Take the Shot

Ok guys let’s get real. When the pressure is on do you want to be the one who makes the final call? Those of us who answered yes are ready to answer the bell when the opportunity arises. As athletes we want the ball in our hands when the clock is running down and take the game winning shot. Put us on the mound in the 9th inning with a one run lead. When it’s 4th and goal on the one-yard line, give us the handoff. Personally, I would rather come up short, then sit on the sidelines afraid to try. The great Wayne Gretzky has the famous quote “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” That’s about as clear cut as it gets. 

There is always a risk-reward scenario when we are involved in a difficult situation. Typically, the higher the risk, the greater the reward. However, the “failure” that ensues in case things don’t fall in our favor can also be pretty high. I put failure in quotes for a purpose. I think the word in itself is up for discussion. Should you really be labeled a “failure” if you tried your very best, but came up short? I believe effort and intent needs to be factored into this. It’s one thing if you didn’t prepare well and blindly jump into something. It’s another to prepare well and end up not reaching your goal. Let’s talk about having the guts to take the shot and also wise ways to do it.

Surround Yourself with Wise Counselors

Preparation is a major key to success. The best athletes usually have an excellent work ethic and are very diligent when preparing before, during and after their season. They have a pre-season program to prepare them for the long grind, the in-season program to keep them at a peak level for as long as possible, and a post-season program to help build speed, strength and endurance when they lace it up for the next year. While preparing their body and mind is very important, they don’t do this on their own. There are coaches and trainers that help them in this process. They surround themselves with people who can help them achieve greater levels than they could on their own.

Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

Proverbs 11:14 NASB

The same principle can be applied on the coaching end of sports. When I am the manager or head coach of a baseball team, my inner circle should include individuals who possess different gifts but have the same vision that complements my coaching philosophy. At the professional level when I am the manager, I need someone who excels in the art of pitching and throwing mechanics to be my pitching coach. My hitting coach should have a great understanding of how to teach the offensive side of the game and be a “cage rat”. When hiring other assistant coaches, it would behoove me to select people who have different defensive backgrounds than my own. Having people who excel in infield, outfield, or catching allows us to cover all the positions on the field. Even though they are “assistant coaches” their input will be extremely valuable when I need to make final decisions.

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Proverbs 15:22 NIV

Have the Guts to do it

Easier said than done, but when it comes down to it our actions will speak louder than our words. We can talk all day about how we want to change careers, start our own business, or make the difficult decision to move across the country for a job offer. However, all that talk means nothing until we actually do it. I’m not sure where I heard it from, but the following quote is so simple yet so true- “Change isn’t change until you make a change.” If we want to move on from or to something, whether it be a career or a relationship, nothing changes until we take action. We need to assess all of the details and then finally make a decision. That’s when we allow God’s blessings to come forth.

In August of 2005 while living in Michigan, I was on my face praying during a very difficult time in my life and God gave me the word “CACTUS”. I didn’t know what it meant, but I was praying about baseball, so I filed it away mentally. In February of 2006, I took a 4-day trip to Arizona and made the decision that when the time was right, I would move there and get back into coaching. A month later I was fired from my job. I started to pray intently about what I needed to do, and I heard God say “GO!” That started me on 10-day journey where I proceeded to sell pretty much everything I owned.

I was fired on a Monday and for the rest of my week I feverishly met with different people to sell my own items, including my 1999 Ford Thunderbird, and I bought a 2003 Explorer. That Sunday I went to church excited to tell my pastor about my plans. During the worship service the band was killing it as usual, and the chorus of the last song was “Christ within us”. I heard God say the word “CACTUS” again and this time I knew what it meant, so I wrote it down in my notebook. It became the name of our business and the acronym stands for Christian Athletic Camps, Christ (t) within US

Cactus Athletics Logo

Pastor Lee Cummings was so excited for me and said I was starting a ministry out of this church. I didn’t get what he meant at the time, but I fully realized it later on. Baseball is just the vehicle I use to bless others with Jesus. The way I carry myself and allow others to see Jesus inside me through my action and words is my true calling. If I didn’t take the leap of faith to leave Michigan and drive 2,000 miles out to the desert of Arizona to start a baseball company, none of the blessings I have today would have been bestowed upon me. One of the ways to truly be in God’s presence and understand what He has for you is to put your words into action and “TAKE THE SHOT’! 

Here are some things to apply to your life this week:

  • Prioritize your day and spend time with God every morning before you pick up your phone and evening before you go to sleep.
  • Start praying about your calling in this world. What one thing did God create you to do to help others and glorify Him?
  • Surround yourself with a strong inner circle of wise men who compliment you.
  • Find a wise man to pour into your life. Spend time with him in person or over the phone weekly.

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