Of all the things that baseball teaches, one often-overlooked lesson is that of long term patience. Imagine this: a team is down five runs in the fourth inning. What are their options? Whatever their realistic strategic and tactical options may be, none of them include hitting a five-run homer. It simply can’t be done, no matter how hard a player tries at the plate. Therefore, the team is forced to take a diligent approach to scoring runs, doing what they can each inning to get back in the game and take the lead. Baseball teaches those who pay attention to take a long term approach; don’t give up too easily, don’t assume victory too soon, keep grinding, be patient, work hard.
Unfortunately, some take a “now-only” approach to the game. This results in bad swings, poor plate discipline, sacrificing long term results for short term gains, parents and coaches ruining young players in order to win now, and many other negative side effects. In some cases, as we see at many levels of baseball, some players and trainers sacrifice everything, including their integrity and long term health, for the prospect of immediate performance and pay days.
Here’s an interesting verse from Proverbs 28:6–“Better to be poor and honest than to be dishonest and rich” (NLT) This is tough. If a person wants rewards now, they are possible; but, they are also often very costly. The biblical standard is to refuse to sacrifice what is most important in the long run for what brings immediate results. Each of us must make a choice on this. We face it in a variety of areas every day. On the field, in the classroom, outside the lines, everywhere.
You will sacrifice something in the short term for something in the long term every time you make an important (or maybe any!) decision. Proverbs tells us that one man decides to keep his integrity, even if it means being poor, while another chooses material gain over his character.
Jesus spoke about this same thing, putting it into eternal perspective in Luke 9:25–“What is a man benefited if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (HCSB)
Here’s a prayer:
Lord Jesus, because I am human, I am tempted to sacrifice things that really matter, things that you value, for immediate gain. Most of these immediate gains don’t last, but I need your help. I don’t want to give myself to things that have no long term value, even if that means I sacrifice what seems to matter most to this world. Jesus, enable me to give up what this world offers so that I can live with integrity and please you. Amen.