Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Baseball & Life -- Part 2 -- PLAY WITH HONOR

There are only 8 days left until the pitchers and catchers of 6 teams report to training camp. In part 2 of the Baseball & Life series we look at the principle:


Always hustle, run out every ground ball and pop up, encourage your teammates, especially after an error, bad pitch or strikeout. Carry yourself with pride and dignity. Do not in frustration throw equipment. Do not ridicule another team or opposing player's name, physical appearance, or skill. Do not taunt. Do not distract an opposing player with low-level antics. Be positive with teammates. Never ridicule or criticize them. They need your rencouragment the most right after they make a mistake. Show your teammates, opponents, and the entire world the values you hold dear by how you play.

This is one that the most competitive of us love to give good lip service to. Especially when we see someone else exhibt poor behavior. When we engage in the poor action, there is always an excuse. We love to point out when the coach or player on the team we love to hate does something that is considered poor sportsmanship. If one "our guys" does something, we are quick to justify that behavior. And don't think for a minute that the ones we are leading and teaching do not pick up on it. A child who knows that they will be backed and supported no matter their behavior is a disaster in waiting. There is a huge difference in providing an expalination and giving an excuse for an action.
Especially in the eyes of God, how we win and lose is more important than whether we win or lose. How we carry ourselves both on and off the field of play determines how we are viewed by the world. Look at the lives of any handful of great baseball players you can think of. Is your personal reaction to them based solely on their on-field abilities and contributions? Doubtful.
To play with honor seems like a lost art in our culture. It is definately there if you look for it. It is often unfortunately not the normal behavior. I am hard pressed to think of the last time I watched a game and there was no yelling at an official, equipment thrown, taunting of the opposition, or some other ridiculous behavior. It has become accepted on the field and in the stands. Parents and fans are a whole other long discussion. Just because something has become widely accepted does not mean that it is the right thing to do. Those who choose to play with honor not only represent themselves, their teams, families, communities, and in some cases country well; they represent their God as a Christ follower well.
We let outside influence change our behavior and resposes too easily. Remind yourself often that the next bad throw, missed swing, or mental error could be your own. That should be enough in itself to give us more grace with our teammates. In this I am referring to real life situations. When co-workers and ministry partners fail to meet our expectations would the future outcome be better if we came alongside in support rather than making an assault on the problem?
This is where the principle of letting the coaches do the coaching comes to play. Contructive criticism (coaching) should come from the proper source. Just because I have an opinion on an issue does not mean that I have a duty or a right to share it with a teammate. That is for the coach to do. I have watched a number of baseball teams approach this from both directions. The most successful ones have all of the players pulling for one another and anything corrective or instructional comes from the coaching staff. Even the most talented teams fall short when this is not the case.
Two verses come to mind that apply:

7Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
Ephesians 6:7-8

28He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen

Ephesians 4:28-29

NEXT UP: Be Relentless.

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