My first encounter with Steve Springer occurred when I was a batboy for the 1990 Colorado Springs Sky Sox and he was the second baseman. Did we have the first clue who the other person was at the time? Not even close. I was far more enamored with the Carlos Baergas, Luis Medinas, and Joey Belles of the world (yeah, same guy as Albert Belle...until the night he threw a bat into the dugout after a popout, hit me in the head off the ricochet, and he was sent to alcohol rehab the next day...only time I was mentioned in Sports Illustrated, albeit indirectly). He was way more focused on achieving the Major League dream than a 16-year-old kid retrieving bats and gophering coffee for the coaches.
Fast forward 15 years to the Colorado baseball coaches clinic, and there's Steve Springer peddling his Quality At Bat CD in the lobby and giving his spiel to 100 or so coaches in attendance. We had a chance to talk in the lobby for quite a while and we had the opportunity to talk about Jesus. After my time with "Spring" and after listening to his CD, I knew that his thoughts had transformational power. We implemented the Quality At Bat approach that spring, won our league, and made it to the state championship game. Needless to say, Steve Springer's influence has lived on through our baseball program ever since.
Coach Springer is now working for the Toronto Blue Jays and his impact in the baseball culture is everywhere. I wonder if he'll get to know how much he's impacted people for the kingdom on this side of heaven. One of our former players told me this week that he listens to Springer's Quality At Bat CD before he takes tests in college to bring him peace. Over time, I've boiled the parallels between the Christian walk and Quality At Bats to these three principles:
1. Certain metrics we use to measure ourselves are manipulated by Satan to rob us of our potential joy - I love helping our baseball players recognize that the "batting average is Satan," as Spring puts it. When they stop focusing on chasing the batting average number, they explode offensively. They go to the plate with peace and confidence. This idea is applicable in school as well. When the student stops pursuing the grade, their focus can be on learning. That's where real growth happens. When we, as professionals, stop pursuing a metric by which we are measured and choose to find the peaceful process that leads to the metric, we find joy as well. It's challenging, but the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7) lives there.
2. Confidence comes from our mindset towards failure - A couple of weeks ago I wrote about adversity being our asset. Only when we use failure as an opportunity to learn can we grow in confidence. I love Springer's take in this area. Be positive about every at bat. Have confidence about every at bat. Want the fifth at bat. Want the same feeling when you're 4-4 as when you're 0-4. The only way to do this is to focus on building confidence in every situation to that point in time. A friend sent me this video of Will Smith discussing the importance of failure. We need to consider our mindset and failure as more important than success. It might be a key to humility.
3. Focus on something bigger than yourself - Athletic teams are an opportunity to lose the self into something greater. Jesus illustrates this idea in Matthew 16:25 when He says, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." How true this is within a team! Everything Coach Springer talks about helps a player fit within to the team concept. Help your team win today in that at bat, on defense, wherever the team needs you. When we lose our life, our own selfish desires, into the greater desire of the team, we find life!
If you've never heard Coach Springer's talk, click the image above. The principles he discusses live beyond the baseball field. As I mentioned above, I can't wait for Steve to see the impact he's had on the world one day. He'll experience unimaginable joy. Make sure to follow him on Twitter (@qualityatbats) and Instagram (qualityatbats)!