When it comes to tackling things in life are you someone who likes to swing for the fences? It feels good when you set your mind to something and accomplish it quickly with fanfare. Why are we so quick to celebrate the big accomplishments, but ignore the small ones? What if the small accomplishments were just as important, if not more important, than the big ones? Instead of swinging for a homerun, maybe we need to think about playing “small ball.”
I was talking with a friend the other day and we were discussing some of the big dreams we know God has given us and others, but how it seems as if they’re not coming about. I know I have a timeline in mind as to when I should accomplish certain things, but it appears God has a different one. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going when you pour so much work into a project and only see small results, but God makes it clear how He views the small things.
Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)
Maybe it was the start of the World Series, or just that I’m a huge fan of sports to begin with, but my mind went to baseball. It’s fun to see players hit home runs, but analysts talk about how “small ball” is necessary to win championships in baseball. You need a team who can work together and trust each other to hit well enough to bring in runs one at time. Yes, having some sluggers for home runs is a need too, but having players who can hit singles and load the bases wears down the opposing pitcher because he has to throw more pitches. It’s demoralizing to the defense because they’re constantly coming up just short. The ball always flies just out of reach. Then, the crowd slowly gets bored and becomes more interested in overpriced hotdogs than the game.
As a hitter it’s fun to have a homerun. There is joy in rounding those bases and scoring a run knowing you hit that ball perfectly, but the moment is quickly over. While the person who crosses the plate gets credit for scoring a run, there is also an equally important statistic, RBI (Runs Batted In.) The person who hits the ball so another person can score is credited with batting that player in. That’s one of the things I like about baseball. You don’t pay attention to who just crosses home plate, you pay attention to the person who enabled them to do it. The thing is, it can sometimes be thankless. A runner slides into home plate just ahead of the ball and the players in the dugout run out to congratulate him. He gets the glory in that moment while the hitter is standing at first base watching it all.
Somehow during this conversation with Angela I remembered a rather “interesting” day on a baseball field. Ok, technically a softball field, but the same rules apply. A number of years ago I was on my church’s softball team. I wish I could say we were good that year. I can say we tried. Our first game was on a cold rainy Friday night in early May. The field was in a beautiful rural area; it was also at the bottom of a hill. (Did I mention it was really rainy that day?) I wasn’t sure if this was softball or some kind of hybrid water sport. Most of the outfield was best described as “squishy.” There was one section that I’m pretty sure was hiding the Loch Ness Monster. The other team didn’t even have enough players show up to field a full team but decided to play anyhow. They seemed so nice; we were so naive. (Or maybe we were just that bad.)
I know I wasn’t anywhere near being a good player, but I did enjoy hitting. While I’ve permanently blocked out the final score, I do remember how many runs we scored. One. We scored one run. I was so disappointed that I got thrown out going to third base I didn’t even realize something important. After the game the team was congratulating the player who scored that run. Then suddenly Jeremy spoke up. He said the team needed to congratulate me. (I wondered if the Loch Ness Monster had somehow messed with his brain. I mean what did I do?) He said they needed to congratulate me because I had the only RBI of the game. That was A Jesus Moment for me! It did keep us from being completely shut out. I contributed something.
Somehow a loss doesn’t sting quite as bad when you at least score one run. I was so focused on what I didn’t do (scoring a run) that I forgot I played a part in helping a run score. My hit, although seemingly ordinary and unimportant, actually counted. So did the hits of the others who got on base before me. That one run truly was a team effort. Who was I to be upset at what I didn’t accomplish? I was comparing myself to others instead of realizing I belonged. We may have had many individuals on that team, but we were one team. It’s just like this passage says:
Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 (NIV)
That makes it pretty clear doesn’t it? Every one of us has a place and something God has for us to do right now. It’s good to want to make a huge impact for the Kingdom of God, but we can’t always hit home runs.
If enough of us were faithful with what we think are small things, together we could change the world.
Maybe we need to remember we can and should swing for the fences sometimes, but when we focus on one base at a time it may be more effective. We have to trust others will be there to keep it moving. Just like in baseball, this life we’re living is a long game, and it’s a team effort. So, put down the peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and get in the game. It’s time to play ball.
I love hearing from you! Do you have some dreams you’re trying to accomplish? Are you like me and tend to forget how much the small things matter? Please leave a comment and share.
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