It’s almost here. In a short few weeks, practices and games will signal the beginning of another baseball season. None of us has any idea what the season will hold. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Sometimes it will rain. What if in the midst of the wins, losses, rainouts, hits, strikeouts, errors, and great plays, there was a way for this season to be different than all the ones before it? What if, no matter what the season brings, it was incredible? I believe it’s possible. I believe that the greatness of the upcoming season isn’t dependent on success or failure, but on who you are, because wherever you go, there you are. I believe there’s a secret to this season, one that few people will ever access. I believe the secret to having a great season is found in how Jesus approached life.

Here’s what he did. Do these things and this season will be incredible, regardless of wins and losses.

Jesus spent time with his Heavenly Father. On many occasions, Jesus spent time with the Father alone. It was vital to his soul, his decision making, his identity, and his strength. Without time alone with the Father, Jesus (humanly speaking) would have wound up as empty as you and I feel sometimes. This season will be a long one. It won’t always be easy. You need time spent in prayer and worship.

Jesus knew the Word of God. Of course, Jesus was God in human flesh, but he also took on the limitations of a human body, meaning there were things he needed to fill his brain with as he grew older. He filled his mind with the Word of God. He knew the Scripture backward and forward and used it to fight off temptation, to teach what was true, and to correct the errors he spotted. Coach, player, parent…are you prepared for the bombardment of temptations and lies that will attack you this season? Until you’ve filled your mind with the truth of God’s Word, you’re not. Let this be the season that you get into the Scripture before every day begins.

Jesus loved sacrificially. The people he loved didn’t deserve it. They hadn’t earned it. They wouldn’t always love him back. Instead, they denied, betrayed, and crucified him. Still, even while hanging on the cross, he forgave and loved them. Incredible. His love wasn’t about warm feelings and clichés. His love was about action. He had the power to heal, raise the dead, and die for the sins of the world. So he did. You have the power to encourage, give, meet needs, and love your players and teammates in a variety of ways. No, they don’t deserve it. No, they haven’t earned it. No, they won’t always love you back. Jesus would love them anyway. What about you?

Jesus didn’t try to prove himself to everyone. People were constantly asking him to do things, to prove who he was. Yet, he never performed for them. He never gave a sign when it was demanded. His goal was to please his Father, to do the Father’s will, and to do that will at the time pleasing to the Father. Proving himself to anyone but the Father never entered his mind. I’ll admit, this is easier said than done for us. But what if you took a step in that direction this season? What if, instead of trying to prove you’re a great coach or a great player, you simply let Jesus live his life through you? What if you just rested in the grace of God, knowing that he is already pleased with you based on the life and death of Jesus? It seems to me that there’s great freedom in no longer proving yourself, but in simply enjoying what Jesus has done for you.

Jesus enjoyed life. He showed up at weddings, went to gatherings with his friend, and was even accused of being sort of a party animal. All the while, he never sinned, never brought dishonor to the name of God, and never backed down when people criticized him for being around “those” people. Let’s not forget that baseball, while so very important to us, is a gift from God to be enjoyed. So, take it seriously, work hard at it, give yourself fully to it, but don’t forget to enjoy it along the way.

This season can be different, even if the circumstances around you never change, even if you win less than you want, strike out more than you want, have an ERA that creeps higher than you want. This season can be different if YOU are different.