Mortar 9, Patience - Bottom of the Ninth #137

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Bottom of the 9th - Patience

Patience - Mortar 9, John Wooden's Pyramid of Success by Keith Wahl

"To hold a structure of bricks (or blocks) together, the mason applies mortar around each layer. In the Pyramid of Success, character qualities bond the 15 building blocks, thus symbolizing mortar. These character qualities actually run throughout the Pyramid and help us advance toward the apex."

The saying "Patience is a virtue" can be dated back as far as the fifth century, and other sources put it some time in the 14th century. Regardless of the truth of when it was said, the saying is true. However, in an overly complex and ever-changing world, Patience as a virtue is a lost art in our culture. It seems that success, and fast success, is the newest virtue in American sports.

The Natural, the book by Bernard Malamud, is a beautiful piece of literature. The film starring Robert Redford is a nice piece with a typical Hollywood ending, but the book contains so much more depth and a vastly different ending. One of the characters, Pop Fisher, is the manager of the New York Knights, a floundering ballclub. One of the concepts of the book, and something Pop says a few times in the movie, is a profound idea within the game of baseball. Pop says, "I should have been a farmer." What he doesn't realize is that he's more of a farmer than he realizes.

Think about the analogy here - a baseball manager as a farmer. A farmer tills the soil, does a lot of hard labor by hand, but ultimately has to put his trust in God that rain is going to fall. Much of what the farmer does is outside of his control. He is the pinnacle of Patience. A baseball manager is the same. He works to prepare his team for competition, but has to put his trust in young men to put a round bat on a round ball and find the green of the outfield grass. A baseball manager is on the same pinnacle of Patience as a farmer.

On a personal level, I've waited 41 years for a championship in baseball...and I've come maddeningly close. I remember our team losing in the championship game in my first ever season of tee ball. In high school, we lost in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off home run. In college, we lost on the final day of play coming within a game of moving to the NAIA World Series. As a coach, I've lost on a squeeze bunt in extra innings, and been to the final day of play two other times. I've come so close to either being in a dogpile at the end of the final game, or watching our players explode with that joy.

Recently, I've had two men speak life into the Patience necessary to win in this game. One of the most successful coaches in the state told me he had to wait over 20 years as a coach before he won his first championship. Another friend mentioned how much more peaceful his second fifteen years of coaching was in comparison to his first fifteen because he shifted his focus from the championship to the relationship. Patience is necessary to win in baseball.

Wooden says this:

The maxim "easy come, easy go" carries more truth than most people realize. When we add to our accomplishments the element of hard work over a long period of time, we'll place a far greater value on the outcome. When we are patient, we'll have a greater appreciation of our success.

I hold Patiently firm in two things: 1) that I will win a baseball championship some day, and 2) the Jesus Christ will come again. As good as the first will feel, I know the second will carry far more joy. As we wait for both things to occur, I will continue to farm relationships with my players and point them to Jesus Christ, the one true champion of the world.

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