A Belt Without Notches

Over the past 25 years a lot of things have happened in my life. Some great (becoming a husband and father) and some not so great (attending the funerals of my dad and two brothers). I have owned a business, dabbled in real estate, been worth millions (on paper) and completely penniless when the housing market crashed. The one thing that has been consistent over the years, besides my faith in God, has been baseball.

During this time, I played both collegiately and professionally. I have coached at almost every level you can imagine from my son’s t-ball team to the professional level and ran baseball camps in multiple parts of the United States. The game has given me the chance to travel all over this beautiful country and possibly the coolest thing has been being a part of three World Series Championships (2001, 2012, 2014).

This spring I entered my eighth year coaching with the San Francisco Giants in the Minor Leagues. For the most part, we have enjoyed great success at both the Minor and Major League level since I have been here. We definitely want to win games and that is part of the development process, but the main objective in my profession is to help develop young men into future Major League players.

Taking credit for others success

I have worked with a lot of coaches over the years and regardless of the level they coach at, they all like to do one thing: tell stories. Personally, the stories I like the most are about the people they played and coached with as well as the players they coached. It’s a real treat when these individuals were players that I grew up watching. To get a behind the scenes look at what really happened is fascinating. Especially when it’s a piece of baseball history like Kirk Gibson’s famous home run in the 1988 World Series.

As much as I love these stories, I get annoyed with the coaches who take credit for the players they coached who got to the big leagues. If the player openly shares their appreciation and commends a coach helping them in their success it is one thing. As coaches we have the opportunity to make a great impact on players, but for us to say that we are the reason for the player’s success is nonsense.

One day after practice years ago I was at my locker, and I started thinking more about this. I took a long look at my belt and it reminded me of the stories I heard about the Old West. Supposedly when you won a gun fight you would put a notch in your belt to signify the victory. That is exactly what some coaches do when they take credit for a player’s success. They essentially treat the player as another notch in their belt. That is when I came up with the following quote and I have said it many times.

“My belt has holes in it, no notches”

Billy Horton

Allowing another to praise you

Now I realize that this mindset is not only in the athletic realm. I have worked in the business world and have seen what the corporate life looks like. People being proud of the accomplishments of someone else and treating it as their own success. It is one thing to be happy for their success and there is merit in that. It is another thing to be prideful and constantly looking for self-worth in what others do. It speaks of this in the book of Proverbs.

“Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.”

Proverbs 27:2 NIV

This is a pretty cut and dry statement from Solomon. I understand wanting to be recognized for what you do, especially by your boss. We want to have success and get promoted so we want to make sure someone like that finds out about it. In the world that we currently live in that is ripe with social media and huge self-promotion, you see it all the time. However, that is not living a life of faith. If promotion is to happen, it will come from God.

I believe a lot of times it boils down to this- what defines you as a person? I spoke about this a few weeks ago in the blog titled “Who are you working for?” Are you constantly judging who you are on things that you are not taking with you when you die? Things like your salary, title and accomplishments? Down deep does it matter to you more what people think about you, or the God who created you? If you totally trust in Him, then believe that what you do will be recognized by people without you saying a word.

Giving the credit to God

We have talked about athletics and business, but how about those Christians who take credit for those people they help lead to the Lord? We are called by God to share our faith with others, but not because we are keeping a tally on how many people change their lives by following God. This may sound crazy to you, but people do it. They take credit for the Holy Spirit’s job. We share our faith and encourage people to take the step towards God. The Spirit does the rest.

The Christian life is both wonderful and difficult. I am thankful for the path that I am on and for the men that have spoken into my life. This is the reason why I share my faith. I have lived a life of selfishness and pleasure in the past. Thinking of myself and not others. Looking at success through the lens of the world and not how Jesus sees it. I want others to know that there is a better life out there and to receive it you must humble yourself. I was once told that the definition of meekness is strength under control. I strive to model this.

If you think about it the one man who could brag the most out of anyone who walked the Earth was John the Baptist. He baptized Jesus for Pete’s sake! What did John say when people started to go to Jesus for baptism instead of himself? “He must increase, but I must decrease.” That dude was sold out for Jesus and he knew his place in this world. He was an amazing example of a servant.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30 ESV

Life is difficult and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful. However, I want to you think about how you can focus on success without worrying about being noticed. Here are some points to think about this week:

  • Work the same regardless of who is around you.
  • Focus on helping others.
  • Allow others to praise you.
  • Look for opportunities to share your faith with others.

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One Comment

  1. Patricia Roessler

    I praise you because you are trying hard to guide and help others. Great job…