With a firm foundation of support, Kristi and Jeff Hart are devoted to each other and their community.
by Jennifer Jordan
“You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want.” This Zig Ziglar quote about servant leadership is the hallmark of Jeff and Kristi Hart’s life together. Their 29-year marriage thrives on the security of a strong faith and gratitude for God and each other, and a desire to support other people.
Texarkana natives, Jeff and Kristi both graduated high school in 1984, she from Texas High and he from Arkansas High. They earned degrees from Texas A&M-Texarkana, she a Bachelor’s in Business Administration, and he a Masters in Business Administration. Jeff moved Kristi to the Arkansas side of town after marriage, but he has yet to encourage her to “call the Hogs.”
The Harts are devoted to the Texarkana community. Kristi recently retired after working 30 years as the Director of Continuing Education for Texarkana College, a career she loved. Kristi found it “fun being involved in providing educational programs that helped others achieve their lifelong learning goals in all stages of life.” She currently enjoys working part-time at TC. Jeff currently works for a SAP consulting firm that supports the United States Army. Most of his career has been spent supporting the U.S. Army warfighter, whom he reveres. “The work has been so rewarding when you know your customer is the soldier in the field fighting for freedom!,” Jeff exclaims.
At the start of Jeff’s SAP career, Jeff worked for Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation as the Director of Reporting and Analytics. He had the benefit of announcing Bo Pilgrim at speaking engagements and credits Pilgrim as a role model. “He always had myself and others pass out Bibles at his speaking engagements. He was very bold with his ‘witness.’ This was a great encouragement to me in my own ‘witness.’” Jeff recounts a time that he traveled with Pilgrim, and Jeff remarked how great it must be to have just become a billionaire. “‘Jeff, having money is good but my first business is always about, ‘Being about my Father’s business.’” When he was in public, he would pass out a religious track with $20 bills in them. I asked him, ‘Why do you put money in the track?’ He said, ‘If a little money blesses someone and encourages them to read my track about the plan of salvation, then maybe it will help them make the best decision of their life.’ Blessing others and leading others to Christ is, ‘Being about his father’s business.’ What an awesome opportunity to learn from a great man and a legend!”
Jeff also owns a motivational speaking and coaching business, which developed out of his admiration and respect for Zig Ziglar, the late beloved motivational coach and speaker. In 2018, Jeff became a Ziglar Certified Legacy trainer, one of only 300 such people in the world. Jeff teaches courses such as “Being the Best You” and “Building Winning Relationships.” “It’s a tremendous opportunity, to represent the Ziglar family and their father’s legacy,” Jeff comments. “This certification has opened up opportunities to serve/teach companies as well as individuals. This training has reinforced positivity, humbleness, and servanthood in our family.” The Ziglar Certified Legacy Training reflects the Harts’ spirit of gratitude and Christian service. Jeff recalls that when he graduated from the program, “the Ziglar family presented me with a lapel pin with the symbol of a fish. Drawn through the fish symbol is the number 7. Zig Ziglar designed the pin knowing people would ask: ‘What does the pin mean?’ Zig would answer, ‘The fish means that I am a Christian. The 7 is a reminder that I am to practice my faith all 7 days of the week.’ Zig knew at that point there would be an opportunity to talk about our faith in a nonthreatening way to friends, family and even complete strangers.”
Zig Ziglar’s legacy has left a mark on Jeff, who draws upon Tom Ziglar, son of Zig and CEO of Ziglar, Inc. as a source of inspiration. “He has taught me so much not just about business and speaking, but life! He taught me his mission statement: ‘My mission is to help you become significant by equipping you to help others become significant.’ This mission is why I love the Ziglar Legacy Certification program.”
Jeff also relies on this quote from Zig: “You are where you are and what you are because of what’s gone into your mind; you can change where you are and what you are by changing what goes into your mind.” This statement challenges Jeff to open each day with prayer and positivity. It also aligns with one of his favorite Scriptures, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
God has worked for the good of Jeff and Kristi’s life. Kristi’s favorite Scripture from Proverbs honors this, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” (Proverbs 16:9). The Harts’ greatest reward is serving Christ and each other. “I re-fall in love with Kristi every day of my life. Besides my salvation, she is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Jeff remarks. They are each other’s rock and seek to improve each other’s life daily. “Marriage is a covenant we took before God. We both did not understand how serious that was and what a challenge marriage would be,” Jeff notes. “We are not perfect, but with God’s help we have overcome many obstacles and challenges in our marriage. The lessons we have learned have opened so many ministry opportunities to help others.
One thing we have always lived by is to never mention the ‘divorce’ word in our marriage and always put God first!” Kristi and Jeff are both humbled and amazed by the ways that God has used them to help others. Jeff is an ordained Baptist deacon and taught Bible study at Trinity Baptist Church for over 15 years. He and Kristi have served as youth ministers at both Highland Park Baptist Church and Cross Pointe Baptist Church. With 25 other couples, they helped to start Cross Pointe Baptist Church. “What a rewarding challenge that was,” Jeff states. “Servanthood is a big part of our lives.”
When they are not working, the Harts enjoy spending time with family and friends, and riding around town with a good milkshake. They have three cats and two German Shepherds. Kristi enjoys photography and working in the flower beds. Jeff serves as pulpit fill-in preacher at several local Baptist churches and enjoys live music concerts. They both love to travel, and trade off supporting each other’s interests—for Jeff, live music concerts, and for Kristi, shopping.
The Harts hope that anyone reading their story “will count their blessings until their gratitude bucket is full. If you or someone you love is in a struggle, take courage and press on because, as the Hart family has learned, it is in the depths of the struggle that God reveals His eternal blessings.” With advice such as this, Jeff and Kristi Hart continue to serve others in the name of Christ.