The second member of the Starting 9's outfield has an important corner outfield position - the left fielder. A left fielder is generally overlooked as an important element of a team's offense and defense. In this way, Others Focused, Others First belongs here because we don't consider this as the root of our issues enough. However, when a team possesses this mindset, they can overcome any adversary. Others Focused, Others First is the Starting 9's Left Fielder.
"I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me." - John 17:20-21
What does it look like for an “Others Focused, Others First” mentality to pervade an entire baseball team? Has anyone ever seen this in real life, or is it a myth like the Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster? This isn’t meant to sound pessimistic or insulting, but this idea flies against our very nature as human beings. I’ve seen teams win championships, come close, and fall far short, and no matter what the end result, at least one member of the team (usually more) keeps the focus on himself.
This thing, this mythical creature of an “Others Focused, Others First” baseball team has to be possible. I have to believe that. In the search for this thing, it’s little moments of extraordinary moments of unselfishness that make us stand up and take notice. Because they’re often rare in real life, sometimes we need to look to movies to find them. I’m going to give a “spoiler alert” about Dunkirk before writing this next section. We took our summer team to the movie this week in Atlanta, and one scene stuck with me as one of the finest examples of this “Others Focused, Others First” idea.
Here’s the setup. An older civilian and his two teenage sons answer the call of the British Navy to drive their boat into Dunkirk to rescue the soldiers trapped in the region. That in and of itself is an example of sacrifice. During their journey, they pick up a solider who is floating on shrapnel out at sea. When they inform this soldier that they are headed to Dunkirk, he becomes extremely emotional. The solider has just left that region and does not want to return. As the solider attempts to turn the wheel of the boat, he pushes through the younger son who falls into the boat, hitting his head in the process. The younger son will die because of this squabble and injury.
As the father and older son gain control of the boat, subdue the soldier, and continue on their journey, the solider begins to ask about the younger son. The first time the soldier asks if the younger son is doing okay, the older son says, “No, no he’s not!” The anger the older son exhibits towards the soldier is stinging. Later, as the boat is approaching the Dunkirk region, those on board are thrust into a rescue effort after witnessing a small British destroyer being bombed. As they are pulling solider after soldier onto the boat, the older son tells those heading down into the area with the younger son to be careful. As the soldiers examine the younger son, they tell the older son and father that the younger son is dead.
While the father and son are continuing the rescue effort alongside the other soldiers from the destroyer, the older son runs into the first soldier outside on the deck of the boat. Having gained control of his emotions, the soldier asks if the younger son is going to be okay. In a moment of extraordinary grace, the older son somehow manages to focus on the solder in front of him and put him first. The older son tells the solider that the younger son is going to be okay.
And there we see Jesus in the movie Dunkirk.
The very idea of being “Others Focused, Others First” is against our nature. It takes a superhuman effort to align ourselves with Christ to bring about the Kingdom of God on this earth. It takes the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which is available to all of us through the Son, Jesus Christ. What an incredible gift He gave us on the cross through His death!
So where is it on the baseball field? Is it in the moments of sacrifice bunts and hitting behind runners? Is it in the moments where guys are willing to give up at bats when they know someone else’s skill set might be better for that situation? As I said, I’m not sure. I’m still seeking. I’ve seen moments of incredible “Others Focused, Others First” on baseball fields through teams I’ve coached. I’ve also seen the opposite. As I continue in the game, it is my hope to see a team fully committed to this idea.
I hope I don’t search in vain like those still searching for Bigfoot…