Xulon Press Successful Author Spotlight: Michael Zigarelli

Filed in Successful Author Spotlight by on April 15, 2013 0 Comments

Xulon Press author Michael ZigarelliToday’s Xulon Press Successful Author Spotlight features an astute scholar and college professor who is also the record keeper–for girls’ soccer. Michael Zigarelli, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Management at Messiah College and the former dean of the Regent University School of Business, has written such books as: The Messiah Method: 7 Disciplines of the Winningest College Soccer Program in America; Cultivating Christian Character; and Management by Proverbs. Dr. Zigarelli has devoted his life to higher education and provides learned insight into the academic world and how it relates to Christianity. His personal relationship with Christ is present in all he does and everything he writes. He is a shining example of a Christian testimony in an arena that sometimes frowns on having a personal relationship with Christ: the field of education. He ministers to the well educated “that simple story” of the gospel of Christ—and he proves that God chose the foolishness of the gospel to confound the wise.

As we began our conversation, I asked Dr. Zigarelli “What one past experience changed the course of your life?” He was resolute and steadfast in his answer. “Becoming a parent – I have 4 teenagers: 2 boys and 2 girls! I can tell you that it’s been a sanctifying experience—how hard it is—for guys I’ve known. You just think “live your life serving you”– that’s just a typical single guy’s view toward life. Then suddenly, you are thrust into a “servanthood” role— and it’s a total life change—you either accept it or fight it, kicking and screaming. If you accept the challenge, then your life changes forever. You lead them by serving them. At some point, you realize that you were meant to be this leader by example.

Having written ten books, ranging in topics from school soccer to cultivating Christian character, I asked Dr. Zigarelli “What method do you use to start your writing process?” He laughed for a minute and then spoke honestly, from his heart. “If I have an idea, I read everything I can think of in that area, ranging from the topic of the book, paying attention to those who have done it well and those who have done it poorly. I spend a lot of time scanning the environment. Why reinvent the wheel? In the pre writing stage— I do a tremendous amount of research—I’m a researcher and I collect data, quantitative or qualitative, depending what is needed. The research has to come first. You have to have something you have discovered. You really must have content, not just writing to fill a page. The major piece is trying to choreograph the actual outline of the book. I spend more time on the structure of what I am writing than I spend on writing itself. Remember: it has to be readable and accessible. I spend months on the stage of writing a book—and it has its pay off— once it is structured properly and works with the audience. I use this tool:  a “mental jury box”. I put in my head several different people who would be in my audience. It would be somebody that I would know, like a pastor or a friend or a nominal Christian—put them in my “mental jury box”— so as I write, I can say things that will make sense and resonate with those specific people in “the jury.” I think it helps—it helps the writer to know his audience. Be careful: We may be working on cross purposes—it is exceedingly difficult because we may alienate our audience. I am always asking “what terminology do I use that will best communicate to my audience?” It is also important to speak to your audience. Get people you trust to give you candid feedback to bounce back their opinions. Trust their opinion—and value their input.”

I then wanted to drill down deeper, so I asked him “What message do you want shared by the story of your life?” He was quiet and yet spoke volumes as he answered “The Issue of Gratitude- when I am feeling grateful—I can do all things through Christ! When I am not grateful, it is more difficult to accomplish things. Cultivating gratitude in a lifetime basis; it’s harder to apply it- it’s more than “just know it”. Living grateful is a lifetime goal!”

Since Dr. Zigarelli has spent his life in academia, I was curious about his perspective on testimony in the workplace. I asked him “What would you tell others about your relationship with Christ that would inspire them?” He responded thoughtfully, “Keep going, despite the hardships and trials– it’s not as easy as you think it is. Christianity is a lifeboat, not a pleasure boat. Dallas Willard said that but… it’s just so true!”

I posed my signature question to this scholar, not quite sure how he would answer. “What will they write on your gravestone that will sum up your life?” He didn’t hesitate one moment. “Gratitude changed my life!” Dr. Zigarelli shared that he did an exercise of creating his own tombstone- from his birthday and then 100 years later—and, after surveying his life, the milestones, up and downs, high points and low—overall, he was grateful! He said it brought clarity to just how fleeting life can be—and to be grateful for it all because someday, it will be gone.

It’s always important to find out how the Word affects an author’s life. I find it revealing when I ask “What is your theme scripture and why?” He shared “1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: Be joyful and grateful in all things!” Dr. Zigarelli went on to explain that “the three drivers I found that were key elements in cultivating Christian character were found in that scripture reference–it all aligned perfectly with that verse. It’s like the Lord said to me “I told you two thousand years ago… why did you doubt me?”

After spending time with this teacher, professional, educator, coach and most importantly, Dad—I had to assess that Dr. Zigarelli is the embodiment of what is right in our education system. He was passionate, dedicated and committed to teaching his students, in the classroom, the soccer field and at the breakfast table, that a life full of gratitude is the best lesson applied and learned. And after sitting in his classroom for an hour, I could not agree more! If he’s teaching a class on gratitude—sign me up!

Find Michael A. Zigarelli’s books in the Xulon Press Bookstore.

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About the Author ()

Alan P. Scaglione is a writer who reflects on the simple contradictions and complexities to living this ”gift from God” called life. He believes that Life is a journey that, with compassion, a little levity and perspective, we help each other get through. His greatest compliment was being told “you draw pictures with your words!” He has devoted his life to “drawing”…in his poetry, his songs, his weekly “Reflections of Life” blog entries, his monthly SAS articles, his short stories and now, his novels! Alan is an everyday guy who refuses to let circumstances dictate his view to life; he lives an attitude of gratitude and spreads his positive outlook everywhere he goes. His BEST day is a day shared making a memory that will last a lifetime! Please check out Alan’s books “One Unexpected Event – How Would Your Life Change?” and its sequel “One Unexpected Event – Aftermath!” in the Xulon Press bookstore.

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