Block 1, Industriousness - Bottom of the Ninth #114

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Bottom of the 9th - Industriousness

Industriousness - Block 1, John Wooden's Pyramid of Success

by Keith Wahl

The path to excellence does not include shortcuts. While we are constantly tempted to cut corners as we prepare, it is impossible to get where we want to go in the game of baseball without hard work.This is also true of our spiritual lives. There is no "easy way" as we seek success in our spiritual lives. Building our spiritual muscles requires an element of focused hard work in the same way that improving on the diamond does.

Maybe the most common shortcut in baseball, and possibly our spiritual lives, is how we talk about what we are doing.

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.† â€“ Proverbs 14:23

Having been in the dugout with a variety of players this summer from Division I athletes to incoming high-school freshmen, I've been a part of quite a few dugout conversations. This may be the most unique elements of the game of baseball - once known as "America's favorite pastime." The amount of down time in the game leads to conversation between participants - players, coaches, umpires, and fans. Often times the words exchanged are humorous and serve to connect. But, often times people begin creating a false narrative about themselves, their experiences, and, in the case of parents, their kid.

Older players and coaches come to peace with the "glory days" of their experiences (cue the Springsteen song now). In fact, storytelling is a valued component by players, coaches, and umpires alike. A healthy narrative of the past told in an engage fashion leads people to feel connected. Like telling a story about catching a fish "this big," baseball stories from years gone by feels acceptable.

However, as the current youth and high school baseball culture seems to be driven to create a narrative for each player resembling a marketing campaign, the Proverb above rings all the more true - "mere talk leads to poverty." There seems to be less and less room for sandlot experiences and hard work, and only room for improving a baseball resume.

Something is being lost in that cycle, and it might be good, old-fashioned hard work. It's a cornerstone in Wooden's Pyramid for good reason. It's a value that is eternal and transferable to the next stage in life. That's the purpose of sport, right? To prepare us for the next stages of life, right? May we take the simple perspective of this prayer written in one of the books about Wooden's pyramid to heart:

"Heavenly Father, help me to view the effort I give in every aspect of my life as a gift to You. Lord, teach me to work for You and not for people. I want to fulfill the plans You have for me - for Your glory. Thank you."

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