Sports have been a passion of mine since I donned my first jersey for West Branch Little League back in 1982. I remember being so excited when the coach was passing them out and I probably wore it for an entire week. The jersey itself wasn’t anything special to look at. It was a polyester V-neck and we didn’t have an MLB team mascot like the Tigers, Yankees or Angels. The names of our teams were colors and we were Maroon, but that didn’t matter at all to me. It just felt so amazing to be on a team and have the opportunity to go out and compete in the sport I loved.
As I grew older, my uniforms started to mean even more to me. When I wore my Cactus High School jersey back in the early 90’s, the front of my jersey meant something. I carried a lot of pride playing for my school and I wanted to win and bring home a state championship more than anything. It didn’t matter if I went 0-4 or got 4 hits. Winning for my school is what mattered. Our coaches invested a lot of time in us and the young men who played before us established a tradition for us to follow in. We didn’t have our names on the back of our jerseys back then, but even if we did, playing for the name on the front of it meant so much more.
Putting Myself Fourth
When people talk about “being others minded”, what does it really mean and how often do we do it in a given week, much less a day? I feel like humans are selfish by nature and from the time we were babies putting up a fuss, we are looking out for numero uno. You can say that the team is more important, but after you hit a 3 run homer to win a game and you are pointing your thumb downward behind your neck as you circle the bases, you are sending a different message. We have to become more self-less and less self-ish.
When I was an amateur and professional athlete, I was single for my entire life, minus the random girlfriend here and there. My focus was always on the sport I played, and I dedicated a lot of time off the field in trying to perfect my craft. Shoot, I didn’t even go on a date until I was 19. I knew the window to play collegiately and professionally was very small, and I didn’t want anyone getting in my way. This may sound a little harsh and cruel, but I didn’t want a relationship with a woman to sidetrack my dreams of playing in the big leagues. In a way you could say that I was selfish, but this was “my time” and I knew if I didn’t give it everything I had, I would probably hold it against anyone who diverted my focus.
Things didn’t go as planned with a big league career, but I will always cherish what happened later in life. Two of the greatest decisions I ever made was to ask Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior and for Taleen to marry me. Both of these decisions are completely different, but they have three major things in common; they both require humility, complete commitment, and the ability to put others before you. This is when I learned to live with more of a selfless attitude. The priorities in my life went from being first to fourth once Connor, our first son, was born. Now Christ was first, Taleen was second, our boys were third, and I was fourth. Now you might be asking yourself, what does that look like? Here is my opinion.
- Jesus Christ #1– I do my best to model His life while He was on earth and be a loyal and humble servant to Him.
- Taleen (Wife) #2– I put her interests before mine and try to help her in all facets of our life, knowing that she will do the same for me.
- Connor & Bryce (Children) #3– I make myself available and spend time with them in the things they enjoy.
- Me #4– It is still important to make time for yourself, but you will notice when you are constantly pouring into others, spending time with them is more enjoyable than on your own.
Putting Jesus #1 in your life is when you really start living for the “front of the jersey”. You put your full trust in Him and the plan He has for your life. You want to live within His will and fulfill the purpose He has mapped out for you to bring glory to His name. Your main goal is to please and serve Him with your actions and words as well as be a good steward of the people and possessions He has entrusted to you. His plan may not be what you envisioned for your life, but as you continue down the path you will see all of the blessings He is bestowing upon you, and areas where he kept you from harm.
If you feel like you are a puzzle that is missing a piece, maybe it’s because God is absent from your life. I encourage you to reach out to friends that you know are dedicated believers and if you don’t have anyone like that, reach out to me. We were created to help one another and be an example of the one who created us.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”Galatians 2:20, ESV
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