marriage. I know God’s Instruction Manual, the Bible, made all the difference in the life of my little brother Tom.
Tom is almost ten years younger than me; Dad raised him with the Instruction Manual, took him to church and read him Bible stories. Tom has had a totally different life than my sisters and I, and it is most apparent in the choices he has made.
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I believe it is because Tom learned the “why and how” behind the rules and expectations.
Dad teaches that you have to BE the right kind of person first. These days I absolutely love talking about being the right kind of person. Finally I understand what my father’s saying means!
I had to live through my twenties, thirties, and into my early forties before I began to catch on. Call me a slow learner, but every time I heard Dad say “you have to be the right kind of person,” I thought…and what is that? According to whose standards? What does that mean?
I am sure he explained it many times, but I was so far from being able or willing to try to be the right kind of person that I couldn’t get beyond the question of whose standards were being used to measure right and wrong.
I was stuck on my “rights” and it never occurred to me that certain life principles simply made life less complicated and easier to live. I was making a straightforward thing difficult because I was afraid I might be asked to change, do something hard, or give up something I enjoyed.
I used to congratulate myself on having an open mind. I have since learned that my mind was open by only a single, very narrow crack into which I wedged a thousand feeble excuses for not trying to be more than I already was, or the best I could be.
After so many years of being the “wrong kind” of person, I’ve discovered that when you are happy to “be” you, when you know why you do what you do and you feel confident that you know who you are, and Whose you are, that is joy unleashed!
This article was excerpted from Growing Up Ziglar: A Daughter’s Broken Journey from Heartache to Hope (Guideposts 2012) by Julie Ziglar Norman. For more information or to buy the book, go to ShopGuideposts.