Think back to when you started to learn how to drive. Your parents or grandparents probably took you somewhere that was large and empty so you could focus on driving without many distractions. For me it was my Mom and the St. Raphael’s Church parking lot. I would slowly wind through the lot, learn to use the turn signal and worked on changing my right foot from the gas pedal to the brakes.
The next step was to drive on roads. We went to Sun City which is a retirement community. Drivers were slower, but still just as grumpy when you made a mistake. This was where I was taught to glance at the rearview mirror to make sure what was going on behind me. However, if I got caught looking into it too long, I lost focus on what was in front of me and my Mom would give me a “BILL!”, just before I hit the car in front of us.
The key word I want you to grab hold of in that last paragraph was glance. When I spent too much time paying attention to what was going on behind me, I stopped looking through the windshield of my car and focusing on where I was going. People do this often when they spend their day focusing on what could have been due to past mistakes, versus on what they need to do to move forward and be successful now and in the future.
Let’s face it we’re guys so growing up we would compete and compare things with each other. We would talk trash on the basketball court and then lie about all the girls that we didn’t really hook up with. Eventually someone would bring up how much bigger they were than everyone else and well, you know what I mean. Remember this is a men’s blog your reading so I will always push the envelope with my references and jokes while keeping my Christian integrity intact…
Think about the size difference in the windshield of your car versus your rearview mirror. It’s huge right?! Now correlate that to your life experiences and your future. The rearview mirror is important because we need to think back and draw on those experiences to help us make wise decisions now and in the future. However, if we get caught dwelling on them, especially negative experiences, we are subject to falling into a rut and telling ourselves we can’t accomplish our dreams.
Looking through the windshield of life is where our main focus needs to be. Setting goals is important. I believe we need a good balance of lofty goals that we strive for and mid-range goals that are more certain of being accomplished. Small victories are important in gaining self-confidence. Putting limitations on yourself can be an absolute killer. Sometimes the person who doubts you the most is yourself. I wrote about this recently is a blog titled “Keep Pushing”.
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 3:13-14 ESV
Learning to Ride Shotgun
Most of my life I tried to do things on my own. I was the youngest of eight kids, but by the time I was 7, all my older siblings had moved out of the house. My parents and I lived out in the country and the nearest stoplight was twelve miles away. I had friends who lives a short bike ride away, but all of the kids that I went to school with lived closer to town. I played at home alone with action figures, collected baseball cards, stamps, coins and did a lot of puzzles. My dad worked different shifts at the oil refinery so there were times when he slept during the day and overall, we rarely played together. My parents fought a lot and when they got separated, I was thrust into manhood at 12 and usually came home to an empty house.
I was a skinny kid who at times got picked on by classmates and had major self-confidence issues. My dad and I only spoke on Sundays after my parent’s divorce and I didn’t really have any strong men speaking into my life. Sometimes a coach would fill the void for a short period of time, but I dealt with anger issues and became extremely hard on myself. Every time I made an out on the baseball field I would steam in the dugout. It was a performance-based lifestyle that no one could measure up to and I made myself miserable. After a while I felt like maybe I was destined to be a failure because I always kept thinking about what has happened to me. I kept looking in the rearview mirror.
I grew up Catholic and in my mid-twenties I started to attend non-denominational Christian Churches. My brother Tommy gave me a bible for Christmas and my faith started to grow. I always knew God was with me during my difficult times, but now I was understanding His word and all the blessings He had stored up for me. Up to that point I lived a life of always looking over my shoulder waiting for something bad to happen. Now I learned that God had so much more for me if I submitted to Him. I got baptized when I was 31 and fully committed my life to Him. It was time to let Him take the wheel and trust Him with my life.
I learned about fasting almost 20 years ago and made it a monthly discipline. I would not eat for 24 hours and only drink water while I prayed for things in my life and intercede with prayers for others. A few times I would stretch myself by going 2 or 3 days when times were tough, and I was searching to hear God’s voice. It was a sacrifice to God. About 10 years ago, one of my pastors, Scott Adams, said a very wise thing regarding people fasting. He said that “A fast without prayer is a diet.” I love that quote and recite it often. It puts things into perspective on why we are even doing it.
“A fast without prayer, is a diet.”Pastor Scott Adams
Life was tough in 2011. We lost our home and our three rental properties when the housing market crashed a few years earlier and our finances were a mess. Taleen was working for a small salary at our church and I was grinding away at our baseball business. We were barely making ends meet. I felt like God wanted me to keep running the business, but I needed another job. I interviewed for high school and college positions in the Phoenix area, but all the doors shut in my face. In August I started to reach out to all 30 major league teams via phone and email looking for a coaching position. For 3 months I got back a bunch of no’s and a few maybe’s.
Taleen and I decided to fast together. I went for one day, but she decided to go for three. I saw her struggling on the third day as I was eating dinner and I felt like I needed to do more. I walked our dogs later that night and prayed. By the time I got home I decided that I would fast for the next seven days and pray for God to deliver me a position. Over that time, I would tell Taleen how I was looking forward to starting my new job and going to Spring Training in March. I prayed specifically for a hitting coach position in rookie ball with the SF Giants and claimed it as my own. It was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done and after 7 days, I was 15 pounds lighter and I still had no job.
At this point I gave everything to God and stopped contacting teams. I continued to pray about our situation but stopped stressing out and dwelling on it. I chose to look forward through the windshield of my life and work at making our business the best it could be. Seven weeks later the phone rang, and it was the Giants. They were interested in interviewing me and they said if I was going to get hired, it would happen quick. I went through three phone interviews in three days and was told to go throw batting practice to some of our players at the minor league complex. After that I waited for the phone to ring. A few days later it did, and I accepted the rookie ball hitting coach position. The exact job I prayed for.
Over the next three seasons I received three championship rings. The 2012 World Series, 2013 Arizona League Championship, and the 2014 World Series. Since the Giants hired me, our Arizona Rookie Ball team has a winning percentage over .600 and we are currently 21-4 this season. All I wanted was to try and get a high school or college job to help support my family. God had a better plan for us.
I journaled during the fast and that journal turned into the book “7 Day Fast”. If you would like a copy of it please CLICK HERE to be taken to the authored works page on our website. You can get a signed copy directly from me or also purchase it in print or electronic form on Amazon.
Life is tough and as men we are called to persevere through these times and lead our families. We can’t do this alone so here are some points to think about this week:
- Surround yourself with a small group of strong men who you can go to for advice.
- Work towards your goal and when you feel like you’ve done all you can, give your situation to God.
- Pray specifically for your situation and where you want to go in your life. When you line up with God’s will, you will be blessed more than you ever thought.
- Get into the word of God daily by reading the bible on a consistent basis in the morning and/or at night.
- Try fasting for a day and remember to pray during this time.
I want to thank Pastor Lee Allen Jenkins for the message he gave at Impact Church this past Sunday titled “The Faith to Move Forward”. It inspired my blog entry this week.
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