Now one thing I'm sure of is that grace builds on nature. Ziglar's message seems to me to be sheer common sense. But after this little message from a man speaking from experience, I came across an article this evening about the Desert Fathers of the Church and their prescription for dealing with negative thoughts. And just like Ziglar's discussion about negativity and its destructive influence on a person's life, the Desert Fathers offer solid advice for the cure. Control your negative thoughts and control the passions of the heart. Here's just a bit:
For these ancient monks the objective of gaining control of their thoughts was to reach Hesychasm; a state characterized by peace, calm, rest, silence, and deep inner solitude; necessary for the spiritual contemplation of things and beings, and the understanding of God. The Desert Fathers prescribed many methods to achieve this: “guarding the heart”, sobriety, hospitality and practicing meditation.
Guarding the heart, in Greek nepsis (vigilance), is being attentive to everything that happens in our heart. It is a spiritual method which aims to free man of bad or passionate thoughts. It invites us to observe the thoughts which penetrate our soul, and to discern between the good and the bad. Evagrius said: “Take care of yourself, be the gatekeeper to your heart and don’t let any thought enter without questioning it.” As Xerri points out: “The elders noticed that holy thoughts led to a peaceful state, the others to a troubled state.” (Read more....)Ziglar was a devout Baptist, but in terms of his philosophy of life he had a lot in common with the Desert Fathers. You can watch his videos on YouTube where he urges you to be a "good finder" not a "fault finder." He advises people not to have an advanced case of "stinkin' thinkin'." He reminded me of G.K. Chesterton when he said, "The healthiest of human emotions is gratitude." Chesterton said we should say grace before everything. He described gratitude as "happiness doubled by wonder." Did Ziglar read Chesterton? He certainly internalized him.
Zig Ziglar died in 2012 centuries after the Desert Fathers, but I think they would have seen him as an acolyte. So I'm praying for him tonight and I hope you will too. He helped a lot of people recognize that your greatest enemy is often yourself.