Step Up To the Plate: Encouragement Leads to Victory

Step Up To the Plate: Encouragement Leads to Victory

As the season wears on, it becomes more and more difficult to stay positive. The initial elation of many players begins to fade. It becomes easier to see your teammates flaws; both in play, and in actions. So how can we stay positive, and be encouraging to our teammates?

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” Proverbs 18:21. As this verse says, there is a lot at stake in what we say. We can speak a good word to someone, or we could be cruel to them. By encouraging others, we can show the love of Christ, and build them up. On the other hand, saying anything derogatory can negatively impact a person.

If we tear down our teammates we harm not only them, but our whole team. Let’s pretend that my teammate, we’ll call him Fred, goes 0 for four. His final at-bat he strikes out with the bases loaded, and we lose by one. He walks slowly by me as he crosses the dugout with a distraught look on his face. I quickly snip at him, and tell him he is an idiot for taking a fastball right down the middle, that he is horrible, and that he does not deserve to be on the team. He peers at me out of his helmet, and slumps even more slowly to his spot on the bench. The next game rolls around, and he strikes out again. I fume that he has to swing the bat, and yell at him to do better. Again he slouches past me, but this time dares not look me in the eye. The rest of the team silently anticipates the next pitch, while he sits neglected in the corner. I step up to the plate the next inning, and strike out looking. Now that my teammates have seen the precedent I set on this matter they begin telling me off. Before the end of the game, we have a mess on our hands. Every time someone makes a bad play, the rest of the team screams at them. This causes the players not only to become angry towards one another, but also to fear making mistakes themselves. Errors abound, and strike-outs run rampant throughout the rest of the season due to the fear inspired in each player by these outbursts. All the while we come to hate each other, causing division and infighting among the team.

However, if we build our team up, we are setting up for success. Let’s pretend that the same situation occurs; Fred strikes out, and we lose the game. However, as he sulks through the dugout, I encourage him instead. I briefly tell him that it is alright, and that he will get it next time. This may or may not change his feeling on the matter, but it lets him know that I will support him even if he fails, and that I have confidence in him. The next game he strikes out, but he does not fear that I will yell at him, and instead of sulking, he is already moving on to the next play. The next inning I strike out looking, and walk sullenly back to the dugout. As I walk to the bench he quickly encourages me, and reassures me that I will do better the next at bat. Later, Bob grounds out to second. Instead of telling him off, the team encourages him. Routine plays are made, and base hits frequent the rest of the season due to the confidence the players have. This confidence is inspired by their teammates, and by the encouragement they receive when they do well, or poorly. Contrary to the other situation, where negativity prevails, support flows from all the players. Thus, instead of being overtaken by fear, the players are spurred on in unity and respect for one other. They are no longer afraid of their teammates, rather, they desire to play their best to honor them.

As Proverbs 17:27 says, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Throughout the time we spend with our teammates we should be loving them in the same way that the Lord has loved us. In this way, we show them what it means to follow Christ. If we want to accomplish this we must practice control over our tongues, and realize the impact they have on others. We will affect our team profoundly with our words, we can either aid or destroy it. Although the latter is compelling, on a significantly more important level, our choice is whether we will glorify Christ through encouraging our teammates, or idolize our own selfish hearts.

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