Putting first things first in baseball and life

Posted on May 6, 2013 by


Baseball2Last week, I coached the season opener for the Sycamore Rockets; it was a game filled with thrilling moments for these young baseball players.  In fact, it was the first game ever for most of the players.  What set this game apart from any I’ve coached or even watched was not the “inside the park homer,” the boys with batting helmets and no mitts in the outfield, nor the boy who stepped up to bat wearing his mitt and holding a bat.  What set this game apart was when a 6 year old boy, Andrew, stepped up to bat, barely hit the ball into fair territory and ran to third base!

Every grown person knows you must run the bases in the appropriate sequence in order to score.  Recently I heard a presentation that modeled life as a baseball diamond* where significance is home plate, self is first base, someone is second base, and success is third base.  Although the idea is simple, it can have a profound effect on your leadership.  Most folks would agree that they desire success; however, success, when shared with no one, loses meaning.  Likewise, we do not reach success all by our selves.  Just as we must run the bases in the appropriate order in baseball, we must cover each base in life in the appropriate order.

The most fundamental truth to appropriate is that you are loved by God, created as His masterpiece to accomplish works He set out for you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and He sent His Son to redeem you.  Once that is understood, you can progress to first base where you work on your relationship with Jesus.  You spend time getting to know the Lord through spiritual disciplines and the means of grace.  You do this not to earn anything from the Lord, rather as a response to his love for you.  Continuing around the bases, you connect with someone.  Second base represents the horizontal plane of relationships that could represent friendship, marriage, a YL leadership team, your committee, or a business.  Community only functions properly when you have worked on (and continue to work on) self.  When you have a right understanding of who you are in Christ, endeavor to grow in your relationships with Jesus, and operate in a healthy community (on a team or in a relationship), then you are on track to achieve success.  The Lord can use this success to reveal significance, affirm His plan for you, and prepare you for other parts of your life journey.  You can only be successful if you run the bases in right progression.

When problems arise, it is helpful to analyze the situation by “running the bases backwards.”  When a team is not successful, you first must inspect the someone.  How is the team functioning?  (See Three C’s of Leadership February 27, 2013
by Mike Cramer).  The problem may be on the previous base.  If there are significant problems on the team, you must go back to self and take an honest look at yourself.  If an individual is the cause of the problems, you need to revisit home plate-significance-who he or she is in Christ.

Peter Drucker is credited with coining the phrase : ‘Leaders do the right things.’  Fundamental to this is taking the correct first step.  Are you experiencing success?  Does your success produce a lasting and satisfying effect?  Have you had a victory only to have the effect fade quickly?  How have you handled failure?  As a leader, have you gotten busy, lazy, or distracted from the simple daily discipline of “putting first things first?”  I know I sure have, and it is not always simple to correct course.  The next time things go awry, remember the baseball diamond illustration to help you diagnose your situation.

*Kevin Myers, Senior Pastor 12 Stone Church, Atlanta GA, presented at an Executive Roundtable at a John Maxwell Leadership Forum Ohio Christian University, Circleville OH