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About Mike Scioscia of the Anaheim Angels baseball team:
"He brings instant credibility... When he says something, people listen."
Is that what we would like people to say about Christians? About ourselves as Christians and especially about ourselves as Seventh-day Adventist Christians?
Instead we hear chuckles when Ghandi is quoted as saying "I'd be a Christian if I could ever meet a Christian." And too often we become Christians borrowing character traits, good and bad, from the world around us because we're taught that God's character is out of step with modern society. And yet, successful people in the world around us sometimes succeed by practicing these out of step Bible principles.
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: ... and they shall hear my voice." John 10:16 (KJV)Mike doesn't quote the Bible or credit success to God in the stories I read (see references below). I don't know whether or not Mike is a Christian. But we can learn from him.
The Anaheim Angels are playing in the world series this year (2002) and Mike Scioscia is the manager of the team. The credibility/listen quote came from Darin Erstad, a player on the team. Scioscia had only one year of baseball management experience, and that in the minor leagues, when he became manager of the Angels in 2000. And now the Angels, American League champions and tied for the world championship are no longer bottom-dwellers in baseball.
Another player Troy Percival says, "He came in and took the pressure off everybody. Scioscia said, 'You don't have to do anything other than play baseball.'"
The story then goes on to say that Scioscia, the manager, removed pressure by displaying a balanced temperament. Erstad says that whether you win five games in a row or lose five in a row, or whether Scioscia had a bad day at home, "He's exactly the same every day." Another player, Tim Salmon, says "When your leader doesn't panic and is in control, it sends a message."
Anaheim lost 14 of its first 20 games. "Does that mean the season's over?" Erstad asked rhetorically. "You still have 100-and-some games left. There are going to be times like that through the course of a season." Win some, lose some. You don't panic because you fail more often than you win.
Christians have no need to panic. God is in control and since we as Christians spend time with Him, we share in this safety. We don't need to panic because of world disasters or wars, because of crime. We can communicate level-headed confidence! We don't have to panic because of past sins or even current personal failings (sins). Our faith can enable us to depend on the grace of Jesus and His promises.
We don't excuse sin in our lives, but as Scioscia says, "We've had some gut-wrenching loses and some exhilerating wins. You try to stay in the middle and let guys understand the importance of that day-to-day grind you need to be successful." Another time he says, "We can't look to the future and we can't dwell on the past. Our guys have been through so many ups and downs that we understand that every day is so important." Scioscia emphasizes championship caliber attitude and confidence.
The key to success as a Christian is this confidence that overcomes what appears to be repeated failure. The Anaheim Angels manager says of his players, "They work their tails off and they're so unselfish." Confidence, consistent hard work, group orientation over self enables each person to know that setbacks are not in themselves limiting. That I can succeed sometimes and hopefully with greater frequency, that others care about me, and that, in the case of Christian believers, that God, like this baseball manager, doesn't give up on me. These things enable Christian lives to thrive and positively influence others.
Note: News links don't seem to live forever on the web so I can't promise that the stories will be active when you read this story. They were dated October 21, 2002.
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