Fall Classic

by Impact Church

Matthew 20: 26-28
26) But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27) And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28) Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Years ago, while leaning on a woven wire fence watching a youth rec league baseball game, (at a game where I knew no one and no one knew me, in a community I’d never been in before, and on a road my travels would have never had me on!) the concept of church leadership was unveiled to my yearning heart. Young in ministry and possessing far more zeal than knowledge, the true spirit of ministry was displayed on a baseball diamond with a bunch of precocious kids!

Providentially, inconveniently and unconventionally (don’t most revelations arrive in like fashion?), that tightly wound sphere of pastoral leadership and the mental struggles my fears created from ignorance concerning it, was unraveled and clarified by an analogy at a rural elementary school playground.

With seven year olds screaming as only seven year olds can scream, and seventy year olds competing quite well with them, I delved into the joys of a late summer evening of baseball with second graders! I loved baseball and kids, and being led there, I settled in for some country competition. Little did I know.

The team with yellow jerseys was at bat and the red jerseyed team was in the field, when #3 hit a shot to deep right center! Rounding first and heading for second, pudgy #3 tripped and fell head first onto that hard, dusty baseball infield. Inglorious as that spill may have appeared to seven year olds, what happened next, to this grown man, became the teachable moment of a lifetime!

Crying, hurt and refusing to get up, the red team’s second baseman, #9, threw down his glove and ran to #3’s rescue! “Get up, Shane, run!” (Shane was a cool name back in the 80’s). “They’re gonna get you out if you don’t run!” Pulling him up with all his might and loudly encouraging him to run and keep running (you’ll remember seven year olds don’t close the gap between outfielders very well, so it’s still quite a show at the fence in right center!), #9 is physically pushing #3 around the bases! “Hurry Shane, run! If you’ll keep running you can get a home run! Run, Shane, run!”

And Shane keeps running. And #9 is running. And they both reach home plate together! And #9, the second baseman, is congratulating #3, the batter, for his home run!

And everybody’s screaming! And there’s a red and yellow mosh pit at home plate!

And I noticed there were some fans that weren’t very happy that day.

And then, the Holy Spirit said I could leave.

But it’s just the first inning!…

Drive back out to the four lane and go home, son… It’s been a long day.

Yes sir…

So I walked back out to the parking lot where the school buses, minivans and station wagons were parked.

And I got in my pickup truck.

So on the hour long drive home, I listened to the Holy Spirit. This is what I heard:

1) We’re all 2nd graders. We all go to the same school.
2) Different colors promote the sport, not the teams. Distinctions are a plus.
3) Children love to play. Be a child. Stay a child. And love children.
4) We’re all susceptible to tripping. So be ready to drop your glove.
5) Outsiders will try to make ministry competitive. Don’t compete. Compliment.
6) Wanting to win builds cultures of competition. That building will fall.
7) Competition inspires the spirit of superiority. The Holy Spirit never will.
8) To hit home runs is to help others succeed. Home runs are good. And limitless.
9) You can rejoice in another’s gift without losing your own. Rejoice with others.
10) No one keeps score when love is the objective. To love others is to win.

All that I ever was to know about team ministry and church building and supporting others, was on display that day. And, we, at Impact Church, are also experiencing those real life scenarios that little rec league game demonstrated. The greater peace found in blessing others, and the greater reward found in lifting others has been evidenced and in full force of late. As Pastors and Elders, we couldn’t be more honored to see that type of love in such full array!

We thank God always for your faithful attention to the things that make for peace and wholeness, the virtues that make His House the envy of the world.