Yesterday Jake’s travel team went out to Bloomfield for a double header. It was a long hot day, but the boys did incredibly well. The played up a level – we’re a team of 7’s & 8’s with two 9 yr. olds, and we played teams with 8’s and mostly 9’s. In addition, it was the first time we had ever done kid pitch (vs. coach pitch, which usually begins at the 9yr. old level). We won both games, which was amazing. But, something hit me yesterday – a parallel between how we often encourage and coach kids in sports and how we coach people in their spiritual lives.
Jake was the first kid to take the mound for us. Everyone – coaches, parents, teammates – was incredibly encouraging. The most oft repeated phrase, from the kids and parents (including me) was “just throw strikes”. He did. But I doubt he went up to the mound thinking, “should I throw strikes or balls?” The question wasn’t a matter of volition, but ability. He, and every other pitcher, wants to throw strikes. But how? Sometimes one of the coaches would offer helpful advice – adjust your sights, finish your pitches, etc. (thanks Matt). But most of us just offered the same cliche piece of wisdom – throw strikes.
It happens at every level, from the older kids to the tballers, and on the other end of the deal too. Just hit the ball. No kidding – but how?
How often do we adopt the ‘just do it’ mentality or offer this simplistic wisdom when it comes to spiritual matters? More than I would probably like to admit. To the person struggling with porn, we say, ‘just quit it’. To the person who’s afraid to share their faith, we urge, ‘just be bold’.
Granted, sometimes we need to be reminded of the simple things. The kid whose over-thinking every pitch and stressed about where to put the ball into play may need to hear, ‘just do it’. But the kid who’s walked the bases loaded needs more than that. The kid who’s struck out 9 times in a row needs more insight than just hit the ball. Similarly, the person who is indulging in sin or just being lazy may need the reminder to ‘just ___________.” But rare are those instances.
More often, as spiritual friends, we need to have better answers, or admit we don’t. Put away the cliches. Remember, and remind others, that we can’t ‘just do it.’ We can’t do what we called to do. Don’t give the religious ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ mentality get a foothold. Moralism is a friend of phariseeism, but not of genuine faith or holiness (holiness without faith is, after all, a sham). Remember, you need God’s provision – his grace, his power, his Spirit – to obey God’s commands.
So, step in and help the brother dissect where their spiritual swing is off – where is God’s grace being offered but not made avail of? Where are the hic-ups in their delivery – where are the relying on self instead of Spirit. Most importantly, how can we abide more in Christ, since without this “you can do nothing.”
Don’t pull a Newhart: