And you strike out on three pitches!
I’ve read that one of the most difficult things for great baseball players to accept as they move from being a high school or college superstar to playing professionally is the inevitable and frequent disappointments—even failure—that is part of the game.
Hall of Fame players only get hits 30% of the time! That means 7 out of 10 times that they bat, they make an out!
The big sluggers, the home-run kings, strike out more than anyone else, and only hit a home run about 1 out of 15 times at bat.
What do you do as a church/ministry leader when you “strike out?” What do you do when you make a bad financial decision, the wrong hire, a damaging strategic decision? What do you do when you and everyone in the whole stadium know that you just struck out on three pitches?
- Some players blame the umpire, the fans, their wife, the team spirit—everybody but themselves.
- Some players just throw the bat and slam their helmet down in rage. That helps everybody on the team feel better!
- Some players give up on themselves; they quit.
- Some players play cavalier—just pretend like it didn’t make any difference!
If these are not productive ways to respond when you strike out, what might we do:
- Admit that you struck out! Don’t try to pretend that you didn’t.
- Don’t blame other people! Even if the pitcher is GREAT, he’s not striking everyone out, so somebody is hitting him! The umpire is not calling everyone out on strikes.
- Seek to understand the reason you struck out. Did you guess incorrectly? Were you too aggressive, too impatient, too unfocused? Did you irritate the umpire?
- When you think you might know why, you might think about whether this is an area that you can improve upon with training, with practice, with coaching, with self-control—and then do what you need to do!
- If you can’t figure out what you did wrong, then ask other people to tell you—and listen to them.
- Get back up to bat as soon as you can. Fear of failure is really bad! Once that gets into your head and takes over, it is increasingly difficult to succeed again.
In church leadership and ministry, even the best leaders are going to make dramatic errors. I’m not talking about moral choices or integrity issues, I’m just talking about bad decisions. These decisions affect people’s jobs, people’s lives, and sometimes even people’s faith because so much of what people believe is wrapped up in the leaders they follow.
That is why it is so painful, just gut-wrenching when you make big, wrong decisions.
The Bible is full of great men who made terrible decisions:
- Abram passes Sara off as his sister to Pharaoh
- Jacob steals the birthright from Esau
- Joseph can’t keep his dreams to himself
- Moses kills the Egyptian in rage. Later he gets so frustrated with his people that he overstates his own role in satisfying their needs and offends God.
- Samson, Jephthah, Eli—the judges God chose made big mistakes.
- King Saul, even David, and especially Solomon
Haven’t you wondered as I have about the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, that is, how some of them made the list? All of these were leaders—but all of them only got hits 3 out of 10 at-bats!!
After that list of great heroes in Hebrews 11, the writer says that “out of weakness [they]were made strong “ (v.34).
You will strike out! Maybe a lot! But if you can acknowledge your weakness and respond to it in a godly way, He can still make you a Hall of Fame player!