Life can be so complicated. Can anyone keep up with all the changes that seem to affect every aspect of life? Streams of information, some good and some utterly useless, bombard us every waking minute. I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep up with it all. I am being very transparent and opening myself up to ridicule, but I struggle with my smart TV and remote control. I am so thankful for tech support, which I humble myself regularly and call.
I wonder if there is any hope for those of us who are intellectually and emotionally dizzy from all the input we attempt to process. I wonder if the answer is to surrender my life to AI (Artificial Intelligence) and just let AI figure out the best algorithms for my life. Hmmm…I don’t think I want to go down that rabbit hole.
I do think I have found the best answer for my overly complicated life and maybe for yours also. Let me give you this word picture; it’s one of a star baseball player. (Note: I would ask that all you baseball connoisseurs not be overly critical of the picture. Thanks!)
From an early age, he had the potential of becoming a good baseball player. He worked hard at being the best he could be in Little League and High School. He wasn’t tough, but he excelled in fine-tuning his natural abilities. In college, he found himself on the second-string team and wondered if baseball was really a career for him. He invested more time in practicing, got extra coaching, and by his Junior year, he not only made the first string but was leading his team to winning. His motivation was contagious. He was recruited by multiple scouts and signed with his lifelong favorite team and quickly worked his way from the Farm Team to signing a contract with the Major League Team.
He begins the season by more than meeting his and the team’s expectations. He was knocking it out of the park nearly every time he got up to bat. His RBIs were off the chart. Life began to change, there were multiple interviews, fans to meet, press reviews etc. Life was becoming more complicated, but it didn’t really matter because this is what he had worked his entire life for and whatever he needed to do to maintain the dream. Bring it on!
By mid-season something strange began to happen; he found himself striking out more than he was hitting the ball. By the end of the season, he is striking out every time he goes to the plate. The batting coach sits down with the player to review the film. They start with the beginning of the season and go to the film at the end of the season. The coach said, “Stop the film. Look you just took your eye off the ball. Continue, stop the film, and look at your swing; you’re not swinging level.” The two basic skills of hitting a baseball weren’t being followed. The pressures and distractions of the game got him off track. He still had all his natural abilities. He still possessed all the skills of the years of practice and the muscle memory of hitting thousands of baseballs, but he just needed to come back to the basic elements of hitting a baseball, keeping his eye on the ball, and swinging level.
It is easy for us as pastors to become distracted with all the complications of life so we wonder why we are not hitting the ball like we used to. Maybe it is time to review the mental film, and be reminded that two basic principles of ministry are: “Love God and love people.” Can life and ministry be any more basic than this? Maybe it’s time to strip away all the distractions and complications of life and ministry and get back to keeping our eye on the ball and swinging level. Love God and love people! The basics!