Of the many lessons of adult life, one stands out to me perhaps above all the rest. I learn over and over that I really have no idea what’s going on in the lives of other people. They smile at me, shake my hand, answer “fine” to my “how are you?”, and we both pretend all is well.

You have those people around you too. Sure, you might know something about the players you coach or the teammates you have, but you know relatively little of their entire story. You only see the image they portray. You and I don’t see beyond that most of the time. We don’t see what they go home to, whether good or (often) bad.

If this is true, how then should we live? How then should we treat our players, teammates, and coaches?

Proverbs 15:23 gives one way: “A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word.”

In light of this verse, and the fact that we don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes with most people, here are a few suggestions.

1: Speak about more than baseball. Honestly, the questions guys have about the game can be answered by a thousand other people. You, however, might be the perfect person to provide an “apt answer” for something they’ve questioned for a long time. Do I matter? Why in the world has all this happened to me? Does anyone care about me other than what I can do for them on a baseball field? The list goes on and apt answers are needed.

2: Ask better questions. When was the last time, coach, that you spent time with a player just talking about his classes, his days a youth player, his parents, or whatever? When was the last time, player, you stopped to ask your coach how he’s doing, or about his kids, or what it was like to play “way back then”? When was the last time, teammate, you got beyond the typical locker room sarcasm and tried to find out how your teammate is doing after his parents’ divorce? Maybe it’s time to stop asking “how are you?” and start getting to know one another.

3: Speak life. You may be the water that rescues a dehydrated soul. You may be who God wants to use to help a young man whose life is crumbling. You may be the one who helps your coach keep going another day when he wants to give up. Speak life. Speak encouragement. Deliver a “timely word” to those around you.

Lord Jesus, give me your compassion for my players, teammates, and/or coaches. I need wisdom for apt answers and timely words. Amen.