Athlete, Think Small Sometimes


Athlete, Think Small Sometimes

Jason Cooper

1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NIV)

... make it your ambition to lead a quiet life …

We recently took a family vacation to St. Louis. We went to a Cardinals game in beautiful Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis. 

When the Cardinals were up to bat and ahead by one run, there were two outs with a runner on third base. As a hitter, I was taught, with a runner on third with two outs, you do anything to hit the ball to the outfield, because that means the runner on third will score. 

If you have to choke up on the bat, you do it. If you have to throw your bat at the ball, you do it. All you have to do is hit the ball 100 feet, over the infielders heads. You don’t need to take a picturesque swing, when an awkward swing gets the job done. 

Instead of using the approach I was taught, which is called small ball, the Cardinal hitter swung for the fences. He wasn’t trying to hit the ball 100 feet, but 400 feet. And I see why. Singles don’t make SportsCenter or earn big contracts, home runs do. 

Maybe the baseball strategy I explained didn’t make sense to you. But here’s the universal application. The Cardinal hitter was thinking big, when thinking small would’ve got the job done. 

But after two big swings and misses, he shortened his swing and got a hit over the infielders heads to score the runner. Job done.

All sports are that way, not only baseball. And it’s not just sports, it applies to life in general. The appeal of the literal and figurative home run is strong. 

Ten likes and views isn’t enough, then a thousand isn’t either. Lifting 225 pounds isn’t enough, then 300 isn’t either. There’s a difference between working hard to maximize our abilities and getting lost in the pride of life (1 John 2:16). 

When we are lost in the pride of life, we are prone to over emphasize the sensational and downgrade small ball. We lose sight of what is going on around us and fixate on the grandiose. 

We esteem the picturesque and forget the rest. And let’s be honest, the picturesque is not an honest depiction of life in general, it’s just a snapshot of the rare. 

You might know the Bible verse that says, “… make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” (1 Thessalonians 4:11). Ambition can also be translated to mean aspiration, goal, strive earnestly, to seek to lead, be diligent and vie. 

With all due respect to the metaphorical home run, what if you vied to take an awkward swing? What if it was your goal to honor messy reality and not idolize rare perfection? 

What if it was your goal to have only five likes or views? What if you sought for no one to notice you? What if you strove earnestly to hit the ball 100 feet, not 400? 

Athlete, it takes big character to delight in small feats.


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