It was once my privilege to have an interview with Ray Jenkins, the brilliant lawyer from Knoxville, Tennessee, who presided over the Army-McCarthy hearings in Washington, D.C. during the 1950s. In the course of a conversation I asked him his formula for success in speaking. He mentioned several things, but one thing remains paramount in my mind. He said, "Don't ever speak on a subject about which you are not totally enthused."

Emotion motivates

Enthusiasm is an indispensable ingredient of poise. Some pseudo-intellectuals may take exception to enthusiasm and insist that we do everything on the basis of cool reason alone. I reply simply that most of what we do is done on the basis of emotional rather than intellectual impulse. I do not love my wife because of an intellectual theory about her. Rather, I love her because of an emotional impulse.

Similarly, you did not buy that insurance policy because of some fine calculation of the odds that you might die in the next five years. No doubt calculation comes into it, but the main inducement was strictly emotional. You saw your family destitute and in want because of inadequate material resources. It was this emotional reaction that led you to buy the insurance policy.

Or go to a football game. There you can tell no difference in behavior between the spectator with a third-grade education and the one with several doctoral degrees. They both respond emotionally, with enthusiasm, when their team scores.

One of my hobbies is reading books on salesmanship. I have a collection of more than 50. Without exception, each book on salesmanship underscores enthusiasm as an essential quality for success.

The leaders of this world always have been men and women of enthusiasm. Adolph Hitler knew the power of enthusiasm. His formula for speaking was, "Say it simply. Say it often. Make it burn." Thanks in part to this insight, the Austrian decorator became a world figure who could not be ignored.

Paul the apostle was a man of enthusiasm, as his own autobiographical remarks in Galatians 1:14 and Acts 22:3 attest. He was so enthusiastic about the gospel that some of the people in Corinth accused him of madness (see 2 Corinthians 5:13).

Faith and enthusiasm ought to mix

The person who never wonders at anything never does anything wonderful.

That helps to explain why the work of the Lord suffers so across the land. Thousands of people who profess a relationship with God through Jesus Christ have apparently failed to grasp what Christ has done for them and what their privileges are in Him.

That's why they come to church on Sunday morning with a face long enough to eat ice cream out of a pipe. You could ruin the greatest football team in the nation just by filling the grandstands for four consecutive games with the average Sunday morning congregation. No wonder other belief systems—New Age, Islam— continue to spread while the religion of Jesus Christ fails to keep pace with the population increase of the world.

It's not hard to find people with a passion for movies, opera, fashion, surfboarding, or computer games. But sometimes you'd be hard put to find the same kind of emotional response to the gospel of Christ. Next Sunday when you go to church, watch the average person as he comes in. He shuffles along, dragging his lower lip behind him. Then he slides into the pew and hangs his lower lip over the pew in front of him. He looks as happy as the skull and crossbones on an iodine bottle. No wonder he has no peace of mind.

Remember: You cannot act one way and feel another way. When you act sour, you become sour. Some people who profess "religion" have talked about it for so long in negative terms that those whom they influence have come to see it as blight.

I heard about a man who walked into a hotel lobby and stood beside another man at the room clerk's counter. The fellow eyed his neighbor for a moment, and then could not restrain himself from asking, "Are you a preacher?" "No," the other replied. "I've just been sick!"

And I can well understand the little girl who came home from Sunday school and, going up to Betsy, the mule, lovingly stroked her long head and said, "Bless you, Betsy, you must be a wonderful Christian. You look just like Grandma."

Not only is a lack of enthusiasm ruinous to the work of the Lord, it is also ruinous to happiness in the home, success in business, the making and keeping of friends, and achievement in any field.

Enthusiasm creates passion

There is no such thing as a well-adjusted personality apart from enthusiasm. There is no such thing as a satisfactory social relationship apart from enthusiasm. You reap what you sow. If you sow the wind you will reap the whirlwind. If you sow a deadpan expression, that is exactly what others will give back to you. For what you give out you receive back in kind, only to a greater degree. That's a fact borne out by long years of observation.

As the Bible wisely says: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Enthusiasm is like steam. It pressurizes, empowers, impels action. Many people never become enthusiastic over anything, therefore they never achieve anything. Their lives become idle and negative and worrisome.

You know people, and so do I, who constantly complain that they don't get enough sleep. They lament that they wake up every morning feeling as tired as when they went to bed. But what happens when they plan something they really want to do—a holiday, or a fishing trip? They are awake before the alarm sounds at four o'clock in the morning—and feeling great! The explanation? Enthusiasm! All things being equal, the person who is enthusiastic turns out twice as much work as the person who is listless.

Enthusiasm is the key to career success

No great work has ever been done without enthusiasm. Look around you at the great leaders of industry, the great media figures, the great sports personalities. Without exception, they are driven by enthusiasm. They focus on the one thing that motivates them, and the power of that motivation emerges in high performance.

To be sure, some people seem to be born with a greater capacity for enthusiasm than others. But that doesn't mean you can't cultivate it. You can develop enthusiasm. Concentrate your mind on a worthwhile goal until the attainment of that goal becomes your obsession.

The salesmen who succeed vibrate with enthusiasm. Their enthusiastic belief in the product they sell tur-bocharges their sales. Musicians who succeed beam with enthusiasm. Who can watch a great conductor at the head of one of the world's great orchestras, and not feel the enthusiasm that drives that person to prominence? I submit to you that achievement is impossible without enthusiasm.

If you go about your daily responsibilities in a listless and lackadaisical spirit, devoid of enthusiasm, I can tell you right here and now that you are doomed to mediocrity at best and failure at worst. Not only that, but your failure will create anxiety and worry, and that anxiety and worry will loop back to compound the failure and make it a permanent feature of your life. You will dig yourself into a hole.

You can be enthusiastic anywhere and in any circumstance

Remember that you cannot focus your attention upon two thoughts at the same time. When you are enthused, you focus your attention on positive thoughts that crowd out fears and worries. It doesn't matter how many things seem to be going wrong in your life. See, for instance, how much the apostle Paul could have complained about:

Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painful-ness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. —2 Corinthians 11:24-28

Did Paul worry? Did he fret? No! A godly enthusiasm delivered him from self-pity and worry. Ponder the poise he achieved through cultivating enthusiasm:

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but trot in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. . . .for which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, zvork-ethfor us afar more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. —2 Corinthians 4:8,9,16,17