inspirational baseball plays

Encouragement can come in several ways. Just a verbal word that breaths life into a person in the right moment, encouragement can be a hug, a smile, a word of support or a bible passage. It’s not common to get these affirmations in this busy world. But when you need a word and someone’s there to give it, it matters!

I’m reminded what Dick Howser said prior to my trade to Kansas City in January of ‘85. Dick was the manager of the Kansas City Royals. I was in Milwaukee with the Brewers at the time. Howser said, “if we get Jim Sundberg we will win the World Series”. The Royals had a young pitching staff and Howser believed if he got a veteran catcher to work with them it would make the difference he was looking to attain. Dick must have been prophetic because in October of ‘85 we were crowned World Champions. Those words stayed with me all year as we mounted several come from behind positions to win the prize. Nothing like words of encouragement. They pick the spirit up like water to a thirsty soul. 

When was the last time someone reached out to you? Has it been awhile since you put words of encouragement into another? Meaningful relationships are at the root of this interaction. We all desire to be lifted up with words that bring life to the soul. 

God speaks life into us as well! Four years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Those initial words, “you have cancer” spoke volumes I didn’t want to hear. Doctors cautioned me not to wait too long for taking action. There were some aggressive cells. But more importantly the words God spoke to me reversed all my concerns. 

Right before I entered the Doctors office to hear the news, I asked the Lord what was going on? He clearly spoke to me in my spirit and said, “there’s something there but I got it”! After spending 10 weeks of treatment in Loma Linda, California and now four years later, there is no sign of the cancer. Those words spoken to me in the spirit, served as encouragement during treatment, even though I heard some discouraging words spoken by doctors. Through these past several years I’ve been able to keep a positive attitude. One can bank on the words God speaks, they bring life! 

No one likes to be treated poorly by another, few respond well to harshness. Maybe some of basketball coach Bobby Knights players did but generally most respond to positive affirmations. But I’m also not talking about participation trophies. There are moments when kids need to be disciplined and times where grown ups need a kick in the rear. There is a balance but leaning toward encouragement matters. 

I played for sixteen mangers in sixteen MLB seasons and two of them twice. Eighteen manger changes in sixteen years. Think about that! Only a few spoke words that made you want to play hard.  When I look back at my career those that turned me loose and didn’t micro-manage got the most out of me. Just a passing smile from the manager speaks loud. A pat on the back went a long ways. 

We live in a world that often moves us toward thinking only of self. It is a compassionate mentality that gets us to think outside ourselves to reach out and encourage others. A relationship with Jesus matters when it comes to encouragement. 

Be encouraged today